Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings


Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

What to do if you’ve been referred to the SDT

If the SRA has referred you or your firm to the SDT, you can usually expect to wait around six months before receiving formal papers that mark the beginning of SDT proceedings. If we’ve not already been acting for you, we'll ask you to send us the papers to review (or ask that you authorise the SDT to permit us access to its online case management software Caselines), as early consideration will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome.

As SDT specialists, we'll guide you on defences, liability, culpability, the likely outcome, the prospects of an Agreed Outcome and any evidential issues that require early action. Early consideration of the SRA's application is important for a number of reasons, not least, to gather evidence, address issues of disclosure in the hands of a third party, and where the case demands it, obtain expert medical evidence, for example, of mental health issues.

When proceedings commence the SRA's allegations, set out in what is known as a ‘Rule 12 statement’, as well as standard directions issued by the SDT. You will also be invited to register with the SDT's software platform Caselines. The standard directions issued by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal imposes a tight deadline on you to file an ‘Answer’, effectively your Defence and any admissions you wish to make. The content of your Answer can be crucial to the outcome of the proceedings. Other directions will be given concerning disclosure, witness evidence, listing of a Case Managment Hearing and the Substantive Hearing as well as various other administrative requirements.

From the outset we’ll guide you through the SDT proceedings in your best interest, and hopefully the early resolution of the SRA's application, if not by its withdrawal, by an Agreed Outcome.

The Hearing

If the application proceeds to a substantive hearing, it will be heard before a panel of three; two solicitor members of the SDT and a further lay member. The hearing proceeds in a similar fashion to civil court hearings, although the style is very different. Where allegations are contested or evidence is disputed it is likely that you will give oral evidence and be cross-examined.

Why choose Murdochs Solicitors as your SDT Defence solicitor?

Our specialist three-strong team has many years of experience representing solicitors and firms in SDT proceedings. We conduct most of our advocacy in-house, ensuring that your case is handled by someone who is an experienced specialist, understands the nuances of your case and cares about the outcome. There are likely to be cost savings too.

We believe that we have an excellent record in defending solicitors. We have the experience to understand when to admit and mitigate, and when to defend. Litigation at the SDT requires a very different style from court litigation; get your response wrong, and you won’t be able to demonstrate adequate insight, which is likely to increase your sanction.

You’ll see our name on a number of SDT judgments published online. We’re consistently ranked in Chambers & Legal 500, and have received a number of awards. If you’re still not sure, take a look at our testimonials page, or ask us to provide a reference.

National Recognition & Testimonials

  • Niche team specialising in defence of solicitors' professional discipline proceedings. Particular expertise in SDT matters..."They are true specialists in professional discipline and they do it with compassion and excellence," one client reveals, adding: "Their key point of difference is their ability to build strong relationships with their clients and the regulators." Chambers UK 2022
  • Robert Forman possesses a strong reputation within the legal services regulatory sector, due to his excellent track record defending legal professionals in SDT proceedings..."He's very personable, quick to respond, has great legal knowledge and provides very practical advice.""Robert is very much a solicitor's solicitor. He is pragmatic and adds value by having been close to the regulatory process for a number of years.""He's extremely sharp on the details of cases that can be very paper-heavy." Chambers UK 2022
  • 'The 'small, highly effective team' at Murdochs Solicitors has longstanding experience in focusing almost exclusively on defending solicitors and other legal professionals facing regulatory investigations and disciplinary proceedings. Practice head and senior partner Andrew Blatt, who 'focuses on delivering a great result', specialises in SRA investigations, SDT proceedings, and complex partnership disputes involving misconduct; 'extremely knowledgeable' senior consultant Robert Forman, who is 'very much a solicitor's solicitor', is an expert in SRA and SDT proceedings; and director Nicholas Trevette is 'incredibly reassuring'.' Legal 500 UK 2022

Robert Forman in our team is a co-author of The Solicitor's Handbook editions 2019 and 2022. The Handbook provides expert and definitive commentary on law and practice in the Tribunal.

If you want us on your team, e-mail or speak to Andrew Blatt on 07973 752498, Robert Forman on 07976 562236 or Nick Trevette on 07976 795014.