Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings

SDT Representation

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. Where a case demands it, or a client prefers we work with the top KC's in the field, as well as more junior members where cost efficiencies are required.

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

'Murdochs Solicitors has a niche team specialising in defence of solicitors' professional discipline proceedings. The firm has particular expertise in SDT matters, SRA forensic investigations and voluntary practice closures. It is experienced in providing advice on interventions and appeals."This firm has a unique ability to handle complex matters quickly and well.""The team shows in-depth knowledge of various SRA regulations and although matters are complex the advice given is clear, concise and practical.""The team is aware of regulatory trends impacting the industry and can respond accordingly." Chambers UK 2024

Predominantly focused on defending solicitors (and other legal professionals) facing regulatory investigations and disciplinary proceedings, Murdochs Solicitors' 'specialist knowledge and extensive experience are exceptional'. The practice of senior partner Andrew Blatt, whose 'advice is very sound and to the point', covers SRA investigations, SDT proceedings, and complex partnership disputes featuring misconduct issues; and senior consultant Robert Forman is 'a leader in his field of Solicitors Professional Standards and Regulations'. At director level, Nicholas Trevette also has significant experience in handling SRA investigations.' Legal 500 UK 2024

Robert Forman in our team is a co-author of The Solicitor's Handbook editions 2024, 2022 & 2019. 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.