When striking a solicitor from the roll for non-dishonest conduct, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal must give a reasoned decision why a suspension is insufficient.
This was the judgment of Mr. Justice Foskett in the matter of Obi v SRA heard in the Administrative Court on 2 November 2012.
Mr. Justice Foskett said ‘ if the decision to strike off is made, ordinarily the Tribunal should indicate that they have considered whether suspension is a sufficient sanction, but have decided that it is not for whatever reasons may, in the circumstances, be thought appropriate. This is the way in which the issue of the choice between suspension and erasure (the term used in the medical context) is considered in the context of medical disciplinary matters. There can be no distinction in principle between that situation and that of an SDT considering effectively the same issue …  I would have expected the first SDT to explain why suspension was not considered an adequate sanction, but if the SDT had said that the circumstances were so serious that only striking off was to be regarded as appropriate, that would have been a decision that, as “an informed and expert body”, I would have concluded was justified.’
Mr. Justice Foskett also found that the when the SDT is considering sanction and is relying upon factors that the Respondent’s Defence may be unaware of, the SDT ought to disclose them and allow the Defence to address them.