What happens if the adjudicator refers me to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal?
The SRA will serve on the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) an originating application. This is supported by a statement under Rule 5 of the Disciplinary Proceedings Rules, detailing the allegations and the regulations breached, enclosing the documentation the SRA will seek to rely on.
A solicitor member of the SDT will review the file and certify whether there is a case to answer. If so, the papers will be served on the solicitor, together with directions to be complied with.
The solicitor will then need to serve an answer to the Rule 5 statement, setting out whether allegations are admitted or contested and the basis of any denials. If you receive a Rule 5 statement detailing allegations which are being brought before the SDT, you should seek advice immediately.
What about a Regulatory Settlement Agreement?
Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to negotiate with the SRA a Regulatory Settlement Agreement (“RSA”), as an alternative to a hearing. Our SRA Solicitors can advise you regarding the possibility of achieving this given your particular circumstances
The time for negotiations is very limited and it is therefore essential that you contact us without delay.
What about an agreed outcome?
Once a Rule 5 Statement has been submitted to the SDT and they have certified that there is a case to answer, the SRA are no longer able to consider an RSA. However, they are able to consider an Agreed Outcome.
An Agreed Outcome can be entered into with the SRA where misconduct is admitted and the SRA agree a sanction for imposition at the SDT. An Agreed Outcome must be formally approved by the SDT after considering the details of the alleged misconduct. It is open to the panel to refuse to accept the Agreed Outcome.
Our SRA Solicitors have experience of negotiating Agreed Outcomes with the SRA and in making appropriate representations to the SDT.
What happens in a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing?
The SRA will usually rely on documentary evidence, although they may call give live evidence. You are able to present your defence and where any allegations are disputed, you should ordinarily give oral evidence, as the High Court has indicated that a failure to do so may lead to the Panel drawing an adverse inference. Our solicitors have significant experience of defending Solicitors before the SDT.
If the factual allegations are found proven, the Panel can impose an unlimited fine, suspend the solicitor or strike the solicitor’s name off the Roll.
Where allegations are found proven, or have been admitted, the solicitor will have an opportunity to mitigate with a view to minimising any sanction imposed by the Panel. We have significant experience of mitigating penalties before the SDT.
What is the costs position following Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) Proceedings?
The SRA will always make an application for their costs to be paid by the solicitor. Surprisingly to most solicitors, even when the allegations have not been found proven, the Tribunal will rarely award costs to the defence and in these circumstances may award costs to the SRA.
Can I appeal a decision of the SDT?
A decision of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal can be appealed to the High Court. The appeal needs to be lodged within 21 days of the receipt of the Tribunal’s written judgment. As time is of the essence, you should contact one of our team immediately if you are considering an appeal, so we can advise you and assist you in preparing the relevant representations to the High Court.
Get in touch
If you would like to speak to one of our SRA regulatory solicitors in strict confidence regarding any aspect of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, then please:
- Request a free call back using the form on this page
- Phone us during office hours on 0845 216 2000
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What we do...
Our Experienced SRA Solicitors can help you with any referral of conduct to the SDT. Our services include:
Representation throughout the process and before the Tribunal;
Advising on the merits of your case;
Contacting the SRA to see if the outcome can be agreed;
Reviewing and advising on Rule 5 Statement;
Drafting Answers to the Rule 5 Statement;
Drafting Witness Statements on behalf of the Respondents and any other witnesses they may wish to call;
Instructing experts in relevant cases;
Representation at Case Management Hearings and Substantive Hearings before the SDT;
Drafting mitigation statements where alleged misconduct is accepted;
Negotiation of costs with the SRA.