Social Worker Solicitors

Richard Nelson LLP’s Social Worker Solicitors have years of experience of representing social workers, both in the old regime before the HCPC and under the current regulator, Social Work England.


Specialists in Social Work England fitness to practise cases

Fitness to practise issues for social workers arise out of allegations of misconduct, lack of competence, criminal conviction or caution, serious ill health or not having the necessary knowledge of English. Social workers face a variety of concerns such as inadequate record keeping, breaching professional boundaries, or breaching confidentiality.

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I chose Richard Nelson as my case had gone to a Social Work England hearing. I was totally impressed and reassured by the clear legal knowledge that Victoria Rees had and with her no-nonsense approach. She did not waste time at all and feel she saved me money as a... result. The barrister they employed was … so very human, clear patient and supported me in ways that I needed to keep standing. I was so close to walking away and giving up on my career because of the ongoing stress of the waiting.

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Social Work England investigations

On receipt of a complaint, Social Work England will triage complaints and identify those that raise concerns about a social worker’s fitness to practise which are sufficiently serious enough to merit an investigation.

Social Work England will initially write to a social worker to notify them about the concerns that they are investigating, inviting them to respond to the concerns and to provide them with details of the social worker’s employer.

It typically takes 6-12 months for the investigation stage to be completed. We always advise a social worker to take legal advice on receipt of a letter from Social Work England stating that they are under an investigation. Taking early advice will enable us to protect your interests from the outset and ensure that you have the right support in place.

Advice for responding to Social Work England

Once Social Work England has completed their investigation, they will provide the social worker with their investigation report and will allow the social worker time to submit a written response to the allegations. If a social worker has not yet received legal advice but is in receipt of a letter of this nature from Social Work England, we would definitely encourage them to contact us as soon as possible. The wording of a written response will almost certainly impact the outcome of the investigation. It is essential to get objective and experienced legal help when preparing a written response for Social Work England, to give the social worker the best possible chance of persuading Social Work England that the case does not need to proceed any further.

Social Work England will then review the written response and allocate the case, to case examiners. The case examiners will then decide if there is a realistic prospect that the concerns could be proven, and if so, if the social worker’s fitness to practise could be impaired and therefore whether it is in the public interest to hold a hearing. Case examiners can decide to:

  • close the case;
  • refer the social worker to a hearing;
  • or offer the social worker an accepted disposal outcome, which resolves the case without the need for a hearing.

In our experience, Social Work England are usually willing to consider using the accepted disposal process, which avoids the need for a hearing. Accepted disposal outcomes include: no further action, advice, a written warning, conditions of practice or a suspension for a specified time.

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Legal representation for a hearing

If the allegation is not accepted by the social worker, or the allegation is at the serious end of the spectrum, then a hearing will take place. At a hearing, the same sanctions are available to the Panel that the case examiners have; with the additional sanction available to them of removing a social worker from the register. Removal is a sanction reserved for the most serious of cases.

At all stages of the fitness to practise process, it is important for social workers to take independent objective legal advice about the allegations. Our experience of representing social workers in fitness to practise matters, means that we can guide you through the process, assisting you to obtain the best possible outcome. With the right preparation and representation, it is possible in many cases to persuade a fitness to practise panel that you should be allowed to remain on the register, and to limit any sanctions imposed on your practice.

Specialist solicitors

Our multidisciplinary team is made up of specialists in a wide range of services, which means you'll always be represented by an expert in your area.

No-strings initial call

Get in touch to arrange a no-obligation, fully confidential call to discuss your case and work out if you want to continue.

Nationwide support

Speak to solicitors in one of our offices throughout England and Wales, or arrange calls and remote meetings.


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