Solicitor Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT)

Allegations of professional misconduct or wrongdoing can seriously impact or even end a solicitor’s career, so when facing such allegations, it is critical to secure expert advice and representation.

Allegations of professional misconduct or wrongdoing can seriously impact or even end a solicitor’s career, so when facing such allegations, it is critical to secure expert advice and representation.

The way a solicitor responds to a disciplinary investigation can significantly affect the final outcome. A sensible approach grounded in a thorough understanding of how these matters work can make the difference between being found guilty of wrongdoing or not, as well as giving the best chance of avoiding serious sanctions where wrongdoing has occurred.

Our team of SDT solicitors, based in London, represent solicitors from a wide range of firms and businesses, including very high-profile clients facing the most serious allegations. We can assist with every stage of solicitors’ disciplinary proceedings, including:

  • Legal Profession Disciplinary Proceedings
  • Understanding the powers of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
  • Solicitor Regulation Authority Prosecutions
  • Solicitor Disciplinary Tribunal Proceedings
  • Responding to SDT decisions
  • SDT Appeals & Applications for Restoration
  • Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Representation

All Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal cases are dealt with at partner level in recognition of the complexity and sensitivity of these matters. We will work intelligently and proactively to limit the professional consequences of an investigation and any potential sanctions, while always taking account of reputational considerations.

We will engage with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) at an early stage to bring an investigation to an early conclusion in our clients’ favour where possible.

However, our dedicated litigation experts have an excellent track record of success representing clients in Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearings, with powerful advocacy skills ready to be deployed on our clients’ behalf.

Operating from offices in central London, we are ideally located to assist solicitors facing Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings in London and nationwide.

Speak to our SDT solicitors in London

For expert assistance with solicitors’ disciplinary proceedings, contact Saunders Law today for a free, no obligation initial discussion of how we may be able to help.

Call us on 02076324300 or make an enquiry online.

Why Saunders Law is the smart choice for Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal advice & representation

Exceptional specialist expertise in solicitors’ disciplinary proceedings

Partners James Saunders and Matthew Purcell are regarded as experts in this field and are members of the Solicitors Assistance Scheme. For instance, they secured the exoneration of the former Director of Legal Affairs at News International before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in respect of alleged wrongdoing in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Independently recognised expertise

Our team has been independently recognised for our legal expertise with strong rankings in highly respected client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

Exceptional personal service & client satisfaction

We pride ourselves on the high level of personal service. Our clients will always receive a call back the same day following an enquiry regarding Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal cases, and can always speak to one of our partners when required. As a result, we consistently achieve excellent feedback from clients.

Transparent and flexible pricing

We provide clear and open advice regarding the costs involved in facing disciplinary proceedings for solicitors. Various funding options are available to suit different circumstances and we have excellent relationships with litigation funding providers.

How our team can assist with solicitors’ disciplinary proceeds matters

Legal Profession Disciplinary Proceedings

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) is an independent statutory tribunal, made up of solicitors and lay person members, tasked with protecting the public and maintaining the good reputation of the legal profession.

If the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decides (following an application by the Solicitors Regulation Authority) that there’s a case to answer, it hears and decides cases concerning allegations of professional misconduct against solicitors, registered foreign lawyers and unadmitted employees of solicitors.

Our SRA and SDT defence solicitors can advise you on the process if you are referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and help you to prepare your case effectively.

Understanding the powers of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

The SDT has a range of powers at its disposal to impose sanctions if it makes a finding of misconduct (much wider than those granted to the SRA), including large fines, suspension, the imposition of practising restrictions and conditions (on both qualified and non-qualified individuals) or the striking off of a solicitor from the roll. It also has the power to award costs.

It can also restore a struck-off solicitor to the roll, bring an indefinite period of suspension to an end, vary and lift restrictions, as well as review and revoke an order made in respect of an unadmitted person (also known as a section 43 order).

If you are facing Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings, our team can advise you on the potential actions that could be taken depending on the outcome achieved.

Solicitor Regulation Authority Prosecutions

Of the SDT’s case load, almost all prosecutions are brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) (applications can also be made, far less frequently, by members of the public).

The SRA will only refer a case to the SDT if they determine that there is sufficient evidence (a realistic prospect that the regulated person will be found guilty of misconduct, i.e. the SDT is likely to make a finding of misconduct) and prosecution is in the public interest (if the allegations are serious and a finding of misconduct is likely to result in a sanction that the SRA is not empowered to make).

The SRA’s code for referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal makes clear some public interest factors against prosecution, including:

  • Likelihood of only a nominal penalty;
  • Misconduct as a result of a genuine mistake or misunderstanding;
  • The regulated person is or was suffering significant mental or physical ill-health at the time of the misconduct; and,
  • Co-operation with the SRA and prompt redress.

Our SRA defence solicitors can advise on responding to an SRA prosecution, providing assistance with preparing your case and representation for every stage of proceedings.

Solicitor Disciplinary Tribunal Proceedings

Proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal are adversarial and decided on the criminal standard of proof – beyond reasonable doubt. Solicitors disciplinary tribunal cases are heard in the Tribunal’s court rooms on the corner of Ludgate Circus in central.

Most hearings are held in public before two solicitor members and one lay member, although it is possible to apply to have the hearing (all or part of it) held in private on the grounds of exceptional hardship or prejudice. If such an application is successful, the judgment may also be anonymised, depending on the particular circumstances.

Our SDT solicitors can represent you during Tribunal proceedings, making sure you have the best possible defence and helping to protect your career in the wake of an SDT decision.

SDT Appeals & Applications for Restoration

Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal appeals are made to the Administrative Court at the Royal Courts of Justice and are subject to strict time limits: an appeal must be lodged within 21 days from when the statement of reasons for a decision is given (usually two to seven weeks after a hearing).

Applications to be restored to the roll or to lift an indefinite suspension are distinct from appeals. They involve requesting that the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal consider whether the applicant is now a fit and proper person.

Amongst other things, the application must not be premature (only in exceptional circumstances can an applicant expect to have their name restored to the roll within six years of being struck off); and, there must be clear evidence of rehabilitation.

If you are unhappy with an SDT decision, our team can review your case and advise on whether there are grounds for an appeal. We can then guide you through the appeals process, helping to prepare your application and providing expert representation.

Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Representation

Professional discipline law and precedent changes quickly. At Saunders Law, we stay ahead of these developments and are experts in SDT practice and procedure, case law and all legal and regulatory issues relevant to professional discipline in the legal sector.

We carry out highly thorough investigations to formulate defence strategies based on sound, convincing evidence and arguments. If a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal case proceeds to a hearing, we use highly honed advocacy skills when acting on behalf of our clients, aimed at protecting their status and livelihood.

What does the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal do?

The main function of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is to hear and rule over cases involving allegations of solicitors committing professional misconduct or breaching professional practice rules and regulations.

Who sits on the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal?

The people sitting on the Tribunal, and who ultimately make SDT decisions, consist of solicitors and Lay Members. Solicitor Members must be practising solicitors of no less than ten years’ standing.

Lay Members who make SDT decisions are individuals who are drawn from a range of personal and professional backgrounds. They are not solicitors or barristers.

What is the burden of proof at a disciplinary hearing?

The Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules 2019 (SDPR 2019) updated the guidelines regarding the burden of proof for Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal cases. For Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decisions after 25 November 2019, the standard of proof is the ‘balance of probabilities’. For any Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal cases that were certified prior to that date, the standard of proof is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

Arrange an initial, no obligation consultation with our SDT solicitors in London

When dealing with solicitors’ disciplinary proceedings, our team has the experience, skills and proactive approach required to secure the best available SDT decision outcome.

For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion of how our SDT solicitors may be able to help, please contact us.

Call us on 020 7632 4300 or make an enquiry online.