The SDT hears serious cases of professional misconduct. The likely result in such cases, if allegations are proven, would be the imposition of a sanction such as strike off or suspension which prohibits an individual from practising.
The SDT deal with cases against firms where the likely financial penalty exceeds £25,000 (except in cases relating to licensed bodies, which are reserved to the SRA and where their powers already provide for maximum penalties of up to £250million).
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has the power to strike a solicitor’s name from the Roll, suspend a solicitor from practice, impose restrictions on practise, fine or reprimand a solicitor or make any other order, or combination of Orders within its powers.
Typical SDT cases include:
- Cases that are of high public interest or that involve a novel point of law.
- Cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct, racism, bullying, harassment or other counter-inclusive misconduct and/or conduct that targets an individual because of a protected characteristic.
- A failure by a law firm to take appropriate steps to protect an employee from counter-inclusive misconduct, or to ensure a safe working environment (for example, where there is evidence of a pervasive toxic culture).
- A serious failure by a law firm to comply with the regulatory framework resulting in harm to individuals (either clients or employees).
- Cases involving significant and/or manifest incompetence or recklessness, including where there has been serious misconduct by others.
- Cases involving more than one respondent, where some or all the respondents contest the allegations.
- Cases involving misappropriation of client money, and/or other serious misuse of client money which may or may not involve non-compliance with legislative requirements such as anti-money laundering requirements.
Complexity of Cases
There will be a variety of issues for these types of cases. Allegations are likely to include dishonesty or serious lack of integrity, as well as convictions, as discussed in the SRA’s enforcement strategy. These also include cases which otherwise involve a failure to meet the obligations under the SRA principles to uphold public trust and confidence or the rule of law.
The motivation of the regulated individual or law firm will be relevant and whether there is serious recklessness or willful disregard of regulatory requirements. The impact of the misconduct will also be an important consideration.