The Tribunal has power to restore to the Roll a former solicitor whose name has been struck off the Roll – Rule 17 of Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules 2019.
In conjunction with reading the summary below, please refer to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Guidance Note on Other Powers of the Tribunal (6th Edition), which applies to all cases heard from 25 November 2019.
An application in such a case must be supported by a statement setting out details of the original Order of the Tribunal, dealing fully with the history of the applicant’s employment since the Order was made and indicating future intentions as to employment within the profession in the event that the application is successful.
An application for restoration is not to be regarded as an appeal against the decision to strike off.
The Tribunal’s function when considering an application for restoration is to determine whether the Applicant has established that they are now a fit and proper person to have their name restored to the Roll.
Certain factors are, however, taken into account by the Tribunal in deciding whether to grant an application for restoration.
These may be summarised as follows:
- The application should not be premature having regard to the time which has elapsed since the original Order striking the solicitor’s name off the Roll was made. An Applicant cannot expect to have their name restored to the Roll within six years of the original Order striking off save in the most exceptional circumstances;
- Clear evidence of the Applicant’s rehabilitation must be adduced, together with evidence that they have been employed, preferably in the solicitors’ profession, in the intervening period or, at least, has held employment in a position of trust again preferably in a legal environment;
- The Tribunal places particular emphasis on the Applicant’s future intentions and whether another solicitor would be willing to employ them in connection with their practice in the event that the Applicant’s name is restored to the Roll;
- Indebtedness to the Compensation Fund, although not a bar to restoration, is a factor always taken into account by the Tribunal when considering applications of this nature. The Applicant must be in a position to demonstrate that they have made a sustained effort to meet any liability to the Fund and, where appropriate, that the effort will continue in the event of restoration;
- A criminal conviction recorded against an Applicant involving dishonesty, or a finding of dishonesty by the Tribunal, can constitute an all but insurmountable obstacle to a successful application for restoration.
In 1993, the Master of the Rolls made it clear that the solicitor seeking restoration must not only prove his fitness to be a solicitor but must also demonstrate that his restoration to the Roll would not adversely affect the good name and reputation of the solicitors’ profession nor would it be contrary to the interests of the public.
The Law Society, via the SRA, is the Respondent to such an application.
The Tribunal should not and will not be swayed by the argument that a decision not to restore is hard on the individual concerned.