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Criminal conduct, admission and restoration to the Roll

Get in touch with our expert SRA solicitors today to discuss your situation with us and see how we can help.

In this section

Before you can be admitted to the Roll, as well as the necessary qualifications and qualifying experience, the SRA must be satisfied as to your character and suitability to become a solicitor.

In making its assessment, the SRA takes a wide view of what conduct it considers relevant. It will, however, particularly consider any previous criminal conduct (including convictions, cautions and other police decisions), examination/assessment offences, financial conduct issues, previous regulatory/professional disciplinary findings and other conduct which indicates you may have behaved without integrity or independence.

Failure to disclose relevant information will be taken into account by the SRA in its determination of your application and, in certain circumstances, can form the basis of SRA enforcement action against you (even if you are not ultimately admitted as a solicitor).

If you need advice on whether you need to make a disclosure to the SRA or what evidence you should submit to support your application, we can help. We are also able to advise on applications for admission to the Roll by equivalent means and applications for early assessment of character and suitability.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (“SDT”) has the power to restore the name of a solicitor who has been struck off to the Roll. It is worth noting, however, that any such application made within 6 years of strike off is likely to be seen as premature.

You must demonstrate in your application that restoration to the Roll will not harm public confidence in the profession, especially given the guidance in Bolton v Law Society [1993] EWCA Civ 32 that:

“[t]o maintain this reputation and sustain public confidence in the integrity of the profession it is often necessary that those guilty of serious lapses are not only expelled but denied readmission.”

Other factors to demonstrate include such matters as evidence of rehabilitation, future employment intentions and the extent to which any losses have been repaid. It is likely that, if your application is refused, you will still be ordered to pay some costs. As the SDT states in its guidance note, if an allegation of dishonesty was found proven against a solicitor, this can constitute an “almost insurmountable obstacle” to restoration.

Criminal cautions, warnings and convictions can engage several of the SRA’s Principles, most obviously Principle 1 (the requirement to act in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice), Principle 3 (behaving in a way that maintains public trust and confidence) and Principle 5 (acting with integrity).

However, not every conviction or caution will result in a serious sanction, nor (in the context of an assessment of character and suitability) in an application to the Roll being denied.

You should keep in mind your reporting obligations and remember that failing to report or disclose such a matter to the SRA - or delaying reporting it - will likely be considered an aggravating factor. Importantly, you should note that the SRA and SDT will generally not “look behind” a criminal conviction and will consider it proof of guilt. Accepting a caution is also considered an admission of guilt. Some offences, such as those involving dishonesty, will attract more serious sanctions, while others might only result in a warning or rebuke.