Issue, certification and directions
If allegations against you or your firm are referred by the SRA to a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), there are a number of actions that will take place before the tribunal - from the issuing of proceedings to directions to a final hearing.
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The SRA starts proceedings by making an application to the SDT. The application is commonly referred to as the “Rule 12 statement”, after the relevant rule in the Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules 2019.
In effect, it’s the SRA’s indictment and it should set out:
- All the allegations against you or your firm
- The facts relied on in bringing the charges
- Any matters relevant to the charges against you
- Any relevant documentary evidence in support
On receipt of the Rule 12 statement, a solicitor member of the SDT will consider its contents and certify whether there is a case to answer.
This is a low threshold, as it is only necessary for the Rule 12 statement to disclose a prima facie case in order to be certified.
Once the SDT has certified there is a case to answer, a copy of the Rule 12 statement and any supporting documents will be served on you or – where we’re instructed on your behalf – on us, together with directions to a final hearing.
The directions to a final hearing are usually in a standard form and will either include a date for a substantive hearing or, where the SRA estimates the hearing will last over a day, a case management hearing.
Depending on the scope of the allegations made, the volume of documentary evidence in play and involvement of additional witnesses, the standard directions may not be appropriate to your case.
Where this is the case, we can correspond with the SRA and the SDT to negotiate about the timetable to a final hearing to ensure you have enough time to put forward the best defence possible.
Following the above actions, you’ll need to start preparing your defence.