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The Answer and evidence gathering

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s (SDT) directions allow you to respond to the ‘Rule 12’ statement. This is your chance to file a defence to the charges, setting out why you contest some or all of the allegations and the evidence you rely on.

It's also an opportunity to introduce any documentary evidence not submitted to the SDT by the SRA with the Rule 12 statement.

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Planning your defence and response

The form of a response is somewhat flexible – it can be a formal pleading (referred to as the “Answer”) or a witness statement.

Our expert team of layers will work with you to ensure that your defence for your solicitors disciplinary case is as strong and effective as it can be.

We can advise you on circumstances where an admission may be appropriate, and about demonstrating that you've reflected on what has happened and learned from it.

These can be key factors in the SDT’s decision making, so it's always worth giving them careful consideration when responding to the Rule 12 statement.

Evidence gathering

Once your defence has been served, we’ll then advise you on the process of developing witness evidence and obtaining character testimonials, if appropriate.

While character testimonials are often used in mitigation, they can also be powerful evidence when resisting serious substantive allegations like a lack of integrity and dishonesty.

We’ll consider with you whether there’s any need for further applications to the SDT, including for disclosure from the SRA, third parties or the introduction of expert evidence in order, to build the strongest possible defence for you.

Next steps

Once we’ve been through the process of fully preparing your defence and evidence in support matters will progress to a final hearing, which could result in a variety of outcomes and decisions.

Learn more about SDT hearings, possible outcomes and whether you can appeal any decisions.