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Hearings, outcomes and appeals

There are a variety of decisions a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal can take at a hearing.

Here, we discuss what to expect at your hearing, the possible findings the SDT could make, and whether you can appeal these decisions.

All hearings take place at SDT in Central London with a panel of three SDT members – two solicitors and one non-solicitor member.

The panel will hear arguments and evidence from both sides.

At Leigh Day, we work with some of the very best regulatory and disciplinary barristers to ensure the advocacy and presentation of evidence on your behalf is as effective as you’d expect in a hearing of such importance to you and your career.

Although, until recently, the SDT made findings of fact based on the criminal test of “beyond a reasonable doubt”, it now applies the civil standard of the “balance of probabilities”.

Once the hearing of submissions and evidence is complete, the Chair of the panel will announce:

  • Its findings on each allegation
  • Any sanction, if applicable
  • An order as to costs
  • The SDT’s sanctioning powers are far greater than the SRA’s own internal powers and include:
    • Unlimited fines
    • Placing conditions on a solicitor’s practicing certificate
    • Suspension
    • Strike off

The panel’s detailed findings will be set out in writing and provided to you and your legal team after the hearing.

If you receive an adverse decision from the SDT, we’ll consider carefully with you whether you should appeal any of its findings or the severity of the sanction.

Either side has a statutory right of appeal to the High Court against a decision of the SDT, whether on the substance of the decision or the order as to costs. There is no requirement for permission to appeal.

However, the threshold for overturning an appeal in the context of disciplinary proceedings is quite high, as set out in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and in case law, and the High Court will usually be wary of interfering with the conclusions of an expert professional tribunal.

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