Solicitors Regulation Authority investigations
Receiving a notification of an investigation by the SRA can have serious implications, both professionally and financially. Investigations can be long-running and can involve interviews with SRA staff, requests for the production of files and other documents and requests for explanations of conduct. The SRA has wide-ranging powers both during the course of an investigation and at its conclusion. These include the power to issue warnings and rebukes, impose fines and impose conditions on practising certificates. We can guide you through this process, assist you in preparing responses to the SRA and advise on suitable outcomes. If you have received an explanation of conduct letter from the SRA you should seek specialist advice as effective early engagement with the SRA can often have a significant bearing on the outcome of the investigation.
Our recent work in this area has included investigations into the following allegations:
- Misconduct during the course of litigation
- Engaging in reserved activities whilst not authorised to do so
- Breaches of Money Laundering Regulations
- Issues surrounding the Registered European Lawyer (REL) framework
In addition to advising on investigations by the SRA, we also have experience of advising solicitors in relation to their reporting obligations.
Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearings
In the most serious of cases following an investigation you may be notified that you have been referred to a hearing before the SDT. This is a daunting prospect given the tribunal’s powers. Clearly, where allegations are found proven the worst case scenario is that the tribunal will make a striking-off order. However it is important to note that the tribunal’s other powers, such as imposing periods of suspension or restrictions can also have a devastating effect on a solicitor’s practice. Furthermore, the tribunal’s powers to impose fines and make orders for costs can have serious financial implications for solicitors.
We have experience of representing solicitors at hearings before the SDT and, where appropriate, avoiding hearings by agreeing outcomes with the SRA. Our experience includes successfully defending allegations of dishonesty; and successfully avoiding striking off where dishonesty is admitted. Our recent work in this area has involved SDT cases dealing with the following issues:
- Serious breaches of SRA accounts rules
- Serious practice management issues
- Misuse of client account
- Creation of misleading documents
- Misleading the SRA during the course of an investigation.
If you require assistance in relation to an SRA investigation or an SDT hearing, please contact 0203 816 9274 to speak with a member of our team.