Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Investigations and Representation before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT)

Kingsley Napley’s regulatory team is top ranked in the legal directories for the provision of advice in this field.  Led by Iain Miller, one of the country’s leading experts, our outstanding reputation in this area has been built on our having acted in some of the most serious, complex and high profile solicitors’ disciplinary cases over the last 20 years.

Solicitors facing investigation by the SRA or defending themselves before an SDT panel understand how important the obtaining of insightful and timely legal advice can be. Every approach by the SRA has the potential to damage the reputation and prospects of those involved; all communication with the SRA during an investigation should be the subject of careful thought and expert legal advice. 

Our team of experienced regulatory lawyers provides advice to solicitors under investigation by the SRA for alleged shortcomings in their professional, as well as their personal, lives.  Having previously worked on the other side of such investigations; we know what is likely to work and what won’t. 

Many of our solicitor clients require the assistance of specialist legal advisers in the employment and criminal teams; we provide that legal advice seamlessly, ensuring a coherent, consistent and efficient service. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What happens in an SRA investigation?

The SRA has wide ranging powers that it uses to investigate solicitors; it may:

  • Instruct a Forensic Investigator to conduct an investigation, who will then prepare a report 
  • Require you to attend a formal recorded interview 
  • Send you a Notice issued under rule 2.3 of the SRA Regulatory and Disciplinary Procedure Rules.  This is likely to set out any allegation(s) you face, the facts in support, the reasons for any recommendation the SRA makes for proposed next steps and the evidence and documentation that the SRA considers to be relevant to the allegation(s). In this Notice, the SRA will invite you to make any written representations in relation to the Notice and will give you a minimum of 14 days to respond.  The SRA will take account of your written representations when determining how to proceed with the investigation

The case will ultimately be referred to an Adjudicator or Adjudication Panel, who will decide whether to close the case, issue a penalty or refer the case to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for determination at a hearing.

How should I respond to the SRA?

The early stages of an SRA investigation is the most crucial period when the SRA will form a view as to what has gone wrong and who is responsible.   A pro-active and well-judged response by a solicitor or firm can enable the SRA to understand that the matter may be less serious than it thought. The SRA needs to have your side of the story explained in a way that addresses its concerns. If things have gone wrong it can often help to explain what you are doing to put it right and make sure it will never happen again.  It is at this stage that experienced advice can make all the difference. We have seen a number of cases over the years where engagement by solicitors at this stage avoids a referral to the SDT.

What is a Regulatory Settlement Agreement (RSA)?

Certain allegations are suitable for conclusion by way of a Regulatory Settlement Agreement (RSA), in lieu of a hearing before the SDT.  RSAs are normally only available before the SRA decides to refer the case to the SDT.   The solicitor will usually need to accept that there has been a breach of the rules and for that reason, discussions about RSAs are held on a without prejudice basis.

Is an Agreed Outcome available to me?

After the SRA has certified that there is a case to answer based on the Rule 12 Statement and accompanying evidence, it may still be possible to conclude the case without a hearing before the SDT, by way of an Agreed Outcome.

An Agreed Outcome requires the solicitor to make admissions as well as to agree the sanction proposed by the SRA. Agreed Outcomes require the approval of the SDT; their terms must be realistic as the SDT may refuse to agree them.  This process can in appropriate cases give solicitor or firms certainty as to outcome and reduce costs.

What powers does the SRA have to request material and information from me when I am under investigation?

Under paragraph 7.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELS and RFLs and paragraph 3.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms, the SRA Accounts Rules and section 44B of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended), the SRA has far reaching powers to compel a solicitor under investigation (and others) to provide relevant information and documents as well as explanations in respect of such information or documents


How can we help?

  • Advising in respect of any Forensic Investigation undertaken 
  • Provision of advice and representation at any recorded interviews
  • Responding to the allegations against you 
  • Assisting with disclosure 
  • Advising and assisting with alternative disposals to a hearing (RSAs and Agreed Outcomes) 
  • Gathering evidence and preparing your case
  • Presenting your case to the SDT 
  • Advising and assisting with any appeal necessary


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Beckwith v SRA – are there implications for the regulation of professional accountants who face sexual misconduct allegations?

In our fourth blog in our series on Beckwith v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2020] EWHC 3231 (Admin), we turn our attention to consider what impact, if any, this landmark decision might have on the regulation of professional accountants. While the case turned on some very specific features relating to the regulation of solicitors as contained in the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Principles and Code of conduct, some parts of the judgment may have more general application.

Post-Beckwith – where to now for sexual misconduct cases?

In the two years preceding Ryan Beckwith’s appeal to the High Court, the SRA pursued a handful of other sexual misconduct cases before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (Tribunal). These cases are varied and fact-specific and include sexual misconduct in and relating to the workplace and conduct outside of work.

Where have we reached on costs in proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal post Beckwith?

Regulatory investigations across all sectors are increasing in complexity, with a corresponding increase in the size of the cost applications made by regulators upon successful prosecution. For solicitors facing investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’), the costs associated with prosecutions before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (‘SDT’) have made the headlines recently for their size. In Beckwith, for example, the Divisional Court referred to the SRA’s costs of c.£340,000 as “alarming.

The SRA’s updated NDA warning notice introduces welcome clarity

On 12 March 2018 the SRA published its warning notice on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). This was in the wake of the widespread publicity at the time given to NDAs which had been considered too draconian in reach and effect.

The use of artificial intelligence: interesting technological developments in the legal and accountancy sectors

In this second blog in our technology and innovation series, we look at some recent developments in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal and accountancy sectors.

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In the first of our Tech blog series, we take a look at how regulators in the accountancy and legal sectors are supporting technological innovation in their respective professional sectors, and how they themselves might adapt their regulatory approach in the new era of digital technology.

The SRA Standards and Regulations – a year on

It has been a year since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched its Standards and Regulations (StaRs) and even longer since the revised Enforcement Strategy was rolled out.  This time last year, we produced a series of blogs relating to launch of the StaRs and provided our views on what we thought you needed to know.

FAQs : The SRA's early character and suitability assessment

The route to obtaining a prestigious job in the legal profession is hard enough without the worry of whether past misdemeanours will prevent you from being admitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) as a solicitor. Convictions or cautions in early life (for even relatively minor offences), student disciplinary findings, civil debts and the like, are all capable of preventing prospective solicitors seeking admission to the roll becoming qualified as a solicitor. Since May 2018, prospective solicitors have had the ability to seek an early character and suitability assessment under the Authorisation of Individuals Regulations,[1] enabling them to understand if something they did in the past could be a bar to entry to the profession.  

Are you getting complacent with compliance?

After months of many solicitors working from home, it's easy to get comfortable. But with complacency comes the risk of non-compliance with your regulatory obligations. Jessica Clay provides a refresher on your duties, the risks involved in remote working, and how you can stay compliant.

Sexual misconduct allegations in law firms are ever-present – following due process is key

As another case involving allegations of sexual misconduct relating to a senior partner of a law firm has been concluded before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal just this week, resulting in the imposition of a £10,000 fine being confirmed on 22 July 2020, it is perhaps safe to say that, for now, there is no sign that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has lost its appetite to investigate and act on reports of this nature that it receives. 

“Regulation beyond the echo chambers”: who is listening?

Professor Stephen Mayson’s ‘Reforming Legal Services: Regulation beyond the echo chambers’ report has now been submitted to the Lord Chancellor as the final product of a two-year independent review into the regulation of legal services in England and Wales.  

Promoting a good working culture in law firms - Part 3: The importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives in promoting a good working culture

Julie Norris and Jessica Clay spoke at the end of January 2020 at the ARK risk and compliance conference on the topic of promoting a good working culture in law firms.  This is the final blog in a series of three blogs. It focuses on the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives in promoting a good working culture

Promoting a good working culture in law firms - Part 2: The importance of wellbeing in the workplace

Julie Norris and Jessica Clay spoke at the end of January 2020 at the ARK risk and compliance conference on the topic of promoting a good working culture in law firms.  This blog is the second in a series of three and focuses on the importance of wellbeing in the workplace.

COVID-19: If you get a fixed penalty notice for non-compliance with lockdown measures – do you have to tell the Solicitors Regulation Authority?

With BBC reports that there have been 178,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour in the last four weeks across England and Wales alone, if a solicitor receives a fixed penalty notice for a non-essential journey away from home - do they have to inform the SRA?

Promoting a good working culture in law firms - Part 1: What is a manager's role?

Julie Norris and Jessica Clay spoke at the end of January at the ARK risk and compliance conference on the topic of promoting a good working culture in law firms.  This blog is the first in a series of three and focuses on the role of managers in embedding this culture in the workplace

Guidance and updates for regulated legal professionals during Coronavirus pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruption and uncertainty in all reaches of our professional and personal lives. The legal profession is not immune to that uncertainty- particularly as measures have been put in place to ensure that both justice continues to be delivered and businesses can continue to provide services to their clients in these extraordinary times.

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