The principal function of the Tribunal is to hear and determine applications in respect of solicitors concerning allegations of professional misconduct or breaches of the Rules, Regulations and/or Code relating to professional practice. The majority of applications to the Tribunal are made on behalf of the Solicitors Regulation Authority but, subject to a few instances under the Act where applications are limited to the Law Society alone, it is open to anyone to make a direct application to the Tribunal. It is important to note that the Tribunal does not investigate cases or collect evidence in support of applications. The Tribunal decides the application solely on the evidence put before it by the parties.
The Tribunal's jurisdiction currently extends to Recognised Bodies, Registered European Lawyers and Registered Foreign Lawyers. The Tribunal also has jurisdiction in respect of individuals who are not qualified solicitors, but who are employed or remunerated by solicitors.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is always legally represented before the Tribunal. Respondents are entitled, but not required, to be legally represented.
Applications to the Tribunal must be made in the form specified by the Rules (Form 1), supported by a statement setting out the allegations which the respondent to the application is required to answer and the facts and matters in support of the application and each allegation contained in it. Documents referred to in the statement should be exhibited to it.
The application, statement and documents exhibited must be sent to the Clerk to the Tribunal. The Tribunal's first duty is to determine whether there is a case for the respondent to answer. Each application together with its supporting statement and documents is considered strictly in accordance with Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules 2007, Rule 6.
For First Instance Proceedings Certified As Showing A Case To Answer Under Rule 6 On Or Before 25 October 2013 Only
If the Tribunal is satisfied that a case to answer has been established under Rule 6, for cases issued on or before 25 October 2013 it sets a date for a "pre-listing day". The respondent to the application is notified of that date at the same time as he/she is served by the Tribunal with copies of the application, supporting statement and documents. The respondent is also provided with a questionnaire to be completed and returned to the Tribunal's Listing Officer in advance of the pre-listing day.
The pre-listing day is an administrative procedure at which the respondent’s anticipated response to the allegations (admission/denial), dates to avoid when listing the substantive hearing and estimate of the length of the hearing are noted by the Tribunal's Clerk and Listing Officer. If the respondent fully completes and returns the questionnaire to the Tribunal in advance, it will not usually be necessary for either party to attend the Tribunal's offices on pre-listing day. The purpose of the pre-listing day is primarily to fix the date for the substantive hearing. That date will be fixed regardless of whether the questionnaire has been returned. However it is important that the questionnaire is returned if the respondent does not intend to be present at the pre-listing day, so that he/she can be reassured that sufficient time will be allowed for the substantive hearing and that it is not fixed to take place on an inconvenient date. Once a substantive hearing date has been fixed it is unlikely to be adjourned save for in accordance with the Tribunal's Policy/Practice Note on Adjournments.
For First Instance Proceedings Certified As Showing A Case To Answer After 25 October 2013
For all first instance proceedings certified as showing a case to answer after 25 October 2013, Practice Direction No. 6 "Practice Direction On Case Management For First Instance Proceedings" dated 22 October 2013 applies and Standard Directions or limited Standard Directions and Case Management Hearing Date will be issued and served with the proceedings. Please click here to be taken to Practice Direction No. 6.
It is open to any person to make an application under Rule 5 of the Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules 2007 direct to the Tribunal. It is however more usual for a person with a complaint or concern about a solicitor, firm, recognised body etc to approach the Legal Ombudsman for assistance first. If an application under Rule 5 is made to the Tribunal by an individual, the Tribunal may refer the application to an appropriate body for investigation. That body may in some cases decide to pursue the individual's original application on his/her behalf. Links to websites that may be of assistance when considering making an application under Rule 5 can be found on this page.