SDT Publishes Annual Report 2016
The SDT published its Annual Report 2016 on 12 April 2017.
The Report shows that the SDT sat for 260 days in 2016 (an increase of 41% over 2015) to hear 143 cases to a conclusion. The length of substantive hearings has markedly increased, with 51 cases lasting 2 days or more (31 in 2015). Two cases lasted for 10 days each. 57 court days were lost due to late adjournments. A total of 88 applications for adjournments were made, of which 45 were successful. The most common reasons given for such applications were: ill health (usually of the Respondent solicitor facing prosecution); Respondent not ready for hearing; and criminal/civil/other disciplinary proceedings pending. The average cost per court over the year, to include fees paid to Members for sittings, staff salaries, premises costs, and all office overheads, has reduced by approximately 18% to £9,293 (£11,294 in 2015).
The Tribunal received a total of 132 new applications from all sources, slightly less than in 2015. 8 such applications were made by members of the public against solicitors.
76 solicitors were struck off the Roll following a substantive hearing (56 in 2015), and 20 were suspended either indefinitely (1) or for a fixed term (19) (3 and 12 respectively in 2015).
The SDT is transparent about the cost of running the Tribunal. The accounts of its administrative company SDTAL are audited annually by external auditors and filed at Companies House. A detailed breakdown of budgeted figures is included in the Annual Report, together with actual expenditure in the previous 12 months (as audited). The SDT's audited accounts for 2016 will be available in June 2017. On current estimates it is expected that the annual cost to the profession of the SDT will be £2,496,150 or just £18 per practising solicitor.
The SDT's President, Edward Nally, commented: "... the Tribunal is an essential part of the regulatory machinery for Solicitors, but we are accountable and must continue to deliver an excellent and cost effective service. We will continue to do just that".
Susan Humble, CEO and Clerk to the Tribunal,stressed that "Members and staff of the SDT will continue to do what they are best at; ensuring that cases are dealt with justly".
Please click here for access to the complete Annual Report 2016.