Eighty solicitors were struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in 2018, an increase of 38% over the prior year. At the same time the cost of disciplinary hearings increased – with prosecution costs awarded to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for cases coming before the SDT up by 28% in the past year.
Solicitors appearing before the tribunal paid £3.45m to the SRA following their cases in 2018, an increase from £2.7m in the prior year according to SDT’s annual report.
Richard Hegarty, solicitor member of the SDT, explains that costs have increased over the last ten years because hearings have become longer and are more likely to be contested, with the SRA and respondents often instructing leading counsel.
“The Tribunal members often take a sharp intake of breath when we are shown the costs schedule,” said Richard Hegarty. “It is important however that those before the Tribunal contribute to the costs of their appearance.”
The SDT is the body responsible for protecting the public interest and maintaining public confidence in the reputation of the solicitors profession. It adjudicates on allegations of disciplinary breaches of the SRA’s rules and regulations.
“The SDT adjudicates on difficult disciplinary decisions which can have a significant effect on solicitors and their firms,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions. “It is important that they consider each case in detail, but it is surprising that the complexity and cost of hearings has increased so much over a single decade. It is relevant that these costs are not covered by the minimum terms and conditions for solicitors professional indemnity insurance, but that this has not deterred respondents in their approach to defence.”
Brunel Professions is a leading provider of PII insurance broking to the legal profession. To find out more call Mark Sommariva on 0203 475 3275.