The SDT has produced written Guidance on its approach to sanctions. Each case must be judged on its merits within the broad context of the Guidance. The SDT’s Guidance gives prominence to the approach indicated by the High Court in Fuglers and others –v- SRA.
It is not essential for the SDT to indicate in advance what sanction it has in mind. It would be wrong for a Respondent to assume that a particular allegation will result in a particular sanction. The SDT has wide discretion. The SDT is required to provide adequate reasons for the sanction it imposes.
An unsuccessful Respondent is likely to be ordered to pay the costs to the Applicant of the proceedings and investigation.
It may sometimes be inappropriate or excessive to make an order of costs in addition to a sanction, particularly, if the amount is large and difficult for the Respondent to pay.
The discretion of the SDT to award costs is wide and could in principle include a case in which the Respondent was not found guilty of any allegation.
A Respondent’s means are relevant to the consideration of both sanction and costs. However, the SRA must be given a reasonable opportunity to test the evidence as to means relied upon by the Respondent. If a Respondent is without means to pay, costs may be ordered on the basis that the order may not be enforced without leave of the Tribunal.
Following the issue of proceedings in the SDT it is open to a Respondent to consider whether it is appropriate to enter into discussions with the SRA to try to reduce the scope of the allegations or the approach adopted.
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Often we are able to assist in that process and the SRA is willing to listen to representations made by us on the scope of the clients case and withdrawal of doubtful or unmeritorious allegations.
Representation by an experienced advocate in the Tribunal can make a significant difference. I have unique insight and unrivalled experience in presenting cases to the Tribunal.
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“Anyone who has been the subject of disciplinary action by a regulator, and in my case the Solicitors Regulation Authority, will know that the impact extends way beyond your working life. It significantly impacts your personal and family life, affecting your mental wellbeing in the process.
Who you chose to advise and represent you is one of the most important decisions you can make.
In my case, after initially representing myself, I realised that this is not an area of law where a practitioner should go it alone, I therefore sought advice from a barrister and solicitor who I understood to be very experienced in this area. Not only was I advised incorrectly, as it subsequently transpired, but they also seemed to have very little regard for the impact the investigation was having on me.
Something did not feel right and after yet another period of despair, I came across Jonathan’s details online. It is no exaggeration to say that telephoning Jonathan was the best decision I made. When I called, I was immediately put through to Jonathan’s assistant who informed me that Jonathan was engaged in a tribunal hearing and would come back to me as soon as possible. Jonathan returned my call during a short adjournment, and from that moment on, I knew I’d found the right person. Jonathan came back to me as quickly as possible because he cares and fully appreciates the impact regulatory investigations can have. It was the first time in a long time that I felt a weight lift from my shoulders.
Within the space of a week, after providing Jonthan with everything he needed, Jonathan discussed the case in detail with me, providing clear and detailed advice on my case and the disciplinary process. He put me at ease and his expertise was, simply put, outstanding. The advice he gave on the likely outcome of my case, was spot on. Jonathan is so much more than what I consider to be an unrivalled expert in his field, he is a person who genuinely cares for his clients. Jonathan “had my back” and at the same time as showing compassion and understanding on a personal level, he remained determined and committed to achieving the best possible outcome in my case. Jonathan did exactly that.
In summary, I cannot recommend Jonathan Goodwin highly enough. It is no exaggeration to say that he was instrumental in getting me through one of the worst experiences of my life”
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I would like to start by saying again how very grateful I am for you and your incredible work. Your diligence, depth of knowledge, exceptional expertise, years of experience and the quality of your drafting and negotiating skills are in my view (and my experience) nothing short of phenomenal.
Thank you so very much for being so dedicated, for taking so much time and attention to understand my position, the details of the case, what I want to achieve and for giving me so much time to explain things thoroughly. I truly say this: you are an absolute credit and role model for how solicitors should be with their clients and cases.
I can only say that I am absolutely overjoyed and will be forever grateful.”