What do the SDT’s Strategic & Operational Plans 2020–2023 Tell Us About Future Legal Regulation?

The SDT recently published two separate documents, one outlining their Strategic Plan for 2020 – 2023, and another their Operational Plan for 2020 – 2023. In the words of Edward Nally, President of the SDT and Chairman of SDTAL, “This is the first time we have published our Strategic and Operational Plans.

It is a practical example of our desire to be transparent in the delivery of our work”. Mr Nally, who is currently in his second and final term as President of the SDT and has considerable experience in legal stewardship, including as President of the Law Society of England and Wales in 2004-2005, has expressed the desire to ensure that the Tribunal becomes increasingly modern and flexible.

The Strategic Plan is designed to provide a high-level picture of the SDT’s future, with the Operational document setting out in more detail the activities and work priorities, which will be required to achieve the strategic objectives.

Why have the SDT published their Strategic and Operational Plans?

Both plans are peppered with key adjectives such as independence, impartiality, transparency, effectiveness, efficiency, equality, diversity, inclusivity. These are praiseworthy objectives and ones which the SDT (and the wider legal sector) must embody.

What are the SDT’s future objectives?

The three overarching strategic objectives of the SDT are as follows:

“Increase the confidence and understanding of the public and the profession in the SDT, its powers and decision-making processes, and its commitment to treating all people fairly and with respect.”

1. The Operational Plan states that this will be achieved through a combination of measures, including, amongst others:

  • Increasing the public understanding of the role of the SDT through improved access to education and information.
  • Fostering positive working relationships with stakeholders, balancing approachability and user-friendliness with maintaining the Tribunal’s independence.
  • Making it easier to access the SDT – including for those who are not members of the legal profession and those who are vulnerable.
  • Making the Tribunal’s published decisions easily accessible and understandable by the public.


2. “Continuously improve the Tribunal’s processes and procedures, using technology where possible, to maximise efficiency and resilience.”

This objective will be met by using best practice, encouraging continuous improvement, leveraging improved support for Tribunal members from administrative staff, the use of technology for efficiency and budget control, and ensuring a high-calibre of staff within the SDT, amongst others.

3) “Provide value for money.”

The SDT aims to provide value for money by:

  • Completing cases efficiently, effectively, and proportionately.
  • Maximising performance of staff members by ensuring they have the right skills.
  • Using performance indicators to ensure cases are dealt with expeditiously and efficiently.
  • Maximising court utilisation.
  • Promoting an environmentally, socially and economically ethical approach, whilst obtaining the best value for money from contractors and suppliers.


For these objectives, the SDT has also outlined a schedule of activities they will undertake in order to achieve them. These activities include, amongst others, improving diversity reporting, developing the SDT’s website to improve the public-facing user experience, documenting their governance framework and procedures, procuring a new “fit for purpose” case management system, and reviewing the SDT’s performance measurement framework.

Final words

It would be easy to dismiss the Strategic and Operational Plans by the SDT as a PR exercise, but this would be short-sighted. As specialists in solicitor disciplinary matters, we welcome all moves to make the legal industry as progressive, open, honest, and inclusive as possible.

We have been helping solicitors and other legal professionals with professional disciplinary and regulatory advice for over 20 years. If you have any questions relating to SRA investigations or an SDT appearance, please call us on 0151 909 2380 our complete our Free Online Enquiry.