Factors which support a decision to publish include:
- The importance of transparency in the SRA’s decision-making processes;
- The importance of providing information about regulatory action against regulated persons to enable, for example:
- Clients or prospective clients to make informed choices about whom to instruct;
- Clients and others to decide whether behaviour of concern should be reported to the SRA;
- The need to maintain public confidence in the provision of legal services by demonstrating what regulatory action is being or has been taken and why.
- The circumstances leading to the regulatory or disciplinary decision are matters of legitimate public interest or arise from facts that may affect a number of clients or other persons or relate to the administration of justice.
Factors which support a decision not to publish include:
- Potential damage to the underlying purpose of a Settlement or Issue Agreement, such as where substantial redress may be provided to clients or others but there is a risk of prejudicing the position of the solicitors or others in related litigation or potential claims;
- Inability to publish without:
- disclosing someone’s confidential or legally privileged information;
- disclosing someone’s confidential medical condition or treatment;
- prejudicing legal proceedings or legal, regulatory or disciplinary investigations;
- a significant risk of breaching someone’s rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
- In all the circumstances the impact of publication on the regulated person would be disproportionate.
These factors are not exhaustive and do not prevent the SRA from taking into account other factors that it considers to be relevant.
Published information will usually be limited to a short statement of the decision with brief factual details such as the basis of the sanction imposed, the reasons for imposition of conditions, or the basis of a referral to the SDT. Regulatory Settlement Agreements will normally be published in full.
Decisions will normally be published promptly but we retain the discretion to publish them or parts of them at a later time. This may be necessary, for example, if an investigation or prosecution is sensitive, such as where there is a risk of prejudice to other proceedings or regulatory activity.
There may be exceptional circumstances in which we decide that it is in the public interest that a decision or other information should be published. For example, in relation to an investigation giving rise to significant public concern, it may be in the public interest to disclose how the investigation is progressing or that it has concluded without an adverse finding against the regulated person.
Information about internal decisions, such as the imposition of conditions which are not otherwise in the public domain will be removed from our website three years after publication unless we consider that there are public interest reasons not to do so. Disqualification decisions or referrals to the SDT that result in strike off or suspension will remain on the website until the period of the suspension has ended or a successful application is made for the disqualification, indefinite suspension or strike off to be lifted.
Decisions may be amended or removed from our website where we consider that publication is no longer necessary in the public interest. We will, for example, update the summary of allegations to be made at the SDT in a particular case when the SDT has accepted amendment or withdrawal and that means the summary is materially inaccurate.