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Decision-making criteria

This set of criteria was archived on 5 October 2012 as part of our Transformation Programme.

Unsatisfactory explanation of conduct, decision to give REL notice of

Principles of regulatory decision-making, approved by the SRA Board, provide a set of standards applicable to decisions. The principles are supported by guidelines.

The reasons given by a decision-maker will normally include specific criteria applicable to the decision. SRA Policies relevant to decision-making are reflected in the criteria.

Scope of this document

This document applies to decisions to give notice in writing to an RFL, having requested their explanation in respect of a matter relating to their conduct, that the SRA does not regard their response, or lack of response, as satisfactory.

The effect is that the event of 'failing to respond satisfactorily' is added to the purposes for which a condition may be imposed, at any time, on the RFL's registration.:

The relevant provisions are:

Criteria

The decision-maker must be satisfied that:

  • the RFL has been requested to give an explanation in respect of a matter relating to his or her conduct; and
  • the RFL has failed to give a satisfactory explanation or any explanation.

Example

The example below is illustrative and does not set any type of precedent. Each matter is considered on its own facts and merits.

A registered European lawyer, Mr S is a member of US Solicitors LLP. An allegation is made that Mr S has misled a lender client in a conveyancing transaction. The mortgage instructions from the lender client indicate the purchase price of the property was £450,000.00 and that the loan was for £405,000.00. The instructions also required US Solicitors to notify the lender client of any discounts in the purchase price or if any part of the purchase price did not pass through client account. Mr S has submitted the normal Certificate of Title to the lender client confirming mortgage instructions are complied with.

However, it transpires that only the mortgage money passed through the client account. The Transfer and contract documents state the purchase price is £450,000.00 although a draft transfer on the solicitor’s file provides the purchase as £405,000.00.

We alleging that Mr S has:

  • misled his lender client;
  • acted without integrity;
  • failed to act in the best interests of his lender client; and
  • acted in a way likely to diminish the trust the public places in him and the legal profession.

Mr S is required to provide his explanation. Our letter requiring his explanation notifies him that if he fails to provide a satisfactory explanation within 14 days, we may decide to give formal notice in accordance with regulation 3.1(b) of the SRA Practising Regulations 2009. This provides that Mr S will be required to give six weeks notice when applying for registration.

Although Mr S replies, he fails to explain in any proper way why he has not informed his lender client that deposit money has not passed through client account. He has failed to demonstrate adequately what the actual purchase price was.

In these circumstances, in the absence of a satisfactory explanation to such serious allegations, it will be appropriate for us to consider whether Mr S should be subject to regulation 3.1(b).