SRA Regulatory and Disciplinary Procedure Rules
These rules set out how we investigate and take disciplinary and regulatory action, for breaches of our rules and regulatory requirements. They apply to solicitors, RELs, and RFLs as well as the firms we authorise and those who work for them.
The sanctions and controls we can impose as a result of our investigation will depend on the scope of our statutory powers and will be determined in accordance with our Enforcement Strategy.
This introduction does not form part of the SRA Regulatory and Disciplinary Procedure Rules.
SRA Regulatory and Disciplinary Procedure Rules
- The SRA shall assess any allegation which comes to, or is brought to, its attention in respect of a relevant person to decide if it should be considered under rule 3.
- A matter is an allegation in respect of a person for the purpose of these rules if it raises a question that the person:
- is a solicitor, an REL or RFL and has committed professional misconduct;
- has committed or is responsible for a serious breach of any regulatory obligation placed on them by the SRA's regulatory arrangements, section 56 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, section 58 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, section 6 of the Civil Liability Act 2018, the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations 2017, the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 or any equivalent legislative requirements that may succeed the same;
- is a manager or employee of an authorised body and is responsible for a serious breach by the body of any regulatory obligation placed on it by the SRA's regulatory arrangements;
- is not a solicitor and has been convicted of a criminal offence, or been involved in conduct related to the provision of legal services, of a nature that indicates it would be undesirable for them to be involved in legal practice;
- in relation to a licensed body, has committed or substantially contributed to a serious breach of any regulatory obligation of a nature that indicates it is undesirable for them to carry out activities as a HOLP, HOFA, manager or employee of an authorised body;
- has otherwise engaged in conduct that indicates they should be made subject to a decision under rule 3.1.
- The SRA may carry out such investigations, and in doing so may exercise any of its investigative powers, as it considers appropriate:
- to identify whether a matter comprises an allegation under rule 1.2, or
- to the consideration of an allegation under rule 3.
- As soon as reasonably practicable after commencing an investigation under rule 2.1(b), the SRA will inform the relevant person accordingly and their employer, unless and to the extent that it considers that it would not be in the public interest to do so.
- Before making a decision under rule 3, the SRA shall give notice to the relevant person:
- setting out the allegation and the facts in support;
- summarising any regulatory or other history relating to the relevant person, or any associated person, which is relevant to the allegation, including to the question of propensity;
- where appropriate, making a recommendation as to the decision to be made under rule 3, regarding publication under rule 9, and costs under rule 10; and
- accompanied by any evidence or documentation that the SRA considers to be relevant to the allegation, and
- inviting the person to respond with written representations within such period as the SRA may specify (which must be no less than 14 days from the date of the notice).
- At any stage, an authorised decision maker may decide to take no further action in respect of an allegation and to close the matter. If so, the authorised decision maker may decide to issue advice to the relevant person, or a warning regarding their future conduct or behaviour, but it must give notice under rule 2.3 before doing so.
- The SRA may dispense with the giving of notice under rule 2.3 or 2.4 where:
- it intends to include a further allegation in a matter already subject to an application or ongoing proceedings before the Tribunal;
- it intends to make an application to the Tribunal in a case in which it is exercising its powers of intervention as a matter of urgency; or
- it is otherwise in the public interest to do so.
- The SRA must inform the relevant person, their employer (where they were informed of the investigation under rule 2.2) and, where practicable, any person who reported the allegation to the SRA, of any decision to close a matter under rule 2.4, together with reasons.
- At any stage the SRA may decide to exercise its powers of intervention or to take action in relation to the approval of a person or the holding of an interest in accordance with rule 13.8 or 13.9 of the SRA Authorisation of Firms Rules or Schedule 13 to the LSA.
- On finding that an allegation is proved (save for sub-paragraph (g)), an authorised decision maker may decide as appropriate in respect of a relevant person to:
- give a written rebuke, in accordance with section 44D(2)(a) of the SA or paragraph 14B(2)(a), Schedule 2 to the AJA;
- direct the payment of a financial penalty in accordance with section 44D(2)(b) of the SA, paragraph 14B(2)(b) of Schedule 2 to the AJA or section 95 of the LSA, together with the amount of any penalty;
- disqualify a person from acting as a HOLP or HOFA, manager or employee of a body licensed under the LSA in accordance with section 99 of the LSA;
- make an order to control the person's activities in connection with legal practice, in accordance with section 43(2) of the SA;
- impose a condition on the practising certificate of a solicitor, the registration of an REL or RFL or the authorisation of a body for such period as may be specified, in accordance with section 13A(1) of the SA, paragraph 2A(1) of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, section 9(2G) of the AJA or section 85 of the LSA and regulation 19 of The European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000;
- revoke or suspend authorisation to practise under the SRA Authorisation of Firms Rules;
- make an application to the Tribunal under section 47 of the SA for the allegation to be considered.
- At any stage, an authorised decision maker may:
- pending a final decision under rule 3.1 or by the Tribunal, impose interim conditions on the practising certificate of a solicitor, the registration of an REL or RFL or the authorisation of a body, where satisfied it is necessary for the protection of the public or in the public interest to do so; or
- following an application to the Tribunal under section 47 of the SA in circumstances in which the solicitor, REL or RFL has been convicted of an indictable offence or an offence involving dishonesty or deception, suspend or continue a suspension of their practising certificate or registration in accordance with section 13B of the SA.
- As soon as reasonably practicable, the SRA shall give notice to the relevant person of any decision made under this rule, together with reasons, and will inform the person of any right they may have to apply for a review or appeal of the decision.
- A decision is made on the date notice of it is given under rule 3.3.
- Conditions imposed under rule 3.2(a) shall take effect immediately or on such other date as may be specified by the authorised decision maker.
- An authorised decision maker may decide to direct the payment of a financial penalty under rule 3.1(b), where this is appropriate to:
- Where the SRA recommends the imposition of a financial penalty on a relevant person, it may, by notice, require the person to provide a statement as to their financial means which includes a statement of truth, within such period as the SRA may specify (which must be no less than 14 days from the date of the notice).
- Where an authorised decision maker has directed a person to pay a financial penalty: