Updated 1 February 2017
The SRA is the regulator of solicitors and law firms in England and Wales. It sets, monitors and enforces standards through the regulation of solicitors, firms, other individuals and bodies. It is also a licensing authority for alternative business structures.
SRA staff have delegated powers to make many regulatory decisions in respect of applications and referrals received from consumers including members of the legal profession. Decisions may be made by Managers, Officers, Supervisors and Adjudicators (referred to as "authorised officer") depending on the nature and type of decision that is required.
The Adjudication function sits within Legal Case Direction. Adjudicators make decisions relating to disputed, high profile or complex cases. They are functionally separate from the units that investigate applications or allegations.
Further details about the basis and practice of adjudicators and other decision makers can be found in the Compliance Committee Statement of June 2011.
Currently there is one Chief Adjudicator, three full-time permanent Adjudicators and 12 external Panel Adjudicators. Of our adjudicators four are male, 11 are female and one preferred not to say; 10 are white, four are black and minority ethnic and two preferred not to say. The function is managed by the Director of Adjudication and Chief Adjudicator.
Adjudicators make formal regulatory decisions on a wide range of powers contained in legislation, such as the Solicitors Act 1974, Legal Services Act 2007 and the SRA Handbook. These decisions are risk-based and in accordance with published policy and criteria. We seek to demonstrate that we are a fair regulator and that decisions are made on an objective and impartial basis.
All communication relating to individual matters referred for adjudication happens through the Adjudication Administration team or an Adjudication Panel Adviser. There is no informal, unrecorded discussion between investigators who refer cases for adjudication and the allocated Adjudicator(s). The Adjudication Panel Adviser's role is to provide any technical advice or support that may be required to Adjudication Panels.
Types of decisions made by Adjudicators
There are a wide range of decisions that may be made by a single Adjudicator or by an Adjudication Panel. This includes dealing with:
Applications to determine suitability for student enrolment or admission;
Applications to grant or refuse waivers;
Considering the imposition of conditions on practising certificates;
Applications to consider grants from the compensation fund;
Requests to intervene into firms;
Allegations relating to the conduct of individuals, making findings, imposing sanctions, including fines, for failure to comply with regulatory obligations;
Distribution proposal reports to determine beneficial entitlement to money held on statutory trust, and
Making Orders under sections 41 or 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974
Single Adjudicators make first instance decisions and deal with appeals from decisions originally made by authorised officers.
An Adjudication Panel, usually comprising three Adjudicators, may also make first instance decisions or deal with appeals from decisions made by single Adjudicators.
All of the legally qualified Adjudicators may make single Adjudicator decisions. All of the full-time Adjudicators may chair an Adjudication Panel. The resource is used flexibly to ensure operational efficiency in decision-making.
Adjudicators usually sit as a Panel comprising of three members, one of whom will be the chair. There is at least one lay and one legal member on a Panel. Technical support and advice may be provided by an Adjudication Panel Adviser.
Director and Chief Adjudicator
Nabila has an LLB in Business Law and qualified as a solicitor in 1993. Prior to joining the SRA in 2011 as Chief Adjudicator, she was Council Solicitor at the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) with responsibility for advising the Chief Executive, Registrar and Council on all legal matters. She also managed the legal team with responsibility for the overall investigation and conduct of cases before the Professional Conduct Committees of the GTC. From 2005 until 2008, Nabila was Principal Solicitor and Head of Service in the Legal Department of Birmingham City Council. She was a member of the Children in Safeguarding Proceedings sub committee of the Family Justice Council and contributed to two Law Society publications relating to public law proceedings.
- Member of Architects Registration Board. Chair of Investigations and Oversight Committee
- Member of the Academy for Healthcare Science Regulation Council
- National Member - Anti-Discrimination Panel – Football Association
- Mosaic mentor and member of Regional Leadership Group
Annmaria has a Law Degree, a Postgraduate Certificate in Corporate Investment Law and Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She trained in the city of London as a solicitor and worked as a commercial and residential property solicitor for a number of years. Before that, she worked at the Newspaper Society as an adviser. Annmaria has worked at the SRA since 2008 and her first role was as an Ethics Adviser providing guidance to the profession on the rules of conduct. She then worked as a Policy and Operation Executive in the ABS team where she focused mainly on the legal interpretation of the Legal Services Act 2007. More recently she was the Senior Technical Adviser for the Authorisation Directorate. In this role she prepared and trained all officers at the SRA in moving towards becoming outcomes focused risk based decision makers.
Matthew studied Law at Christ's College, Cambridge and holds a BA (Hons) and MA (Cantab) in Law. Matthew trained with global law firm DLA Piper UK LLP and qualified as a Solicitor in 2010. He practised as a construction and engineering solicitor and specialised in both contentious and non-contentious matters. This included advising on and drafting a variety of industry standard and bespoke construction and engineering building contracts for national and international projects, professional appointments and ancillary funding and security documents. Matthew also has experience of advising both public and private sector clients on an array of national and international building and engineering disputes including undertaking a number of construction adjudications for national clients. In 2012 Matthew moved to the international law firm, Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP, where he continued to practise as a construction and engineering solicitor before joining the SRA as a full time Adjudicator in December 2014.
Elaine qualified as a solicitor in 1983 and entered private practice with a firm in Cheltenham. She specialised in property law including commercial leasehold transactions, landlord and tenant law and residential conveyancing. She started a second career as a locum solicitor with responsibility for running the caseloads and managing the practices of several sole practitioners, as well as offering short and long term cover for multi-partner firms. She worked with practices in Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. She combined her private practice with a period of working as a lecturer in law at Worcester College of Technology. Elaine has served as a primary school governor acting as deputy chair. Elaine joined the SRA as an Ethics Adviser in 2008 where she advised the profession and other stakeholders on the application of the Code of Conduct and other conduct rules. She joined the Adjudication team from her role as a technical adviser in the Authorisation Directorate where she supported case officers in the correct application and understanding of the regulatory framework.
Legal Panel Adjudicators
Kim qualified as a solicitor in 1994 and has a Masters in Advanced Legal Practice. Since 2011, Kim has been an ombudsman for the Financial Ombudsman Service, dealing with banking, mortgage, consumer credit, pensions and insurance complaints. She is a Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution accredited mediator. Until December 2014 Kim was also Casework Director at the Pensions Ombudsman Service and Deputy Pensions Ombudsman. Previously Kim held senior legal and executive positions at the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority and the Pensions Regulator. She has also worked for the Government Legal Service and as a public prosecutor, criminal defence lawyer and as a legal adviser to magistrates. Kim has been an SRA adjudicator since September 2013 and chairs adjudication panels.
Christine qualified as a solicitor in 2000. She is the Associate Director for Regulatory Implementation at the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). Her responsibilities include leading the Regulatory Implementation team who develop, maintain and evaluate Ofqual's regulatory framework. Christine's private sector legal experience was gained over a period of seven years in medium sized law firms. She has experience of insurance litigation matters and following admission, specialised in planning and environmental law. From 2008 to 2015, Christine was the statutory Monitoring Officer and Assistant Director of Legal & Democratic Services at Coventry City Council. In 2015, Christine was appointed as a legal chair of the Investigating Committee at the General Chiropractic Council. Christine has been an SRA adjudicator since September 2013 and chaired adjudication panels. She has made first instance and appeal decisions as a panel member and also as a single adjudicator.
Judith was called to the Bar in 1997. In private practice, she worked in general common law, specialising in personal injury litigation. In 2003 Judith joined the Government Legal Service as an advisory lawyer and, having worked for a number of different government departments, she currently works for the Government Legal Department, advising the Cabinet Office. While working at the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) from 2012 to 2014, Judith carried out part-time adjudication work on behalf of the OFT concerning consumer credit licensing and anti-money laundering penalties. Judith has been an SRA adjudicator since September 2013 and also chairs adjudication panels. She has made first instance and appeal decisions as a panel member and also as a single adjudicator.
Dominic Spenser Underhill
Dominic is a Solicitor and partner in the firm Spenser Underhill Newmark LLP, based in London. He qualified in 1989 and has practised law in the City of London for most of his career. He specialises in dispute resolution and professional disciplinary law. Dominic sits regularly as an arbitrator on international arbitration tribunals and acts as a legal assessor on professional disciplinary tribunals. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is a Senior Visiting Lecturer at the School of International Arbitration, Queen Mary, University of London. Dominic has been an SRA adjudicator since 2009 and also chairs adjudication panels. He has made first instance and appeal decisions as a panel member and also as a single adjudicator.
Jayne graduated from Leeds University with a degree in French that involved living and working in France for a year. She was admitted as a Solicitor in 1984 and spent a few years in private practice in Norfolk with a caseload of criminal defence, civil and family work before joining the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the West Midlands. Jayne has remained in the CPS working initially as a prosecutor before taking on a variety of management roles. She has been involved in many criminal justice service initiatives at regional and national level and now heads up the Complex Casework Unit that handles the most complex and high profile work referred by police forces in the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia and by the British Transport Police nationwide. Jayne also has a role in the regulation of police officers as a Legal Chair of police misconduct proceedings for seven police forces. Jayne was appointed to the SRA adjudication panel in November 2015.
Lay Panel Adjudicators
Andrew has a career in the finance sector spanning nearly 30 years. As an associate director of a leading national investment company he carried out the roles of stockbroker, analyst and project manager directing large-scale regulatory changes. From 2009 until 2014, Andrew was employed as Head of Finance and Policy for a leading environmental social enterprise and charity in a role encompassing financial management, governance and policy development. Andrew now works within a Home Office inquiry team and acts as a consultant with the third sector in matters of financial management and policy. Andrew is a level 3 Head Coach working for a leading performance swimming club. He works with a range of swimmers including national qualifiers at both the British Swimming and Disability Championships. Andrew has been an SRA adjudicator since September 2013 and chairs adjudication panels.
Janet began her working life as a teacher of Biology and later changed career to qualify as a chartered accountant with a large firm of auditors. Her responsibilities included the conduct of Solicitors Accounts Rules audits. Following this she was Finance Director of Birmingham and Solihull Training and Enterprise Council and continued her career in other public sector educational bodies. Janet was the Head of Finance and Procurement at the General Teaching Council for England from 2002 until 2011. She spent several years as a further education college governor, particularly working on audit committees and currently volunteers at an historic garden trust. Janet has been an SRA adjudicator since September 2013 and chairs adjudication panels.
Margaret Sentamu, BA, MA, CIPD Affiliate
Margaret Sentamu is an independent diversity and leadership management consultant. Her background is in recruitment and selection where she has worked for a number of years in the private, public and third sectors. She is currently focusing on helping organisations to embrace, manage and engage with difference positively and effectively. Margaret is a lay member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Investigations Committee. She is a non-executive director and deputy chair of the Leeds & Yorkshire NHS Trust and on the board of Traidcraft. She is also a trustee and patron of a number of charities mainly to do with education, health and poverty in the Global South. Margaret has been an SRA adjudicator since 2009 and chairs adjudication panels.
Susan is a Youth Justice specialist having worked for a number of London Local Authorities. Her specialism includes developing intervention programmes for high risk young offenders. Susan has over 20 years experience working in the criminal justice system within Probation and Youth Offending Teams and is committed to addressing the over-representation of BME groups within the system. Her work has included designing and delivering local and national interpersonal development skills programmes for women and offenders and she has worked with large and small organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors within the UK. Susan is a trained mediator holding a Certificate in Applied Mediation from Canterbury Christchurch University and has been an independent Monitoring Board member at Her Majesty's Prison Wormwood Scrubs since January 2015. She has experience of investigating complaints and dealing with conduct issues relating to elected members. Susan has been an SRA adjudicator since September 2013.
Alex is a registered architect having studied at the University of Bath, University of Cambridge and Harvard University. He spent 25 years in private practice and more recently was appointed as Professor of Architecture at the University of Bath. Alex was elected to the Architects Registration Board in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He has played an active role in the regulation of architectural education and has also served as a lay member on the Qualifications Committee of the Bar Standards Board. Alex was appointed as an SRA adjudicator in November 2015.
Richard is a former Chief Superintendent who has recently retired after thirty years with the Lancashire Constabulary. He has considerable experience in strategic leadership and in managing people, performance, budgets, partnerships and stakeholders through a range of operational and organisational roles. He chaired and was a panel member for police grievance and disciplinary hearings. Richard is currently a Trustee for the Albert Kennedy Trust, a national charity supporting LGBT 16-25 year olds who are made homeless or who are living in a hostile environment. Richard was appointed to the SRA adjudication panel in November 2015.
Wendy joined the police service as a police cadet in 1978, becoming a regular officer from 1980 and serving in three different forces, namely Nottinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Leicestershire. She achieved the rank of Assistant Chief Constable. Wendy retired in 2010, after 32 years service, and holds a number of roles for various professional regulatory bodies. She has a Masters degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Loughborough University. Wendy was appointed to the SRA adjudication panel in November 2015.
- Chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Fitness to Practise Hearings
- Lay Member - Bar Standards Board Professional Misconduct Committee
- Lay Member - Health & Care Professions Council Fitness to Practise Hearings
- Associate Scheme Member of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary
- Selection Panel Member - Judicial Appointments Commission
- Lay member of Discipline Hearings - Judicial Conduct Investigations Office
- Chair of Discipline/Appeals/Licensing Hearings - Association of Certified Chartered Accountants
- Chair of Professional Standards Discipline Hearings - Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
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