Solicitors Disciplinary publish judgement

The Solicitors Disciplinary published judgements following hearings involving senior and high-ranking solicitors who were accused of unwanted intimate activity with junior members of staff during social events. The SRA alleged that such activity represented significant abuses of position.

These judgments are a stark reminder of how individuals and others deemed to have organizational investigatory responsibility can unintentionally attract disciplinary scrutiny from the regulatory body. The judgments show that each respondent was represented by specialist regulatory lawyers and the profile of the firms involved suggests that they would, in all likelihood, have sufficient funds in place to ensure there was some equality of arms between them and the SRA during the disciplinary procedure and hearing.


Less affluent firms may not have the same financial resources to hand in the event they were to face any kind of disciplinary allegations. Most hope that they will not attract the interest of the regulator but in reality there is always a possibility that the SRA may commence an investigation and disciplinary proceedings.

If this happens the SRA is rarely at risk of having to pay costs.  The regulator only has to show that it  does not act unreasonably in bringing or continuing with a case in order for their costs to be payable by respondents.

It is therefore essential to think carefully about how you can protect yourselves in the event you have to defend disciplinary or other types of proceedings and to consult with your insurance brokers to assess whether a Directors and Officers policy can meet some the risks facing you.

Directors and Officers liability insurance covers the owners, directors, officers and managers of a business against the risks associated with managing that business. Most policies will help to manage the financial impact of a fine but also assist with the costs of mounting a defence.

A random review of recent Tribunal judgments where there had been a hearing showed that only one third of respondents were represented by barristers or other advocates. The rest were either not represented or conducted the advocacy themselves.

There may be many reasons why lawyers are not represented but affordability must be one of the key issues.

The widely reported Leigh Day investigation undertaken by the SRA and heard at the Tribunal was notable for many issues but the experience led Leigh Day to launch a specialist team to act for other professionals involved in regulatory and disciplinary cases.

It was also notable for Leigh Day’s own advocacy of the importance of Directors and Officers insurance cover – their own website states the following:

It’s impossible to know exactly what the outcome would have been for Leigh Day without the Directors’ & Officers’ (D&O) insurance policy it had taken out before the issues arose. What we do know is it enabled the firm to respond comprehensively to the investigation and the allegations subsequently made with the support of expert external advisers. It also enabled the firm to conduct a full defence in the proceedings, as is fitting in matters of such fundamental importance to a firm and its practitioners.”

As much as you may think this will never happen to you, it may be something to put on your list to discuss with your insurance brokers.

Sarah Waddington Risk & Compliance are here to help. Visit our web site www.sarahwaddingtoncompliance.com and get in touch today details of how we can help.

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