The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Law & Practice (2nd edition)
Nigel West and Susanna Heley
£145, the Law Society
This expertly written book has two very distinct audiences. The first is those potentially facing the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal themselves who want to understand the law and practice. The second is that small group of practitioners, including me, who practise in this field.
The cases before the SDT are career-defining and life-changing. Those of us practising in the field spend our lives from the investigation stage onwards seeking to support solicitors and law firms in uniquely challenging cases. This second edition is welcome given the revised Solicitors Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal Rules of 2019. The updated content reflects both the revised rules, case law, and accepted best practice before the tribunal at the time of writing. Both its intended audiences will find it helpful.
The contents start with the basics of the tribunal’s constitution, the SRA decision to prosecute, and how jurisdiction and service occur. The bulk of the material thereafter, focusing on the law and practice before the tribunal, covers territory that will be familiar to practitioners in other areas, such as the case to answer, the response, standard directions, and disclosure rules. It does so in the context of professional discipline, and the approach taken is short, simple, and clear.
The weakest of the chapters is on settlement, something which is of rising importance before the tribunal. The material amounts to just 11 pages but perhaps could be expanded upon for the third edition, thereby offering the practitioner more guidance on this ever-evolving area.
This is a minor quibble. The second edition contains 150 pages more of material and is an outstanding example of practitioners in a niche area sharing their insights for the benefit of readers.
As someone advising clients on such matters, while it is possible to drag out heftier tomes, the concision and clarity provided make this a good starting point for those facing the tribunal and a useful tool in conference for the specialist practitioner. It is a book which is worth every penny for both of its intended audiences.
Paul Bennett is a solicitor and partner with Bennett Briegal LLP, a law firm which advises on legal practice and services