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Lawyer disciplinary processes: an empirical study of solicitors’ misconduct cases in England and Wales in 2015

  • Andrew Boon (a1) and Avis Whyte (a2)


The Legal Services Act 2007 effected major changes in the disciplinary system for solicitors in England and Wales. Both the practice regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and a disciplinary body, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, were reconstituted as independent bodies and given new powers. Our concern is the impact of the Act on the disciplinary system for solicitors. Examination of this issue involves consideration of changes to regulatory institutions and the mechanics of practice regulation. Drawing on Foucault's notion of governmentality, empirical evidence drawn from disciplinary cases handled by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2015 is used to explore potentially different conceptions of discipline informing the work of the regulatory institutions. The conclusion considers the implications of our findings for the future of the professional disciplinary system.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail:


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We are grateful to the Nuffield Foundation for a grant enabling us to establish a methodology for this research. We thank the Solicitors Regulation Authority for supplying data on the disposal of cases and Crispin Passmore and Chloe Zeng of the SRA for comments on a draft. Errors, interpretations and opinions are our own.



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16 Ibid.

17 Ibid, at 888.

18 Heinze, J and Lauman, E Chicago Lawyers: The Social Structure of the Bar (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1982).

19 Gray and Hamilton, above n 2, p 9.

20 At time of writing the case transcripts referred to in this paper were available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

21 This includes cases initiated before but concluded during 2015 but excludes those begun in but concluded after 2015. Note that all percentages cited in our report are valid percentages, that is, they are calculated by excluding missing data.

22 Abel, RL Lawyers in the Dock: Learning from Attorney Disciplinary Proceedings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) p 53.

23 See for example the use of case studies by Abel, ibid, and Abel, RL Lawyers on Trial: Understanding Ethical Misconduct (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) and a special issue of Legal Ethics (2012) 15(2).

24 We were unable, for example, to reliably identify the ethnicity of respondents or to explore the reasoning behind SRA decisions not to refer cases to the SDT.

25 But not rich analysis of grievance committee decision-making, advocated by Piquero, NL et al. ‘Exploring lawyer misconduct: an examination of the self-regulation process’ (2016) 37 Deviant Behav 573 at 582.

26 These included the Law Society's ‘Find a Solicitor’ database, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

27 Including The Law Society Trends in the Solicitors’ Profession Annual Statistics Report 2015 (London: The Law Society, 2016).

28 LSA 2007, s 1(1) and see also s 1(3).

29 LSA 2007, s 28(3).

30 Leach, PAThe new look in disciplinary enforcement in England’ (1975) 61 ABAJ 212.

31 Solicitors Act 1974, s 30.

32 Ibid, s 32.

33 Ibid, s 35.

34 [1994] 2 All ER 486.

35 Ibid, at 492e.

36 Jacob, MThe strikethrough: an approach to regulatory writing and professional discipline’ (2017) 37(1) Legal Studies 137.

37 Tosh, A The Regulators Experience (speech to World Trade Organisation symposium on cross border supply of services, Geneva, April 2005).

38 LSA 2007, Sch 16, para 49(d), amending Solicitors Act 1974, s 47(2)(c).

39 The SRA wished for commensurate powers requiring a change to the primary legislation, see SRA Consultation Paper: Proposal to Increase the SRA's Internal Fining Power 2013, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

40 SRA Handbook 2011 (as amended): Introduction, para 3.

41 See eg SRA The Architecture of Change – Part 2 (2010) para 16, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

42 Above n 40, para 3(a).

43 Lord Hunt of Wirral The Hunt Review of the Regulation of Legal Services (London: Law Society, 2009) and Smedley, N Review of the Regulation of Corporate Legal Work (London: Law Society, 2009), although Smedley proposed it for corporate firms only.

44 The Law Society The Architecture of Change Part 2 – Consultation on the New SRA Handbook Law Society Response (London: Law Society, January 2011) p 4.

45 LSA 2007, s 91.

46 SRA Handbook, above n 40, Principle 7.

47 SRA Code of Conduct 2011, Chapter 10.

48 Ibid, R.20.03 and R.20.04.

49 SRA Code of Conduct 2011, O(10.3).

50 Ibid, O(10.4).

51 Collier, J and Esteban, RCorporate social responsibility and employee commitment’ (2007) 16(1) Business Ethics 19.

52 For example, Axiom, promotes itself as being a global leading alternative legal services provider, at the forefront of a new era of legal services. It rewards employees with a form of equity, stock awards, for demonstrating ‘good client facing skills’ and ‘corporate citizenship’, doing away with partners and billing targets, see, accessed 22 February 2019. See also Binham, above n 1.

53 Lemke, TFoucault, governmentality, and critique’ (2010) 14(3) Rethinking Marxism 49.

54 SRA Annual Review 2015/16 (London and Birmingham: SRA, 2016), available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

55 Larson, MS The Rise of Professionalism: A Sociological Analysis (Berkeley CA: University of California Press, 1977) and Freidson, above n 12.

56 SRA A New Route to Qualification: The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (2017), available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

57 The SQE will ‘validate different routes to qualification, including “earn as you learn” pathways such as apprenticeships’, see news release ‘SRA announces new solicitors assessment to guarantee high standards’ 25 April 2017, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

58 See for example Legal Week City LPC: The Elite Mould 25 October 2004, available at and Law Society Gazette Controversial City LPC consortium splits as firms opt for different providers 25 March 2004, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

59 Levin, LCBuilding a better lawyer discipline system: the Queensland experience’ (2006) 9 Legal Ethics 187.

60 SRA Annual Review 2015/16, above n 54, p 30.

61 Ibid, p 33.

62 The Unit carries out the SRA's investigatory function, see, accessed 24 April 2019.

63 Freedom of Information Request SRA/0188.

64 Freedom of Information Request SRA/0174.

65 Ibid.

66 SRA SRA Regulatory Risk Framework (SRA, 2014) p 3, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

67 According to the SRA Annual Review 2015/16, above n 54, p 31 the SRA receives around 11,000 reports per annum from the profession, eg compliance officers or solicitors, the public, the police and the courts. We contacted the SRA and asked for a detailed breakdown of the reporting figures, which they provided via email on 12 April 2018.

68 SRA email, ibid. The remaining reports to the SRA came from: anonymous sources (1.7%), government departments (1.4%), the police (0.9%), insurers (0.5%), banks (0.4%), other regulators (0.3%), courts (0.2%), the press (0.1%), trainees (0.1%) and students (0.1%).

69 See for example Malcolm Ronald Hannaford (11085–2012).

70 SRA Architecture of Change, above n 41, para 157.

71 Ibid, para 158.

72 The firm's reporting accountants reported in four cases: see for example William John Owen (11068/2012) and Jeremy Simon Barker & Michelle Jane Newton (11327–2015).

73 SRA Annual Review 2015/16, above n 54, p 33.

75 SRA Annual Review 2015/16, above n 54, p 17.

76 Lonakan, MSelf-regulation in the Canadian securities industry: funnel in, funnel out, or funnel away?’ (2105) 43 IJLCJ 456.

77 In the first the charges were not made out (Ademuyiwa Olusesan Ogunnowo (11317/2015) and in the second the tribunal complained that the prosecution had not matched the evidence to the charges against multiple respondents: Heer Manak Solicitors, Kulwant Singh Manak, Robin Heer, Balbir Singh Dahil, Pritpal Chahal, Rajbinder Kaur Dhillon (11165–2013).

78 Ashworth, AEthics and criminal justice’ in Cranston, R (ed) Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

79 The SRA Annual Review 2015/16, above n 54, p 37 notes that the 129 SDT referrals in 2015/16 were a 34% increase in cases referred in the previous two years (2014/15 saw 96 referrals and 2013/14 saw 97) but that this increase was a result of a full case review rather than being reflective of a spike in concerns for this year.

80 SRA Solicitor Account Rules, 13 and 17; see, accessed 22 February 2019.

81 See for example Selcuk Karatas (11258/2014), Richard Arnold Wilkes (11281–2014) and Gerard Christopher Mann and Katherine Jane Bradford (11251–2014).

82 Beeley, Nancy Kan-Hai (Agreement 2 November 2016) (deficit of nearly £50,000 on client account remedied after a month – respondent rebuked and fined £2,000).

83 Dale Robert Walker (11254–2014), see further the FCA ‘Eight convicted for roles in unauthorised collective investment scheme’ 1 June 2015, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

84 See for example Mark Stanley Agombar (111092–2012), fined £15,000 and Daniel Gidon Zysblat (11222–2014), suspended for two years.

85 Michael William Robert Wood & Alan Burdett (8669–2002).

86 SRA Code of Conduct 2011, r 15, note (ix) and see SRA Account Rules, r 14.5.

87 The ARP was abolished in October 2013. See SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2012 as amended by the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013, available at and R Collins ‘Why the SRA replaced the Assigned Risks Pool’ LSG 21 July 2011, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

88 Christakis Pittordou (11316–2014), failure to disclose investigation by SRA in application for PII.

89 See for example David Alan Eager (111300–2014), Ian Robert Gannicott (11308–2014), Justin Philip Huntly Nelson (11304–2014) and Rebecca Sabena Asghar, Mohammed Ekramulhoque Mazumder & Mohammed Mazibur Rahman (11333/2015).

90 Matthew Albert Timmis (11193–2013), fined £10,000.

91 For example, Duncan John Dollimore (11303–2014) and Mark Christopher Ungoed Davies (11345–2015).

92 Eve Clare Carlile (11247–2014).

93 Duncan Hugh Ranton (11263–2014).

94 Claire Louise Tunstall (11289–2014).

95 See for example Chika Emmanuel Ike-Michael (11233–2014), struck off, Nazakat Ali (11275/2014), struck off and Syed Tanweer Akhtar & Benny Thomas (11262–2014), Akhtar was reprimanded and Thomas was struck off.

96 See for example William John Gregory Osmond (11355/2015) and Paul Geoffrey Dean Smith (11358/2015).

97 The Law Society, above n 27, p 46.

98 We identified 32 sole practices and 44 partnerships, leaving 29 firms unaccounted for. Sole practitioners were identifiable from SDT records and other partnership data. We also gleaned data from the firm's website, the Law Society's ‘Find a Firm’ database, above n 26, and the SRAs ‘Law Firm Search’, available at, accessed 22 February 2019. These sources provide details of the situation in 2015, rather than the time at which the offences occurred.

99 Based in the London office of Fieldfisher LLP. It was a partner at the London office who was brought before the tribunal, see Bartholomew Michael John Harte (11329–2015).

100 Respondents use various terms, such as ‘director’ or ‘equity member’.

101 The Law Society, above n 27, p 29, Table 4.3.

102 Three partners, two assistant solicitors and their firm, Heer Manak Solicitors et al, above n 77.

103 Joe Ezaz, Darren James Dale & Richard Spector (11151–2013) and Alexander Henry Bevan & Guy Robin Hollebon (11236/2014).

104 The percentages quoted here are valid percentages based on a total population of 94 firms. Firm information was missing in 11 cases.

105 Levin, LCThe ethical world of solo and small firm practitioners’ (2004) 41 Hous LR 309.

106 Lord Ouseley found institutional racism highly probable, see Independent Review into Disproportionate Regulatory Outcomes for Black and Minority Ethnic Solicitors (London: SRA, 2008), available at, accessed 7 March 2019.

107 John, G Independent Comparative Case Review: The Solicitors Regulation Authority (London: Gus John Consultancy Limited, 2014), available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

108 Ibid, p 13, para 1.30.

109 Ibid, p 14, para 1.33.

110 Ibid, p 11, para 1.26.

111 Ibid, p 9, para 1.14. The Ouseley report, above n 106 and Pearn Kandola, Solicitors’ Regulation Authority Commissioned Research into Issues of Disproportionality 2010, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

112 John, above n 107, p 11, para 1.25.

113 Coleman, JWCompetition and motivation to white-collar crime’ in Shover, N and Wright, JP Crimes of Privilege: Readings in White Collar Crime (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) p 341.

114 Abel, above n 22, p 41, and see T Sklar et al ‘Characteristics of lawyers who are subject to complaints and misconduct findings’ (20 January 2018), available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

115 Arthurs, HWWhy Canadian law schools do not teach legal ethics’ in Economides, K (ed) Ethical Challenges to Legal Education and Conduct (Oxford: Hart, 1998); Haller, LSolicitors’ disciplinary hearings in Queensland 1930–2000: a statistical analysis’ (2001) 13 Bond LR 1; Bartlett, FProfessional discipline against female lawyers in Queensland: a gendered analysis’ (2008) 17 GLR 301 and Piquero et al, above n 25.

116 See review of the literature in Abel, above n 22, ch 1, pp 54–56 and particularly Carlin, JE Lawyers on Their Own: A Study of Individual Practitioners in Chicago (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1962). Davies, MThe regulation of solicitors and the role of the solicitors disciplinary tribunal’ (1998) 14 PN 143, found that over 50% of SDT respondents were sole practitioners but Piquero et al, above n 25, at 575, suggest that the evidence from other jurisdictions is equivocal.

117 Abel, above n 22, p 52.

118 Ibid, pp 28–52.

119 See further Moore, J, Buckingham, D and Diesfield, KDisciplinary tribunal cases involving New Zealand lawyers with mental or physical impairment’ (2015) 22(5) Psychiatry, Psychology and Law 649.

120 Indeed, LawCare, established as SolCare in 1997, focuses on helping with addiction, mental health and well-being issues; see, accessed 22 February 2019.

121 Davies, MThe regulatory crisis in the solicitors profession’ (2003) 6(2) Legal Ethics 185 at 216.

122 See Hannaford, above n 69, which resulted in a £700,000 claim on the compensation fund.

123 See page 3 of the SRA Regulatory Outcomes Reports for March (12 interventions), June (7 interventions), September (16 interventions) and December (12 interventions) 2013, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

124 Two interventions are estimated to cost £1.8 million because of the size of the firms involved (SRA ‘SRA seeks solution to increased interventions’ costs’ 10 May 2013, available at, accessed 22 February 2019). For the cost of compensation fund pay outs to claimants, see page 3 of the SRA Regulatory Outcomes Reports for March (£3.45 million), June (£5.69 million), September (£2.72 million) and December (£5.15 million) 2013, above n 123.

125 SRA Annual Review 2015/16, above n 54, p 39.

126 Ibid, p 41.

127 See Sklar, et al, above n 114, who suggested that complaints data should be used as an active part of regulatory strategy.

128 Conclusions regarding propensity for misconduct assume the adequacy of detection measures and consistency of prosecution decisions.

129 Sir David Clementi, Review of the Regulatory Framework for legal Services in England and Wales: Final Report (2004) p 8, para 18.

130 Solicitors Act 1974, s 46.

131 In 2015, 132 respondents were solicitors, three were paralegals, two trainees, two firms and one respondent was a legal executive. Therefore, non-solicitors made up approximately 6% of the total population.

132 See LSA 2007, Sch 16, Part 1, s 48, introducing s. 46A to the Solicitors Act 1974, and Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Administration Limited (SDTA Ltd) Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Annual Report 2011–2012, p 10, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

133 LSA 2007, s 178.

134 Ibid, s 180.

135 Ibid, s 179.

136 Hannaford, above n 69.

137 SRA Code of Conduct 2011, available at accessed 22 February 2019.

138 Mohammed Imran (11246–2014).

139 Harte, above n 99, and Gail Evans (11285–2014).

140 Nancy Josephine Lee (11362–2015).

141 Hugh Alexander Jackson (11340–2015).

142 Above n 34 and see Richard John Tinkler v SRA and Others [2012] EWHC 3645 (Admin) [43].

143 Ali, above n 95, Imran, above n 138, and Mann and Bradford, above n 81.

144 Jackson, above n 141.

145 Nigel Guy De Laval Harvie (11257–2014).

146 The Law Society Guide to the Professional Conduct of Solicitors 1999 (London: The Law Society, 1999).

147 Hoodless and Blackwell v Financial Services Authority [2003] UKFSM FSM007, cited in Michael John Baker (11268–2014), at [21.8]. See also SRA Standards and Regulations, March 2019. These are the new SRA regulations, which come into force in November 2019 and will include a new Principle requiring honesty, available at, accessed 24 April 2019.

148 See for example Mann and Bradford, above n 81.

149 [2002] UKHL 12 at [27] per Lord Hutton.

150 Kirschner v General Dental Council [2015] EWHC 1377 (Admin).

151 Malins v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2017] EWHC 835 (Admin).

152 Ibid, at [29].

153 Williams v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2017] EWHC 2005 (Admin). See also B Hubble and H Evans ‘Is there a difference between dishonesty and lack of integrity?’ Solicitors Journal 22 May 2017 and the combined appeals, Wingate and Evans v SRA; SRA v Malins [2018] EWCA Civ 366.

154 European Convention on Human Rights, Art 6.3.

155 Re A Solicitor [1993] QB 69 and Campbell v Hamlet [2005] UKPC 19.

156 Insurance Fraud Taskforce: Final Report (January 2016), available at, accessed 22 February 2019; Independent Review of Claims Management Regulation (March 2016) para. 9.7, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

157 J Hyde ‘SRA wants lower standard of proof for tribunal prosecutions’ LSG 20 January 2016, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

158 See The Solicitors Regulation Authority v Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal [2016] EWHC 2862 (Admin), an appeal concerning a non-solicitor immigration adviser reinstated by the SDT after the SRA banned him from working for a regulated firm. Leggatt J and Sir Brian Leveson, the President of the Queen's Bench Division, declared that the SDT should apply the civil standard when hearing appeals against SRA decisions, and possibly across the board. See also J Hyde ‘Re-think SDT standard of proof – Leveson’ LSG 11 November 2016, available at, accessed 22 February 2019 and Legal Futures ‘High Court: Time to consider lowering burden of proof in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’ 11 November 2016, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

159 See Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Response to Bar Standards Board Consultation – Review of the Standard of Proof Applied in Professional Misconduct Proceedings (Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, July 2017), available at, and accessed 22 February 2019.

160 Per Sir Thomas Bingham MR in Bolton, above n 34, pp 518a–519b.

161 Case, PDoctoring confidence and soliciting trust: models of professional discipline in law and medicine’ (2013) 29 Journal of Professional Negligence 87.

162 SRA v Harvie, above n 145.

163 Baker, above n 147, £88,000 deficit in client account, no dishonesty, suspended for one year with conditions on return to practice.

164 Imran, n 138 above, two-year suspension.

165 Matthew Albert Timmis (11193–2013).

166 Theresa Ann O'Hare (11299–2014), where the respondent suffered from mental health issues.

167 Carlile, above n 92.

168 Hatamyar, PW and Simmons, KMAre women more ethical lawyers? An empirical study’ (2004) 31 Florida State University Law Rev 785 at 827.

169 O'Hare, above n 166, at [67.2].

170 Tunstall, above n 94, at [37].

171 Ibid, at [27.30].

172 Afshan Ejaz Nawaz (11294/2014), at [65.57].

173 Barker & Newton, above n 72, at [51.1]: respondents suspended for two years and six months respectively.

174 Ross Onotasa Monioro (11295–2014).

175 SRA v Anthony Lawrence Clarke Dennison [2012] EWCA Civ 421.

176 SRA v Heer Manak (1) and Dhillon (2) [2016] EWHC 1914 (Admin) and SRA v Wingate and Evans [2016] EWHC 3455 (Admin).

177 Ogunniyi v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2016] EWHC 3516 (Admin); Gurpinar v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2016] EWHC 1549 (Admin); Barnett v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2016] EWHC 116 (Admin); and 11293/2014 Yunus Agboola Alatise (unreported).

178 SRA v Heer Manak and Dhillon, above n 176.

179 R (on the application of Solicitors Regulation Authority) v Imran [2015] EWHC 2572 (Admin).

180 SRA v Wingate and Evans, above n 176. The respondents went on to appeal to the Court of Appeal to reinstate the SDT's acquittal: see combined appeals Wingate and Evans v SRA; SRA v Malins [2018] EWCA Civ 366. Wingate's appeal to reinstate the SDTs acquittal was dismissed but Evans’ appeal was allowed.

181 Monioro, above n 174, both sanctions were counted. Whereas Robert Andrew Schofield was involved in two cases (11292–2014 and 11322/2015), the sanction for each was striking off, so the sanction was recorded only once.

182 There are some discrepancies between some of the figures in this table and the sanctions data listed in the SDTs Annual Report 2015. For example, due to an omission the report lists 10 restrictions on practice, however, there were 12: SDT response to query 2 March 2017.

183 For example, Mann and Bradford, above n 81; Adrian Patrick Shaun Dann (11213–2014); Karatas, above n 81; Owen, above n 72; Wilkes, above n 81; Jonathan Charles Lewis (11244–2014) and Peter Ellis Taylor (11274–2014) were all struck off.

184 Andrew Donald Varley (10763–2011).

185 See Pascale Edith Marie-Anne Wood-Atkins (11270/2014), at [169].

186 Wood-Atkins, ibid, struck off. Two factors appear to have influenced this result. The first was that her actions contravened the SRA's warning card on Fraudulent Financial Arrangements, which stated that involvement in dubious financial schemes could lead to disciplinary action, see generally SRA Warning Notices, available at, accessed 22 February 2019. The second was that she had deducted large sums in costs from client monies.

187 Lewis, above n 183, and Mann and Bradford, above n 81.

188 Basharat Ali Ditta (11060–2012).

189 Lee, above n 140.

190 Frances Louise Brough (11148–2013).

191 Above n 145.

192 Richard Gregory Barca (11313–2014).

193 There were allegations of possibly racist comments, ibid, at [41].

194 Harvie, above n 145, at [45].

195 Richard Anthony Barnett & Anthony Augustine Swift (11249–2014), involving improper use of litigation funding and Kanwar Bhan & Monika Narad (11320–2014), where the main focus was a potential conveyancing fraud.

196 Barnett and Bhan, ibid, were struck off, while Swift, ibid, was suspended and Narad, ibid, was fined.

197 See, for example, Reginald Walter Hemmings (11283/2014), at [40].

198 As sensitive personal data, the Tribunal's reports rarely contain this information. Indeed, ethnic origin could only be gleaned in one case (South Asian, Nazakat Ali, above n 95). Moreover, the Law Society's ‘Find a Solicitor’ database does not record such details

199 Above n 107.

200 Ibid, p 106, at [656].

201 Ibid.

202 Ibid.

203 Ibid, p 10, at [120].

204 Ibid, p 15. The SRA has recently promised to publish a disciplinary report analysing its data on case prosecutions, including that on diversity: see M Cross 'SRA promises to publish disciplinary study' Law Society Gazette 21 February 2019, available at, accessed 22 April 2019.

205 See the new SRA Standards and Regulations, above n 148.

206 The Law Society The Future of Legal Services (London: The Law Society, 2016) p 16, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

207 The Legal Services Regulators Annex A: Progress on Deregulation and Market Liberalisation in Legal Services, A report for Ministers on deregulation from the legal services regulators of England and Wales (June 2015) p 3, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

208 Ibid, p 4.

209 Lonakan, above n 76.

210 These may not be the only such cases since many of the alternative disposals may also have been initiated in this way.

211 Martin, LH, Gutman, H and Hutton, PH Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (Amhurst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988).

212 The Law Society, above n 27, Table 4.3.

213 This issue was identified by the SRA as the first of seven risks to the legal services sector, SRA Annual Review 2015/16, above n 54.

214 See John, above n 107.

215 For example, the SRA recently reviewed 50 firms (ranging from high street to City), as a means of testing the sector's compliance with its new more rigorous money laundering rules, finding two-thirds of these firms lacking. In six of the firms the SRA found serious concerns meriting ongoing disciplinary processes: see, accessed 22 February 2019.

216 For example, over the last three years the SRA have closed down eight firms over money laundering concerns, and 14 firms closed of their own volition after the SRA raised concerns, see Barney Thompson ‘UK law firms disciplined over money laundering’ (Financial Times, 2 March 2018).

217 Dixon, D Entry to the Solicitors’ Profession: 1980–2011 (London, Law Society, 2012) p 2.

218 The Law Society, above n 27, pp 2 and 21.

219 Lonakan, above n 76.

220 Because it ‘means that those who are dishonest on the balance of probabilities (the civil standard of proof) can continue to practise’, Insurance Fraud Taskforce, above n 156, p 44. See also N Rose ‘Bid for higher SRA fining powers and lower burden of proof “on government agenda”’ Legal Futures 10 August 2017, available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

221 SRA v Martin Jeremy Day, Sapna Malik, Anna Jennifer Crowther, and Leigh Day (11502–2016) and see O Bowcott ‘Law firm Leigh Day cleared over Iraq murder compensation claims’ (The Guardian, 9 June 2017), available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

222 M Hogg ‘Leigh Day highlights the SRA's inconsistent approach to enforcement’ (Solicitors Journal, 7 August 2017).

223 See SRA ‘Hot Topics: Enforcement’, available at and SRA Enforcement Strategy (7 February 2019), available at, accessed 16 April 2019.

224 Middleton, DJThe legal and regulatory response to solicitors involved in serious fraud’ (2005) 45 Brit J Criminol 810.

225 Levin, above n 59.

226 McLean, SEvidence in legal profession disciplinary hearings: changing the lawyers paradigm’ (2009) 28 UQLJ 225.

227 See for example FC Zacharius ‘The purposes of lawyer discipline’ (2003–4) 45 Wm & Mary L Rev 675.

228 For example, by requiring legal services providers to give more information on quality and price and by providing platforms for consumer feedback, see , Competition and Authority, Market Legal Services Market Study: Final Report (London: CMA, 2016), available at, accessed 22 February 2019.

We are grateful to the Nuffield Foundation for a grant enabling us to establish a methodology for this research. We thank the Solicitors Regulation Authority for supplying data on the disposal of cases and Crispin Passmore and Chloe Zeng of the SRA for comments on a draft. Errors, interpretations and opinions are our own.


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Lawyer disciplinary processes: an empirical study of solicitors’ misconduct cases in England and Wales in 2015

  • Andrew Boon (a1) and Avis Whyte (a2)


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