The SRA can intervene in your practice. The allegations have to be serious for this to happen but they do not have to be proven at that stage. There are two ways intervention can take place. The first is that the order is given without notice, which is usually for serious financial issues involving client money. The second is by putting you on notice that they intend to make an application to the court for the order. At that stage, you can defend yourself by making representations to the SRA directly as to why they should not intervene. You might need to attend court and defend the application should the SRA continue with their actions.
If the order to intervene is given then you will be stopped from practising with that firm. Another firm will be appointed to take control of the files and the bank accounts will be suspended; you will have no access to the firm nor its accounts. For all intense and purposes, this is the end of the firm as far as trading is concerned as even if the allegations are later reduced or defended, time will have passed and the firm will have ceased trading. You will usually be suspended from practising at this stage. There are conditions that could be placed on your continued practising which could include no public facing role, handling of client money or be involved in the running of a law firm.
How can we help?
We can advise you on the option to appeal against the SRA’s decision to intervene with the high court. This appeal must be put in place within eight days of the intervention. The sooner you have a team that will manage the conduct of the process, the less draconian the entire procedure is. Additionally, we can assist you in making representations to the SRA that an intervention is not the appropriate decision. Finally, we can help you to avoid an intervention by the SRA by negotiating a voluntary closure. This is a cheaper alternative which better protects the reputation of the solicitor.