Written 16th January 2024 by Ruth Peters
At Olliers, we are frequently contacted by clients who have concerns in relation to proceedings before their professional regulator. Often clients contact us at an early stage, aware that their regulator may be involved and looking to obtain legal advice at an early stage. So what exactly is the benefit in instructing solicitors at the outset?
What are the benefits of instructing a solicitor at an early stage?
Early engagement benefits all involved- a client will immediately have the benefit of legal advice and assistance but also on a purely human level an additional support network in the form of their defence team. We must emphasise that our specialist professional discipline lawyers – a partner led team- have dealt with professionals from all walks of life – teachers, paramedics, nurses, doctors, dentists, police officers, accountants, lawyers.
Our involvement will alleviate the undoubted pressures our client is likely feeling especially if they have never been in this position before.
We can liaise with the regulator/authorities on their behalf. Hearing updates from us (as opposed to the regulator themselves) will no doubt be better managed than receiving an unexpected email from the regulator which can often be complex and lead to many additional queries. In turn that will alleviate the pressure being placed on their family and colleagues who will inevitably be feeling the burden too.
In most regulatory proceedings the regulator or membership organisation can look to impose interim conditions pending the outcome of an investigation or case- this can happen at any time and often at short notice.
As an example, the General Medical Council (GMC) will often look to list an Interim Orders Tribunal (IOT) to consider the issue of imposing conditions upon registration. The IOT must initially consider whether it is necessary to impose an interim order to protect the public and whether this is desirable to maintain public and uphold proper standards of behaviour. If it decides that such an order is appropriate it must then go on to consider whether to impose interim conditions on the doctor’s registration. If it considers that an interim order with conditions would be inappropriate it then must consider whether to suspend the doctor’s registration.
Therefore, early engagement can address this early on and if it arises deal with it effectively. This could be the difference between conditions of practice and suspension – one will allow a client to keep working and earning the other will obviously not. Accordingly, the practical consequences are huge.
Early engagement also allows a client to start to provide instructions on the allegations or likely allegations – the sooner this is done the fresher it is in their memory and therefore the more reliable it is likely to be.
Early engagement also allows the client and defence team to discuss and implement strategies for the defence case- this allows us and them to control costs and the narrative to an extent.
Insight and remediation are key factors and considerations in most, if not all, regulatory proceedings. As such we can advise and signpost on actions to undertake that may convey/reinforce the same especially in cases where there are allegations of sexual allegations.
As well as regulatory experience – in cases involving allegations even with a hint of criminality – early engagement will allow us to take a holistic approach. We have experts who deal almost exclusively with pre-charge investigations and the close working relationship between our lawyers is key. This is not guaranteed in bigger firms where some of the regulatory and criminal lawyers are not even aware of the others existence in the firm.
Early engagement also (on a purely practical level) allows a client to spread fees as opposed to being hit with a bill a few weeks or months out from a hearing.
Olliers Solicitors – specialist criminal and regulatory lawyers
Olliers are uniquely placed to represent professionals facing regulatory investigations and prosecutions because of our criminal defence background.
If a regulated professional is facing dual investigation they need to consider a defence specialist who also deals with regulatory work. This is what sets Olliers apart from other professional disciplinary specialists.
Even if a criminal investigation would appear to have no bearing upon fitness to practice it is far better for any regulated professional facing a criminal investigation to instruct a criminal defence lawyer who is also a regulatory/professional discipline expert.
Olliers is one of the few firms in the country that specialises in both criminal defence and regulatory defence and this sets us apart from many others in the sector.
Please do get in touch with a member of the team for an initial discussion if you find yourself subject to criminal and/or regulatory investigation.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts