Disciplinary tribunals could struggle without extra funds

Extra funding for legal disciplinary proceedings may have to be found to cope with the fallout from the economic crisis, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger has warned.

In a speech to the Disciplinary Conference in February, Lord Neuberger spelled out the regulatory challenges facing the profession. He warned that unreasonable delays in professional disciplinary proceedings penalised innocent professionals and undermined public confidence. Emphasising the need for effective case management, he said tribunals should abide by time limits and determine individual cases “as quickly as is consistent with the proper preparation of the case”. “Preparation, proper decision-making and judgment are of central importance here,” he said. “They will become all the more important if, as some anticipate, disciplinary investigations and proceedings increase as a consequence of the current difficult financial times.

Any significant increase in such proceedings may well place resource pressure on the disciplinary tribunals, and, even with the best will in the world and the most effective case management, such an increase might cause unreasonable delay. “If this happens, the professions will have to face up to the question of whether, and to what extent, they may have to increase funding of their disciplinary tribunals.”