Accreditation appeals

You can appeal to our accreditation appeal panel if:

  • your application for accreditation or re-accreditation is unsuccessful
  • your accreditation is revoked

The process is different depending on the type of accreditation.

Individual accreditations

Our individual accreditations are:

If your application is refused or if you’re an existing member and your membership has been revoked, you may request an appeal.

You must put your request for an appeal in writing to the accreditation office, detailing the grounds for appeal within 28 days of the date you received written notification from us. 

If you fail to produce your representations within the 28-day-period, your application will be terminated without further written notification. We will only consider written representations.

An appeal fee of £258 + VAT is payable for all appeals.

We do not require you to pay when submitting your written request for an appeal. We will contact you to take payment once we have received and logged the request. Payment can be made by credit or debit card or by bank transfer (BACS).

The chief assessor will undertake the review and will reconsider your original application and take into account any additional representations you have made in support of your appeal.

They may also raise issues relating to your application, character and/or suitability, asking any questions they consider relevant.

Once we have received confirmation from the chief assessor of the outcome of the appeal, we will, where practicable, notify you in writing within seven days.

Firm accreditations

Our firm accreditations are:

All applications for CQS, Lexcel or WIQS accreditation and re-accreditation are assessed by our accreditation office using a scorecard and/or review card.

The accreditation office will make one of the following decisions:

  • accept the application and accredited to the scheme(s)
  • reject the application and refuse accreditation to the scheme(s)

There may also be instances where, as a result of information received during a practice’s accreditation to the scheme(s), the accreditation office take a decision to:

  • revoke an existing accreditation to the scheme(s)

Where a decision has been made by our accreditation office to reject or revoke accreditation to the scheme(s), practices may lodge an appeal to the accreditation appeal panel. 

Decisions made by the panel are final.

How to appeal

A decision to reject an application to the scheme

In the event that a practice’s application to the scheme(s) is rejected, they will be notified in writing and provided with a breakdown of the reasons for the decision to reject their application.

If that practice wishes to appeal the decision, they must lodge a written appeal within 28 days of the date of the written notification from the accreditation office.

When lodging an appeal, a practice should detail the reasons for their appeal. The written submissions and relevant documentary evidence should be provided for the consideration of the accreditation appeal panel.

A decision to revoke accreditation to the scheme

The accreditation office reserves the right to revoke accreditation to the scheme(s) at any time once accredited, for any reasonable reason.

Reasonable reasons shall include, but not be limited to:

  • any breach of the scheme rules or any breach by the SRO of any obligations set out in the scheme rules which are not remedied (if capable of remedy) within 14 days of being required by written notice to do so
  • the practice or the SRO doing or omitting to do something which, in the reasonable opinion of the Law Society, could be detrimental to the reputation and integrity of the scheme(s) and its brand
  • the ongoing accreditation of the practice posing an unacceptable level of risk to the scheme(s)
  • the practice no longer meeting the minimum standard required by the scheme(s) review card and/or scorecard, and/or
  • any failure to cooperate with requests for information by the accreditation office during the period of accreditation

A practice will be informed in writing of the reasons why the accreditation office intends to revoke their accredited status. The accreditation office will confirm that removal will be effected on a specified date.

Any appeal must be lodged within 28 days of the date of the written notification from the accreditation office, detailing the reasons for the appeal.

Written submissions and relevant documentary evidence should be provided for the consideration of the accreditation appeal panel.

There is an appeal fee of £258 + VAT payable for all appeals. All appeals must be accompanied by payment of the appeal fee, as the appeal will not be considered until payment is made.

Possible appeal decisions

There are two possible outcomes following referral to the accreditation appeal panel:

  • the practice will be informed that their appeal has been successful and they will be accredited/have their accreditation reinstated
  • the initial decision will be upheld and the practice will be informed in writing of the reasons why accreditation is being refused or revoked; those practices with an existing accreditation will be notified of the date on which the termination of their accreditation will take effect

The accreditation appeal panel’s decision is final and there is no further right of appeal.

The practice may, however, wish to reapply for accreditation if it can provide evidence that it has remedied the behaviour or deficiencies that gave rise to the initial decision.

If you would like to initiate an appeal against a decision made by the accreditation office, write to:

The Accreditation Office
The Law Society
113 Chancery Lane

Clearly outline the reasons for your appeal and include any submissions and relevant documentary evidence.

Your request will be acknowledged within 10 days.

You will then be advised of the date on which the accreditation appeal panel will consider the appeal. Representatives are not usually required or permitted to attend the accreditation appeal panel’s meeting.

Appeals will be assessed on the basis of the written submissions and supporting evidence only. It is only in exceptional circumstances that a practice may be invited to give oral evidence.

Practices will be notified of the accreditation appeal panel’s decision as soon as possible after the date of that meeting.

Appeal panel members

Chris Smyth - chair

Chris is a management and business consultant.

Admitted as a solicitor in 1980, Chris worked for a large regional firm for 10 years before moving in-house with Cheltenham & Gloucester plc. There, he undertook a variety of management and legal roles, finally as company secretary and general counsel.

He retired from the company in 2010 and is now runs his own management and business consultancy. He has been involved in a variety of projects for a number of different professional clients, industry regulators and trade associations.

Stephen Drake

Stephen is the CEO of Steeles Law Solicitors Limited. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1984 and trained and worked for eight years with two London practices before relocating to Norfolk.

At Steeles Law, he led the dispute resolution department, becoming a partner in 1992 before taking over as managing partner in 2007 and becoming CEO on incorporation of the practice in 2013.

Stephen was instrumental in the firm obtaining its Lexcel and CQS accreditations and is responsible for the firm’s compliance and maintenance thereof.

Outside of the law, Stephen is currently a trustee of Age UK Norfolk and a governor of a local academy school.

Anu Kapila

Anu is head of risk and compliance at Russell-Cooke Solicitors. After qualifying as a solicitor in 1992, Anu spent several years practicing in commercial litigation before moving into the regulatory and compliance arena.

At Russell-Cooke Solicitors, Anu’s role is to work with partners and their teams in relation to risk management, regulatory compliance and governance.

Anu has previously been a member of the SRA's Risk and Compliance Committee.

Victor Olowe

Victor is a leadership consultant at Winzest Consulting, specialising in treating customers fairly and profitably. Prior to this role, he was chief executive of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers for five years.

Victor is a non-executive council member of the Property Ombudsman and serves as a member of the their disciplinary and standards committee.

He is currently a non-executive director for the consumer codes approved board established by the Trading Standards Institute. He is also a lay non-executive member of the professional conduct committee of the Bar Standards Board and a governor at Morley College.

Previous roles include being head of practice standards at the Law Society/Solicitors Regulation Authority, quality manager with Pictons Solicitors, liaison manager at the former Legal Aid Board and a non-executive lay member of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme assessment panel.

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