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Criteria for the appointment of legal advisers

Our legal advisers are appointed following a selection process that assesses their skills against a set of specific criteria. They are given training to ensure they are suitable to carry out the role.

Criteria for the appointment of legal advisers

Last updated: 29 July 2022



Adjudicators have access to legal advice during hearings either through a legal adviser or legally qualified chair. Legal advisers are appointed under our appointment rules.

The Fitness to Practise Rules 2019 (as amended) [1] and the Removal from the Register and Registration Appeals Rules 2019 (as amended) [2], also require us to publish criteria which a person must meet (whether in relation to qualifications, experience, competencies or other matters) in order to be eligible for appointment as a legal adviser.

This document constitutes the publication of those criteria.

[note 1] Rule 33A

[note 2] Rule 14A

Legal advisers

We appoint legal advisers who (do both of the following):

  • advise our adjudicators on questions of law and procedure
  • advise on and assist with the drafting of the decisions made by adjudicators

A legal adviser does not play any part in the adjudicator’s decision making. In order to avoid any perception of bias, legal advisers do not represent anyone involved in the proceedings (Social Work England or the social worker who is the subject of the proceedings).

Our legal advisers are appointed following a selection process that assesses their skills against a set of specific criteria. They are given training to ensure they are suitable to carry out the role.

Legal advisers must be over the age of 18 at the time of appointment. There is no maximum age for appointment.

Qualifications and experience

Legal advisers must be (one of the following):

  • a registered barrister, solicitor or chartered legal executive in England or Wales
  • an advocate or solicitor in Scotland
  • a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland
  • a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland

They must also (both of the following):

  • have 5 years post qualification experience
  • meet the current requirements of the relevant regulator for their profession (in terms of registration).

Skills and knowledge

Legal advisers should have sound knowledge of civil law in England and Wales, the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010 and other relevant legislation and current knowledge of relevant Court decisions. This is because they are required to have a demonstrable ability to apply professional expertise and knowledge to the work of the regulator [3].

Legal advisers must also demonstrate the following competencies:

Intellectual and analytical ability

  • excellent analytical skills with the ability to identify key issues, assimilate information quickly and accurately and manage complex material
  • the ability to provide accurate and timely legal advice on the order and conduct of proceedings
  • the ability to respond to queries or legal issues that arise during the hearing by applying professional expertise and knowledge in different settings

Communication skills (including drafting skills), integrity and sound temperament 

  • the ability to draft accurate and concise written decisions. These should reflect the decision made by the adjudicators and ensure reasoning is clear and robust
  • excellent verbal communication, with the ability to give clear and concise advice and information to all parties to the proceedings, in a way that can be easily understood
  • the ability to work within established policies and procedures
  • a demonstrable commitment to the 'Nolan Principles' of public life

Working with others

  • the ability to work effectively with the adjudicators, the hearings team and parties to the proceedings to ensure that decision making is fair, accurate and legally sound
  • the ability to deliver legal challenge where required (in a constructive manner)
  • willingness to accept and act on feedback from others
  • the ability to ensure that arrangements are made for a fair hearing, providing support to parties and the adjudicators during hearings in line with legislative and contractual requirements.

Confidentiality, fairness and equality, diversity and inclusion

  • a clear and demonstrable understanding of confidentiality, with respect to case information, evidence and to panel deliberations.
  • an understanding of the Data Protection Act 2018
  • a commitment to adhering to Social Work England’s information security and data protection policies
  • an understanding of the importance of securing confidential data appropriately and assist in preventing data security incidents
  • a proven role model for respectful, open and honest behaviour
  • a demonstrable commitment to equality, inclusion and diversity in service delivery
  • prepared to challenge discriminatory or inappropriate behaviour when needed

Knowledge of Social Work England’s policies and procedures

  • demonstrable commitment to (and understanding of) Social Work England’s statutory framework, policies and procedures
  • a commitment to remain informed and up-to-date on current issues

IT literacy

  • the ability to use Microsoft Office products and other electronic systems

[note 3] The Social Work England (Appointment and Functions of Advisers and Constitution of Panels of Advisers) Rules 2019

Values and behaviours

Our values and behaviours set out how we work. Everyone is expected to behave in a respectful and inclusive way.


Our behaviours framework includes (all of the following):

  • leading the way
  • working as one team
  • being a business
  • focusing on people, including those with lived experience of social work and registered social workers
  • embracing change
  • respecting each other


Our values help us by (doing all of the following):

  • providing a framework for work relationships and how we treat each other
  • providing a framework for customer service
  • providing a framework for achieving our vision and increasing the effectiveness of our organisation
  • creating an environment that promotes job satisfaction and emotional safety

By sharing our values, you will contribute to our culture and make this a great place to work.

We describe our values as:


Influence and drive change where needed


Carry out our work without undue influence from anyone


Have high aspirations for the social work profession, for regulation and for ourselves


Work with integrity in every aspect of our business


Work with experts in the social work profession


Honest and open about what we're doing and how we're doing it. Seek and act on feedback

Read our behaviours and values framework.

Equal opportunities

We are committed to embracing equality, diversity and inclusion by promoting and sustaining an open and supportive environment. We want everyone to feel they are able to bring their whole selves to work.

We expect everyone to have commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, both in their role and in how we regulate.

We are committed to ensuring that our procedures are fair, transparent and free from unlawful discrimination. We have a legal obligation to promote and advance quality of opportunity, and everyone who acts for Social Work England in any capacity is expected to adhere to the spirit and the letter of the legislation.


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