Regulator must meet high standard of proof of wrongdoing

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) should retain the criminal standard of proof, the Law Society of England and Wales has said in response to a consultation by the tribunal.

"The high prosecution success rate at the SDT - 98% in 2015-16 - shows the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is perfectly able to bring cases when it has to meet the criminal standard of 'beyond reasonable doubt'," said Law Society of England and Wales president Christina Blacklaws.

"There is an inequality of arms between an individual solicitor and the well-resourced regulatory body. That is why the regulator should have to meet the highest standard of proof where any wrongdoing has been alleged - rather than the lesser 'balance of probability' used in civil law.

"We have reflected our members' views in our response to the tribunal's consultation, together with the case law that supports the tribunal in establishing facts on the basis that they are beyond reasonable doubt.

"The balances of probabilities (civil) test is too low a standard for bringing a case where conviction ends the professional career of a respondent."

Notes to editors

Read the Law Society's consultation response in full 

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Press office contact: Harriet Beaumont | harriet.beaumont@lawsociety.org.uk | 020 8049 3854