- My LS
SDT standard of proof rule changes
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) announced it will apply to adopt the civil standard of proof when it hears cases brought by the regulator.
We are disappointed with the SDT’s decision on behalf of our members.
Last year, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal consulted on the making of procedural rules in relation to first instance applications to the SDT.
Within this consultation, it invited views on whether it should apply the civil standard of proof (‘on the balance of probabilities’) instead of the criminal standard of proof (‘beyond reasonable doubt’) when considering allegations of misconduct, in line with other professional disciplinary bodies.
The SDT published its response earlier this week stating it intends to apply to the Legal Services Board for changes to its rules to adopt the civil standard of proof.
If the proposed rule changes go ahead, the standard of proof rules will change from 25 November 2019 in line with the new SRA Handbook rules coming into force.
In anticipation of the SDT’s consultation, we proactively engaged with our members regarding the standard of proof.
When the SDT consulted on whether it should apply the civil instead of the criminal standard of proof when considering allegations of misconduct, we were in a good position to represent our members’ views.
We strongly advocated for the retention of the criminal standard of proof.
In our view, a move away from the criminal standard of proof would increase the likelihood of miscarriages of justice against individual solicitors.
Arguably, a lower standard of proof will result in increased referrals to the SDT and we remain concerned for our members.
We will monitor the situation when the new provisions are in place and continue to defend solicitors’ interests.