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Legal Services Board recommends civil standard of proof for SDT proceedings

The Legal Services Board report “The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Regulatory Standards report 2015/16” published this month lends support to the proposition that the civil standard (on a balance of probabilities) as opposed to the current criminal standard (beyond a reasonable doubt) should be used in disciplinary hearings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Rule 7.7 of the SRA Disciplinary Procedure Rules 2011 states that the standard of proof to be used for disciplinary hearings conducted by the SRA to be the civil standard.  No guidance exists as to the standard of proof to be applied to cases referred to the SDT.  The SDT therefore looks to the common law, where the criminal standard of proof must be applied for such matters.  In Re A Solicitor [1993] QB 69 it was held that " cases ...where what is alleged is tantamount to a criminal offence, the tribunal should apply the criminal standard of proof".  This was supported in the Privy Council authority of Campbell v Hamlet [2005] UKPC 19 and R (Doshi) v Southend-on-Sea PCT [2007] EWHC 1361 (Admin).

This recommendation is supported by Paul Philip, Chief Executive of the SRA stated that “Some recommendations, such as the adoption of the civil standard of proof by the SDT are, however, not in our gift, but we will continue to press for this important reform”. 

Click here to find out how Brett Wilson LLP regulatory solicitors can assist you if you are the subject of SRA or SDT proceedings.


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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.