The Law Society has responded the the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal's (SDT) consultation on the standard of proof applied in cases brought before the Tribunal. The Society argues that the Tribunal should retain the criminal standard of proof, so that an innocent solicitor's career will not be ended if the Tribunal is not sure of the facts.
The Society affirms its belief that it is in the interests of both the profession and the public that the Tribunal operates effectively, and highlights that there is no evidence that the criminal standard of proof has prevented it from doing so. The Society has also reflected the views of members, put forward following a briefing last year, that the serious consequences of proceedings and the extremely high prosecution success rate are good reasons for the Tribunal to apply the criminal standard of proof.
The Society believe that it would be wrong to change the standard of proof simply simply in order to fall in line with other regulated professions. They argue that the disparity of sanctions and approach of other regulators, including the lack of any Fitness to Practise rules, confirm that a like-for-like comparison cannot be made with other professions, and conclude that the Tribunal should be consistent with other solicitors' tribunals in the United Kingdom that all establish facts beyond reasonable doubt.
The full response is available here.