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A reasonable doubt is not good enough

Not only is the change to the civil standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings unlikely to result in more convictions, it is also a key differentiator marking out solicitors as trustworthy professionals, argues Michael Stacey

24 June 2019

Can solicitors who are probably dishonest continue to practise? The answer is that they can.

Unless it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt that a solicitor is a crook, it is not enough for the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to believe that he is probably a crook to find a charge of dishonesty proved.

The almost inevitable sanction of striking off cannot be applied if the charge is not proved to the criminal standard.

That issue is central to the justification for the proposed change from the criminal to the civil standard of proof in Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal cases, which subject to the approval of the Legal Services Board, will be applied to new cases from 25 November 2019.

This is the same date that the SRA’s new Standards and Regulations replace the SRA Handbook.

Opponents have branded the change ‘antisolicitor’ and questioned the public interest justification, but there are good re...

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