The Legal Services Board (LSB), in accordance with its statutory powers, has approved an application from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) to amend the standard of proof applied during professional misconduct proceedings.
The LSB’s approval of this application means the SDT becomes the last of the legal professional disciplinary bodies to adopt the civil standard of proof. This concludes the sector-wide adoption of the civil standard in line with the LSB’s 2014 thematic review of disciplinary processes, which set out that consistent use of the civil standard was best regulatory practice.
Legal Services Board Chief Executive, Neil Buckley said:
“I welcome the SDT’s decision to adopt the civil standard of proof, which brings their approach on assessing professional misconduct into line with that adopted by the rest of the legal services market and almost all professional regulators.
The LSB has long been an advocate for use of the civil standard, and I’m confident that its consistent use throughout the sector will have a significant positive impact on the protections afforded to the public.”
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Notes for editors:
- Read the Legal Services Board’s decision document for the SDT application here.
- The LSB is required by Part 3 of Schedule 4 of the Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) to review and grant or refuse applications by approved regulators to make alterations to their regulatory arrangements.
- Under section 178 of the Act any alterations to the rules of the SDT also require approved under Part 3 of Schedule 4.
- This application by the SDT was made in order to alter their rules to create new Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules. The most significant change is to the standard of proof used in disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct brought against those regulated by the SRA. Henceforth the civil standard of proof will be applied in all professional misconduct proceedings.
- The LSB may only refuse an application to alter regulatory arrangements (or introduce new ones) if it is satisfied that one or more of the grounds for refusal in paragraph 25 of Schedule 4, including the ground for refusal set out in paragraph 25(3)(b). In this instance no grounds for refusal have arisen.
- The Act created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
- The LSB oversees ten approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners. The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland is an approved regulator for probate activities only but does not currently authorise anyone to offer this service.
- As of 1 April 2018, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 146,600 solicitors, 16,600 barristers, 7,600 chartered legal executives and 6,000 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing (figures rounded to the closest hundred). The UK legal sector turnover was £33 billion per annum (2017) which is up 19% in cash terms since 2012.