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SRA Consultations

Rethink SDT Standard of Proof –The SDT recently launched a Consultation on replacing the current criminal standard ("beyond reasonable doubt") which it applies to disciplinary proceedings with the civil standard ("on the balance of probabilities"). Lord Justice Leveson re-opened the debate back in 2016, with comments, albeit obiter, about the varying standards of proof at different stages of the regulatory and disciplinary process for solicitors. He suggested that the approach taken to proceedings at the SDT needed ‘re-evaluation’ to protect the public. More recently the Bar Standards Board ('BSB') announced their decision to change the standard of proof in BSB disciplinary proceedings from the criminal to the civil standard. Responses to the SDT consultation are required by 8 October.

Reporting Concerns Consultation – The SRA has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the rules regarding firms reporting potential misconduct.   The Consultation, which closes on 27 September, proposes four options for reform, which includes both subjective and objective elements. The SRA has said that any change to the rules on reporting misconduct would, along with the other rules set out in its new Code of Conduct, need approval from the LSB and that, if approved, they would be introduced in April next year.

Changes to Minimum Terms: In March the SRA launched its Consultation on changes to its minimum terms which include proposals to reduce the level of compulsory PII cover to £500,000 (and £1million for firms offering conveyancing services). Key proposals in the Consultation, which closed on 15 June 2018, included redesignating the Compensation Fund as a hardship fund, with eligibility only limited to individuals who have acted prudently and met financial hardship tests, including having assets of less than £250,000. Maximum payments would be reduced by 75% from the current level of £2milliomn to £500,000.

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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