Bar Standards Board to consider lowering proof threshold in professional misconduct cases

In a recently-published consultation document, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) is calling for views surrounding the lowering of the so-called ‘proof threshold’ when it comes to prosecuting Barristers who have been accused of professional misconduct.

The ten-page document draws upon concerns previously raised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

It says that the current standard of proof adhered to in such cases, which requires prosecutors to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that a defendant has committed professional misconduct, should be changed to match the civil standard, which allows for prosecutions ‘on the balance of probabilities’.

It adds that “different rules for lawyers, compared to other professions, beg the question why Barristers and solicitors are accorded what might appear to be preferential treatment”.

Sara Jaga, the regulator’s director of professional conduct, said that the BSB already had “robust procedures in place to make sure that the way in which we deal with complaints against Barristers is both thorough and fair”.

However, she added that the consultation would go a long way to give members of the public and Barristers alike further “confidence that any Barristers breaching the standards expected of them will be held to account” and “dealt with fairly”.

The consultation will run until 21 July 2017.

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