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How sensible is a lay majority at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal?15th October 2018 Business Crime
Do solicitors really stick up for their colleagues when they decide cases at the SDT?
The SRA think that in order to avoid suggestions of bias, the Tribunal should be comprised of a lay majority. Despite the lack of persuasive evidence, the SRA believe that a lay majority would deal with the public’s “perception of a structural bias in favour of solicitors„.
Perhaps solicitor members of the panel might actually feel professionally and morally compelled to protect their own profession by subjecting cases to thorough examination and imposing deterrent sanctions. An increase in the use of regulatory settlement agreements and the relatively low number of appeals by the SRA suggests this proposal is simply another method by which the SRA can encourage respondents to give in and save the regulator some money.
How many times have the SRA accused an SDT solicitor member of bias? It is consistent with the proposal that the standard of proof is lowered from the criminal to civil standard. If the SRA can be regarded as the police, perhaps we should have the equivalent of the CPS positioned between the regulator and the tribunal! This would deal with the profession’s - perception of a structural bias in favour of the regulator! I can’t see that happening anytime soon.
You can read more about the consultation paper here.
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