Civil standard of proof for barrister professional misconduct proceedings
Following a public consultation earlier this year, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has decided to change the standard of proof applied when barristers, and others regulated by the BSB, face disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct. Subject to approval from the Legal Services Board (LSB), the standard of proof will change from the criminal standard (“beyond reasonable doubt”) to the civil standard (“on the balance of probabilities”). The change will bring the Bar’s disciplinary arrangements in line with most other professions.
The change to the standard of proof will require the approval of the LSB and a period of preparation for the BSB and the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service. The BSB therefore proposes to apply the civil standard to alleged breaches of the Code occurring after 31 March 2019.
Chair of the Bar Standards Board, Sir Andrew Burns KCMG said:
“We would like to thank all of those who responded to our consultation about the appropriate standard of proof for barristers’ disciplinary arrangements. If this change is approved by the LSB, it will be an important step forward in the BSB’s ongoing work to modernise the regulation of the Bar in the public interest”.
As well as being applied by disciplinary tribunals, the revised standard of proof will also be applied by the BSB’s Professional Conduct Committee when following the “Determination by Consent” procedure.