On 30 October you reported on a firm that had incurred over £80,000 of costs in resisting a failed SRA prosecution in the SDT. You reported that ‘unusually’ there was an award of £14,000 costs against the SRA.
The principle is that prosecutors in the public interest should not be liable for costs except in limited cases.
I know from experience when acting for a solicitor against whom a prosecution had been brought that the SRA does not prepare its cases competently. In my case, the SRA misinterpreted its own rules and had to withdraw the prosecution at the last minute, despite the fact that I had pointed out its mistake from the outset. We recovered limited costs against it.
Now the SRA apparently wants it all ways. It wants the blatantly unfair protection against costs when it has failed to bring a sound prosecution. It also wants to change the level of proof against the solicitors it prosecutes to the balance of probabilities (see Gazette 14, November). The consequence of a successful prosecution is the loss of livelihood for the solicitor concerned.
It is suggested that the level of proof needs to be changed to the balance of probabilities for the protection of the public. However things have gone too far. What about the protection of the innocent solicitor who, for one reason or another, has come under scrutiny of the SRA?
David Moore, Rodgers & Burton, London SW14