A lower burden of proof for the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has come another step closer to reality after backing from a government-sponsored report.
The Insurance Fraud Taskforce was published this week with a range of proposals for reducing fraudulent or exaggerated compensation claims.
The report recommended that the SRA become tougher in its pursuit of ‘enablers’ in the legal profession and have fining powers substantially above the current £2,000 limit.
The report also considers that the criminal standard of proof currently required to convict a solicitor at the tribunal could be lowered.
The taskforce suggested that this burden of proof is ‘disproportionate’, and said it was not acceptable that a professional who is a danger to the public should be able to continue practising.
The Treasury and Ministry of Justice, which are both involved in a review of legal services regulation, have both welcomed the report, and it seems likely the burden of proof will come under scrutiny by ministers in the coming months.
The SRA has responded positively to the proposals, and this will also feed into its review of the personal injury market planned for this year.
Chief executive Paul Philip said: ‘The taskforce called on the SDT to adopt the civil standard of proof and we agree that has to be the right way forward.
‘Alongside that, reviewing our fining powers would make the system more efficient and effective.’
Other recommendations from the taskforce include that insurers should provide the SRA with evidence regarding claimant law firms suspected of insurance fraud and that the SRA should investigate this and act robustly.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau should act as a single point of contact between insurers and the SRA.