Standard of proof should not be lowered

01 Feb 2020

Stephenson, R.

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It was disappointing to read the news article ‘Standard of proof for disciplinaries could change’ (VR, 18 January 2020, vol 186, p 43). As a former member of the RCVS Disciplinary and Preliminary Investigation Committees I have deep concerns about changing the standard of proof from the current ‘so as to be sure’ to the civil standard ‘on balance of probabilities’.

This issue has been debated many times in the past and requires very careful thought. The reasons given for the proposed change are that it is necessary to maintain public trust in the profession and that most other regulators use the lower standard. To my mind neither are persuasive arguments.

There is no problem of lack of public trust in the profession. The RCVS has very recently published a survey showing a 94 per cent trust level in vets1 – higher than for doctors or accountants...