Farriers Registration Council is embarking on a consultation that they would like the public and horse owners to have the opportunity to comment on. The consultation survey runs until 5th August 2022

Farriers Registration Council (FRC) – Consultation on Standard of Proof used at Stage 1 of the Disciplinary Process

The FRC is a statutory regulator exercising a number of statutory powers at the direction of Parliament, including at s14 of Farriers Registration Act (FRA) “… for the consideration and determination of disciplinary cases …”. The Council delivers this function through its statutory committees, the Investigating Committee (IC) and the Disciplinary Committee (DC), both of which are operated independently of the Council, and independently of each other. The standard of proof is the level to which the regulator must prove factual allegations against a registrant, and the standard of proof used in the disciplinary process is a matter of policy choice for the Council.

In recent years there has been a marked shift by regulators, such that in England and Wales only the RCVS and the FRC use the criminal standard of proof “so as to be sure” (synonymous with “beyond reasonable doubt”), whereas all other regulators use the civil standard “more likely than not” (or “on the balance of probabilities”). The position adopted by the Council may be described as at variance with other regulatory bodies exercising similar powers.

The rationale for application of the civil standard is that the fundamental purpose of professional regulation and discipline is protection of the public, and not punishment of an individual who commits misconduct. Although the consequence of regulatory proceedings may be severe they do not include potential for loss of liberty. Professional regulatory proceedings are not part of the criminal jurisdiction but part of the civil jurisdiction and, as such, the proper standard of proof to apply in such proceedings is the civil standard. This rationale is underscored by recent case law.

The Council has decided that it should conduct a consultation on the matter with the profession and the public. The Council is keen to receive the views of the public, and in particular the owners of equines. The consultation paper setting out the issues may be read on the FRC website at www.farrier-reg.gov.uk. The consultation is open for comments until 5th August 2022.