21 August 2013

BSB welcomes QASA approval

The Bar Standards Board welcomes the formal approval by the Legal Services Board (LSB) of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA).

Head of Quality at the Bar Standards Board Oliver Hanmer said: "QASA exists to protect the public from those advocates who are not as good as they should be. The majority of barristers will complete the process without any difficulty, but it is right that we act to stop those who fall short."

The Bar Standards Board will now make final adjustments to the QASA Handbook, in line with the minor amendments requested from the LSB. The QASA Handbook, which sets out everything advocates need to know about QASA, will be available to download from the Bar Standards Board and QASA websites at the beginning of August.

Barristers can get help with registering for the Scheme at a series of drop-in sessions where they can book a 10-20 minute individual session with a member of the QASA team. There will be a test system at the sessions where criminal barristers will be guided through each of the registration steps - from applying for provisional accreditation through to submitting evidence for full accreditation and what to expect from the evaluation process. Book your slot here.

The drop-in sessions for the Midland and Western Circuits will take place in the following areas:
Bristol on Monday 16 September; Novotel Bristol, Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6HY
Exeter on Wednesday18 September; ABode Exeter Cathedral Yard, Exeter, EX1 1HD
Birmingham on Monday 23 September; Novotel Birmingham, 70 Broad street Birmingham, B1 2HT
Nottingham on Wednesday 25 September; Jury Inn Nottingham, Station Street, Nottingham, NG2 3BJ

Details of drop-in sessions for the later phases will be made available closer to their respective launch dates.

Anyone undertaking advocacy in the criminal courts in England and Wales will need to register for QASA, and do so in phases according to the Circuit in which they primarily practise. The windows for registration are

• 30 September 2013 - 7 March 2014: Midland and Western Circuits (Phase One);
• 10 March 2014 - 13 June 2014: South Eastern Circuit (Phase Two);
• 30 June 2014 - 3 October 2014: North East, Northern, and Wales and Chester Circuits (Phase Three);

Once the window for registration in their Circuit opens, advocates can register online via Barrister Connect at: https://www.barristerconnect.org.uk/login/. They will then be required to self-assess their own level of competence - against the QASA levels table, set out in the Handbook - and complete a series of questions. A step-by-step guide on how to register for the Scheme will be made available from the Bar Standards Board website in August.

For more information about the Handbook and QASA, visit: https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/qasa

The Handbook has been developed by the members of Joint Advocacy Group, comprising the BSB, the Solicitors Regulations Authority and ILEX Professional Standards. The Group has been working on QASA since 2009 and there have been four formal consultations on the Scheme.

The LSB previously issued an extension notice to allow further time to consider the application by the JAG for approval of the Scheme. This meant that the publication of the Scheme Handbook on 17 June had to be delayed.

-ENDS-


Notes to editors

The webinar will be produced in time to accompany the road-shows in the autumn of 2013, and will be available from the Bar Standards Board website.

The Bar Standards Board regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales in the public interest. It is responsible for:
• Setting the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister.
• Setting continuing training requirements to ensure that barristers' skills are maintained throughout their careers.
• Setting standards of conduct for barristers.
• Monitoring the service provided by barristers to assure quality, and handling complaints against barristers and taking disciplinary or other action where appropriate

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 0207 611 1452