24 March 2018

Statement by the Joint Advocacy Group on changes to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA)

27 January 2014

  • The regulators have revised the current registration timetable of QASA, while ensuring that registration is completed within 2014;
  • The regulators have agreed to amend the Scheme in accordance with the four suggestions of the Court; and
  • The regulators will consider any relevant recommendations from the Jeffrey review as they continue to review and develop the Scheme. 

Following the handing down of the judgment on Monday 20 January 2014, the Bar Standards Board, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards, have discussed the practical consequences of the outcome. In particular, they have considered whether a revision to the current registration timetable is required and the recommendations to amend the Scheme outlined in the judgment.

In the light of those discussions, the regulators agreed to revise the registration timetable. The new timetable is set out below. Of particular note is the extension of the first phase to 30 May 2014. Those advocates whose primary place of practice is within the Midland and Western Circuit, and who intend to undertake criminal advocacy as defined in the QASA Handbook, now have until 30 May 2014 to register with their respective regulator. 

Revised registration timetable

Circuits  Start  Close 
Midland and Western  30 Sept 13  30 May 14
South Eastern  31 May 14 3 Oct 14

Northern, North Eastern,

and Wales and Chester

4 Oct 14 31 Dec 14

Suggestions of the Court

The Court put forward, at paragraph 136 of the judgment, four suggestions for revisions to the Scheme. They are:

a) Amendment to the Criminal Advocacy Evaluation Form (CAEF) to require an advocate to identify when they were first instructed;
b) Amendment to the CAEF to require an advocate to identify whether advice on evidence was provided;
c) That a judge should be permitted to decline to complete an evaluation if they believe, because of the circumstances, it would not be fair to do so. In that event, the evaluation would be made in the next trial; and
d) In the event of a third judicial evaluation becoming necessary it should be of the first trial conducted by the advocate in front of a judge other than either of the judges that conducted the first two assessments.

In addition to the four recommendations, certain aspects of the description of the application of the Scheme within the Scheme Handbooks and the Scheme Rules were identified during the proceedings as requiring clarification. Amendments to the Scheme material will therefore be made, as necessary, in order to remove any ambiguity.

The Joint Advocacy Group (JAG), comprising the three regulators, welcomes the suggestions from the Court and has agreed that they should be incorporated within the Scheme. JAG is drafting the necessary amendments. This work will conclude and LSB approval, where necessary, will be sought in the next few weeks with the intention of re-issuing the Scheme Handbook by the end of February 2014.

A further announcement will be made by JAG at the point of re-issuing the Scheme Handbook.

The Jeffrey Review

JAG has noted that paragraph 134 of the judgment has been interpreted by some as suggesting that QASA should be delayed pending the outcome of the review by Sir Bill Jeffrey. JAG does not share this interpretation. The judgment makes it clear that the regulators have a duty to assure the competence of those they regulate. The judgment notes that the Jeffrey Review will be of relevance to this duty and to the development of QASA but there is no suggestion, explicit or otherwise, that the Scheme should be delayed pending its publication.

Each of the regulators represented on JAG has engaged with the Jeffrey Review and will continue to do so and we await Sir Bill's report with interest. A review of the operation of QASA during its first two years has already been agreed, and any relevant recommendations from the Jeffrey review will be considered as part of that.




BSB - Eugene Grant - 0207 611 1452 

SRA - Lesley Miller - 0121 329 6703

IPS - Richard Doughty - 01234 845710