23 March 2012

Update on QASA agreement

Agreement on a joint scheme to assure the quality of criminal advocacy has been reached by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Bar Standards Board (BSB) and ILEX Professional Standards (IPS).

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Additional details on the agreement are set out below.

 

Non-trial advocates

 

Advocates who only undertake non-trial hearings will be permitted to become accredited under the Scheme for a preliminary period of 2 years.  This will allow such advocates to appear in non-trial hearings in Levels 1, 2, and some Level 3 cases. 

Those requiring non-trial accreditation must notify their regulator at the outset that they intend to register to only do non-trial work.  They will be required to attend an assessment centre where they will be assessed against all the trial competencies required for a full Level 2 advocate.

Non-trial advocates will be required to notify their clients at the first meeting or the first opportunity in writing of their status. There will be searchable registers for all QASA accredited advocates that will record their level and whether they are accredited as non-trial advocates.

During the 2 year period, evidence will be gathered about the impact of non-trial accreditation on clients and the regulatory objectives.  This evidence will form the basis of a review which will decide whether this method of assessment should continue.

 

Final consultation

 

Given the substantive differences between the Scheme now proposed and the Scheme approved by the LSB in July 2011, it was agreed that another public consultation will be required which will cover the following areas:

  • The manner in which non-trial advocates will be dealt with under the Scheme (as set out above);
  • The allocation of cases to levels, including the scope of each level and how the level will be determined;
  • The extent to which QCs should be within the Scheme;
  • How QASA will apply to Youth Courts, particularly in relation to more complex cases.

 

Timetable

 

The previous implementation date of April will not be going ahead; we have agreed a new timetable. Key dates are:

  • Consultation on final proposals: June - September 2012
  • Opening of a notification period for all advocates: July - September 2012
  • Judicial training:  in three phases from October 2012 - September 2013
  • Finalisation and approval of scheme rules: September - December 2012
  • Full launch in phase one circuits - registration and judicial evaluation / assessment centres for phase one circuits: January 2013
  • Phase two circuits: June 2013
  • Phase 3 circuits: September 2013