22 August 2019

BSB explains how it assures competence at the Bar

Following our decision last year not to implement the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), we have published more detail about how we assure the competence of barristers.

The approach reflects our move in the last few years to become a more risk-and evidence-based regulator that takes better targeted action to maintain standards of practice at the Bar. This means that more focused regulation can be introduced where concerns about professional competence have been identified - for example, the recently introduced competence and registration requirements in relation to Youth Court advocacy.

As well as specific targeted regulation, our approach to assuring standards includes a range of additional measures that have already been implemented. These include:

  • our Future Bar Training reforms that include a clearly defined set of knowledge, skills and attributes expected of all newly qualified barristers on their first day of practice, as specified in the Professional Statement for Barristers;
  • existing regulatory controls stemming from a requirement in our Handbook that barristers should not undertake work unless competent to do so.

The paper also explains how we use external indicators of the profession's competence to inform our regulatory approach. These include existing measures of barristers' competence such as assessments to join specialist panels like the Treasury Panel or for appointment as a QC.

If there are areas of the Bar's work that need further regulatory initiatives in the future, we will take appropriate and proportionate action to address such risks.

The approach explains why we have decided not to implement QASA and why we recently applied to the Legal Services Board to have the Scheme's rules removed from our Handbook.

More detail about our approach to assure competence is available on our website.