QASA comes closer

Profession
Adjustments to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) have been announced, following vigorous debate on the fourth consultation on the scheme.


The Joint Advocacy Group (JAG) – comprising representatives of the Bar Standards Board, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards – has confirmed that whilst the core components of the scheme have not changed, some technical adjustments will be made.

Two competent pieces of judicial evaluation (JE) will be required for registration and the period of time for collecting them will be extended from 12 months to two years. The JEs would need to be obtained in successive effective trials over the two-year period. A ‘level 2 advocate’ assessed as competent by an assessment centre would similarly require two JEs over two years, should they wish to undertake level 2 trial work.

QCs appointed from 2010 will be “passported” into the scheme for up to five years from the date they were awarded silk. Those appointed before 2010 would register in the scheme as QCs and be assessed against the standards and criteria for their chosen level through two JEs over two years. There will be a separate QC label under the scheme eg “4QC” in order to differentiate QCs from other level 4 advocates.

JAG has said that discussions should begin immediately with Queen’s Counsel Appointments on how to “align or integrate the quality assurance and re-accreditation of QCs in the future”.

Further consideration will also be given to the categorisation of the level of the case and the role of the judiciary in assigning levels to a case; ensuring that each regulator’s rules achieve consistency of outcome to support the single scheme; the definition of criminal advocacy and application to specialist practitioners; the submission of evaluation forms directly to the regulator by judge; and consistency of the approach to dealing with appeals against decisions taken by the regulators under the scheme.

A further announcement about the details of the scheme was expected at the end of January. However, the core elements of judicial evaluation, periodic re-evaluation and phased geographical implementation will remain in place.

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