Regulator ditches QASA

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has abandoned the controversial quality assurance scheme for advocates (QASA).

After six years, several delays and consultations and an unsuccessful judicial review by the profession, the BSB finally announced that it will not implement QASA.

Following a review, the BSB said it has decided to take a new approach in line with its risk and evidence based regulatory regime, which encourages barristers to take greater responsibility for their own learning and development.

BSB Chair, Sir Andrew Burns, said: ‘This in no way should be seen as a reduction in the BSB’s commitment to ensure that the public has access to good quality barristers. It is rather a reflection of our willingness to adapt and change our regulatory approach so as best to deliver our strategic objectives.’

Welcoming the decision, Bar Chair, Andrew Langdon QC, said: ‘The birth of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates was not celebrated by many and its death will be mourned by fewer.’

He said: ‘It is well known that many barristers were unhappy with the proposed scheme, not least because it risked placing both advocates and judges in a problematic position, given their respective roles during a trial.

‘Similarly, the Bar does not recognise that the concept of a “plea only advocate” was compatible with the role of defence counsel.’

QASA’s demise, Langdon said, allows space for the Bar itself, including through the work of each of the Bar Council, the Inns, the College of Advocacy, the Circuits and the specialist Bar associations, to reinforce standards in a more flexible and proportionate way.

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