Review into youth court advocacy

The Bar Standards Board is launching an independent review of advocacy within youth courts in association with ILEX Professional Standards.

The move follows the publication in June of Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC’s Inquiry into the Operation and Effectiveness of the Youth Court, which called upon the regulators “without delay” to require all legal practitioners representing children to be accredited to do so.

It recommended a minimum of ten hours of CPD-accredited youth training for new entrants, as well as two CPD hours of annual refresher training for all youth court advocates. The BSB said: “The aim of the review is to identify and examine the skills, knowledge, and attributes needed for youth court advocates to work effectively.

“The outcome will be an evidence base from which the two regulators can then identify any existing risks within youth court advocacy, and establish what, if any, regulatory action needs to be taken.”

The review will be supported by a reference group of legal advisers, youth justice charities, youth offending teams, and members of the legal profession and is expected to report its conclusions in February 2015. Barrister Angela Rafferty, member of an advocacy training working group established by Judge Peter Rook, argues in this issue of Counsel: “There is strong empirical evidence that the techniques and tactics which are currently employed in standard cross-examinations are failing to provide a credible and accurate account from children.” See p 22.