QASA: Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (crime)
Register for our free webinar on QASA implementation: Wednesday, 26 June 2013, 12.30–13.30
News release (31 January 2013): QASA revised implementation timetable
Updated 20 December 2012
Following detailed consideration and analysis of the responses to the fourth consultation, the BSB, IPS and SRA, via the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG) have agreed on the next steps for introducing the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA).
As a result of the comments received in the many substantive and constructive responses–, some adjustments of detail will be made to the scheme. The scheme will not, therefore, commence in January. A revised timetable will be confirmed by the end of January. In the meantime, JAG can confirm that the core elements of the scheme remain. These include:
- the framework for assessment
- the central role of judicial evaluation
- periodic re-accreditation
- phased geographical implementation
A JAG spokesperson said: "We would like to thank all those who provided extremely helpful and detailed responses to the last consultation. This scheme is the one of the biggest changes to the assessment of advocates in many years and we need to ensure that we listen to those who have responded, to ensure we get the scheme right.
"While the debate has often been vigorous, this reflects our joint commitment to produce a workable scheme which meets the needs of legal consumers and takes account of the views of those whom we regulate."
We will use this site to communicate information and regular updates on the development of QASA to consumers of legal services and our regulated community. As we move closer to the launch date, we will add more detail and resources to help increase your understanding of QASA and help you successfully navigate and meet the scheme's requirements.
What is QASA?
QASA is a joint scheme currently being developed by the SRA, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards. Representatives from each organisation form the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG). JAG is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of QASA. The scheme, the first of its kind, will systematically assess and assure the quality of all criminal advocates appearing in courts in England and Wales. It has been devised to respond to concerns about the standards of advocacy in criminal courts and will ensure that in future, the performance of all advocates are measured against the same set of standards, regardless of the advocate's previous education and training. Once the scheme is formally launched, any advocate wishing to undertake criminal advocacy will require QASA accreditation.
What are the benefits of QASA?
QASA is designed to ensure that those involved in the litigation process have confidence in the standard of advocacy and advocates. QASA will ensure that all advocates in criminal courts only deal with cases within their competence. This approach reflects the SRA's commitment to protecting the public interest.
JAG has also ensured that the scheme is consistent with Regulatory Objectives set out in the Legal Services Act 2007. You can download an overview of these objectives (PDF 14 pages, 130K).
How will QASA work?
Using a process of accreditation and performance review, the scheme gives advocates the opportunity to demonstrate their competence against a set of agreed minimum standards in all aspects of criminal advocacy work. Advocates will be assessed against common standards, irrespective of their previous education, training and professional qualification(s). The standards will apply to four levels and advocates may progress through the levels by demonstrating, through formal assessment, their competence to do so. Advocates who choose to maintain their accreditation at one level will be required to reaccredit once every five years.
Key dates you need to be aware of
JAG is in the process of developing QASA. However, there are some key dates where you can engage or will be required to interact with the scheme.
The fourth QASA consultation has now closed. The consultation papers can still be viewed on the JAG QASA website www.qasa.org.uk. Further details on the scheme will be announced shortly.
We produced a draft equality impact assessment (EIA) to support the consultation exercise. It is important to note that this EIA is not final; it reflects thinking on current proposals for the implementation of the scheme as outlined in the fourth consultation document and the Scheme Handbook. The SRA is committed to undertaking further research, stakeholder engagement and analysis over the forthcoming months to develop and inform the EIA. An EIA on the final scheme will be published shortly.
Notification and notification regulations
Notification is the process in which solicitors and registered European lawyers wishing to undertake criminal advocacy notify us of their intention to enter the scheme and seek QASA accreditation once the scheme is launched. We will be using the information provided through the notification process to continue planning and development of the scheme.
Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Notification Regulations 2012 have now been made to ensure that all solicitors wishing to conduct criminal advocacy under QASA notify us of their intention to enter the scheme when it is launched at the turn of the year. These Regulations are included in a Version 4 of the SRA Handbook, published on 21 June 2012. Notification regulations and are in force from 2 July 2012. Regulations to implement the scheme in full will be made in due course.
The notification form can be found at https://forms.sra.org.uk/s3/qasa. If you require a hard copy of the form, please contact us.
Information to help you complete the form is available within the online form itself and in our Q&A on the QASA notification process.
Details on the launch of the scheme will be confirmed by the end of January. Once the scheme is launched, all advocates wishing to practice criminal advocacy will be required to register and then be assessed to obtain full accreditation within the scheme.
Contact and feedback
If you need any more information on QASA or have any comments or suggestions about the contents of this site, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please use www.sra.org.uk/qasa to link to this page.