News releases

Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) – countdown for notification and consultation responses

The SRA is reminding key stakeholders of two fast approaching deadlines for the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA).

From early 2013, QASA will provide a system of accreditation for criminal advocacy work in the Magistrates and Crown courts to protect and promote the public interest, and that of consumers, in ensuring that all those undertaking criminal advocacy are competent to do so.

The first deadline of 21 September relates to Solicitors and Registered European Lawyers (RELs) wishing to undertake criminal advocacy from January 2013 who now have just three weeks to go through the preliminary notification process under the QASA scheme . To date just under 7,500 have notified the SRA of their intention to seek registration.

The notification process is the first step in becoming recognised under the Scheme which is due to be launched early in the New Year and which will introduce a system of accreditation for criminal advocacy work in the Magistrates' and Crown courts.

The second deadline of 9 October 2012,relates to responses to the fourth and final consultation on the scheme. The Joint Advocacy Group (JAG), consisting of the Bar Standards Board (BSB), ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched the proposals in July on the final details of the scheme,including the revisions made since the last consultation closed in November 2011.

The paper takes into account further discussions with key stakeholders such as the judiciary, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Criminal Bar Association and the Solicitors Association for Higher Court Advocates.

Richard Collins, SRA Executive Director, said: "We want to ensure that key stakeholders are aware of these important deadlines and are able to respond while there is still time.

"The SRA is committed to continuing stakeholder engagement during the consultation process and has organised a number of consultation workshops with key bodies."  


Note to editors

The fundamentals of QASA are:

  • Advocacy standard against which all advocates will be assessed
  • Accreditation at one of four levels from Level 1 for work in the Magistrates Court to Level 4 for the most serious cases in Crown Court
  • Progression through the four levels is achieved by demonstrating competence to meet standards for the appropriate level.
  • Advocates can remain at one level but need to be re-accredited every five years
  • Advocates' level and method of qualification will dictate how they must be assessed by one of three methods - CPD, independent assessment organisation, or judicial evaluation
  • Judicial evaluation will be the compulsory means of assessment for advocates undertaking trials at Levels 2, 3 and 4
  • Trained judges in the Crown Courts may assess advocates if they have concerns about performance and notify the appropriate regulator for consideration

Notification and registration Once the Scheme launches, solicitors and RELs will need to register with the SRA in order to obtain their accreditation at one of four levels. Provided they are registered, all solicitors and RELs will be eligible to enter the Scheme at Level 1 enabling them to undertake criminal advocacy in the Magistrates' Courts; those with Higher Rights of Audience (Crime) will be able to enter at Levels 2, 3 or 4 to undertake work in the Crown Courts. Once accredited in the Scheme, advocates will be able to move from one level to another by a process of formal assessment, and will also need to seek reaccreditation once every five years.