News releases

Regulators give QASA proposals the green light

The Boards of the respective members of the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG) - the Bar Standards Board (BSB), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) - have approved the detailed Handbook for the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) ready for the scheme's September launch.

The Scheme now has one last stage to complete when it is submitted to the Legal Services Board for final sign-off in May.

Once approved, the JAG members will work on finalising the remaining operational aspects of the scheme, as well as setting up a programme of events and webinars for stakeholders, in the run-up to the launch of the first phase in the Midlands and South-West circuits on 30 September.

This first phase of registration is due to end on 10 January 2014 but the BSB has decided to extend its first registration window by two months because of the timing of the publication of the Ministry of Justice's final proposals on 'Transforming Legal Aid'. The SRA is considering the implications of the BSB's amendment in respect of its own Rules and will announce the outcome of that consideration in due course.

The remaining two phases of launch - in London and South East and North, North East and Wales and Chester - will run from 10 March-13 June 2014 and 30 June-3 October 2014 respectively. All advocates conducting criminal advocacy should therefore have registered within the Scheme by October 2014.

The JAG has been working together on QASA since late 2009 during which time there have been four full formal consultations which have resulted in a number of improvements to the design of the scheme.

A JAG spokesperson said: "Once we have LSB approval, our focus will be on the final operational requirements to support the launch of QASA later this year.

"Our aim throughout this process has been to ensure that those who are represented by advocates in criminal cases, the public, consumers and other users of criminal advocacy services, and the judiciary, can be confident in the competence of advocates in the criminal courts.

"We have conducted a thorough consultative process to ensure the scheme is proportionate and fair. We are confident that QASA will work in the public interest by establishing a common set of standards for advocates across the three professions, irrespective of their original education and training, and by including a requirement to periodically demonstrate competence."

More information on QASA.

 
Print page to PDF