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Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), an update on the details


Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), an update on the details Following detailed consideration and analysis of the responses to the fourth consultation, the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG), which comprises representatives of the Bar Standards Board, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards, can confirm that the core components of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) are now agreed in principle. However, some technical details are still being discussed by JAG members.

There were 348 responses in total to the fourth consultation. 39 came from representative groups, 34 from individual solicitors, 269 from individual barristers and chambers, although 200 of these were short endorsements of either the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) or a circuit response. There were two responses from equality groups and four other responses. A summary and analysis of the responses will be published in the New Year.

It was clear following analysis of these responses that some adjustments to the Scheme need to be considered. As previously announced, this means that the Scheme will not begin in the New Year and a more detailed timetable for implementation will be available by the end of January.

As there is considerable interest in the Scheme, the JAG members have decided to issue further details now.

What is staying the same as previously stated?

The core aspects of the scheme have not changed and remain as outlined in the consultation. These include:

  • The advocacy standards and the competence framework
  • The central role of judicial evaluation in the Scheme
  • The approach to assessment at Level 1
  • The alternative use of assessment centres for entry to the Scheme at Level 2
  • The assessment method for those advocates who don't undertake trials
  • Each regulator having in place clear and appropriate regulatory arrangements to ensure proper communication with and disclosure to individual clients about how far the individual advocate will be able to progress their case
  • That the Scheme should not change current, lawful, patterns of practice
  • The availability of on-going monitoring, i.e. trained judges being able to alert the regulators directly of instances of incompetence that they observe in respect of all advocates in all types of hearing
  • Periodic re-accreditation
  • Phased geographical roll-out
  • The requirement to gather evidence and fully review the Scheme after two years of operation. Advocates who do not undertake trials will be identifiable to regulators enabling their numbers, distribution, patterns of practice and assessment profiles to be researched and reviewed, along with other patterns of practice, as part of the two-year review
  • The need to conduct and complete further targeted work on youth courts within the next two years
  • The mechanisms for dealing with incompetence

What is changing?

Proportionality and operational feasibility

  • The period of time for collection of the two competent pieces of judicial evaluation (JE) required to enter the scheme would be extended from 12 months to two years
  • The JEs would need to be obtained in successive effective trials over the two-year period
  • A level 2 advocate, who has been assessed as competent against all the standards at an assessment centre would similarly require two judicial evaluations over two years should they wish to undertake trial work at level 2.


  • As per the consultation, recently appointed QCs (i.e. those appointed since 2010) would be "passported” into the Scheme for up to five years from the date that they were awarded silk. QCs appointed before 2010 would register in the scheme as QCs and be assessed against the standards and criteria for their chosen level through gaining two judicial evaluations over two years. There will be a separate QC label under the Scheme e.g. "4QC” in order to differentiate QCs from other level 4 advocates.
  • Discussions should begin immediately with Queen's Counsel Appointments (QCA) on how to align or integrate the quality assurance and re-accreditation of QCs in the future.

Further issues for consideration

In the light of the consultation responses, JAG agrees that the following aspects of the Scheme require further consideration. These include:

  • The categorisation of the level of the case and the role of the judiciary in assigning levels to a case
  • Ensuring that each regulator's rules achieve consistency of outcome to support the single Scheme
  • The definition of criminal advocacy and the application of the scheme to specialist practitioners
  • The submission of evaluation forms (CAEFs) directly to the regulator by judges
  • Consistency of the approach to dealing with appeals against decisions taken by the regulators under the Scheme

Detailed work on these adjustments will now proceed in January. JAG is hopeful that operational agreement on these aspects will be reached reasonably quickly. Details will be released in due course.

Next steps

The JAG members continue to work together to refine the detail of the Scheme and finalise a revised implementation timetable. No further details will be available until the end of January 2013.


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