SRA Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Regulations 2013

Version 19 of the Handbook was published on 1 October 2017. For more information, please click "History" above.

SRA Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Regulations 2013

Introduction to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Regulations

Preamble

Authority: Made on 26 July 2013 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Board under sections 2, 79 and 80 of the Solicitors Act 1974 with the approval of the Legal Services Board under paragraph 19 of Schedule 4 to the Legal Services Act 2007

Date: These regulations came into force on 30 September 2013

Replacing: SRA Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Notification Regulations 2012

Regulating: The practice of criminal advocacy in England and Wales

Overview

Outcomes-focused regulation concentrates on providing positive outcomes which when achieved will benefit and protect clients and the public. These regulations aim to ensure that solicitors and RELs who want to conduct criminal advocacy in England and Wales are competent to do so.

Advocacy is part of an effective justice system. Solicitors and RELs are granted rights of audience in all courts upon qualification/registration but must, in those proceedings which fall under the definition of criminal advocacy, exercise those rights of audience only where accredited by the SRA under these regulations.

The QASA, to which these regulations give effect so far as solicitors and RELs are concerned, is designed so that all advocates in the criminal courts have undergone a process of accreditation to ensure they are only dealing with cases within their competence and that they are subject to assessment and independent monitoring of their performance against agreed criteria.

The intention is to give the public confidence that those conducting criminal advocacy have met appropriate standards and adhere to the relevant Principles.

The Principles

These regulations form part of the Handbook, in which the 10 mandatory Principles are all-pervasive. They apply to all those we regulate and underpin all aspects of practice. Outcomes relevant to these regulations are listed beneath the Principles.

You must:

  1. uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;
  2. act with integrity;
  3. not allow your independence to be compromised;
  4. act in the best interests of each client;
  5. provide a proper standard of service to your clients;
  6. behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;
  7. comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner;
  8. run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;
  9. run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity; and
  10. protect client money and assets.
Outcomes

The outcomes which apply to these regulations are that:

O(QS1)

you have achieved the standard of competence required of advocates conducting criminal advocacy;

O(QS2)

you demonstrate this competence through independent assessment;

O(QS3)

you act so that clients, the judiciary and the wider public, have confidence that this has been demonstrated.

Part 1: Interpretation

Regulation 1: Interpretation and definitions
1.1

The SRA Handbook Glossary 2012 shall apply and, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a)

all italicised terms shall be defined; and

(b)

all terms shall be interpreted,

in accordance with the Glossary.

Part 2: Quality Assurance Scheme For Advocates (Crime) ("QASA")

Regulation 2: Scope of scheme
2.1

You may not undertake criminal advocacy unless accredited to do so in accordance with these regulations and the QASA.

2.2

You may be accredited under these regulations at a level ranging from 1 to 4 corresponding to the increasing seriousness and complexity of criminal cases falling within those levels as set out in the QASA.

2.3

You may only accept instructions to conduct criminal advocacy where you are satisfied they fall within or below the level at which you are accredited, unless you are satisfied that you are competent to accept instructions for a case at a higher level in light of the particular circumstances and in accordance with the guidance in the QASA.

Regulation 3: Accreditation requirement
3.1

You may only be accredited under these regulations if you are a solicitor holding a current practising certificate or an REL.

3.2

You may only be accredited under these regulations at levels 2, 3 or 4 if you have obtained the higher courts advocacy qualification for criminal advocacy.

Regulation 4: General provisions relating to applications made under these regulations
4.1

You may register, make an application or give a notification under these regulations by:

(a)

completing the prescribed form;

(b)

submitting such information as may be prescribed; and

(c)

paying the prescribed fee, if any.

4.2

On receipt of an application under these regulations the SRA shall decide whether to grant or refuse the application, and shall notify you accordingly giving reasons for any decision to refuse the application.

4.3

Before reaching a decision on an application, the SRA may:

(a)

require you to undertake such other steps as the SRA may specify in order for you to be accredited at one of the levels under the QASA.

(b)

require from you or a third party, such additional information, documents or references as it considers appropriate.

Part 3: Accreditation for current practitioners

Regulation 5: Application of Part 3
5.1

Part 3 of these regulations applies to you if you were admitted as a solicitor or became an REL before 1 September 2015 .

Regulation 6: Accreditation at level 1
6.1

You may register with the SRA to conduct criminal advocacy at level 1 by submitting an application in the manner prescribed by the SRA.

6.2

After you have registered with the SRA under regulation 6.1, you will be granted full accreditation at level 1.

Regulation 7: Registration and Provisional accreditation at level 2, 3 or 4
7.1

You may register to conduct criminal advocacy at levels 2, 3 or 4 by submitting an application in the manner prescribed by the SRA.

7.2

After you have registered with the SRA under regulation 7.1, you will be granted provisional accreditation at your chosen level.

7.3

Subject to regulation 8.2 below, if you have been granted provisional accreditation at level 2, 3 or 4 you must apply to the SRA for full accreditation at your chosen level within 24 months of the date you were granted provisional accreditation.

7.4

If you do not apply for full accreditation or for an extension of time under regulation 18 within 24 months of the date you were granted provisional accreditation, you will not be accredited under these regulations.

Regulation 8: Full accreditation at level 2
8.1

Subject to regulation 8.2, if you do not intend to undertake trials, you may apply for full accreditation at level 2 by submitting an application in the manner prescribed by the SRA.

Guidance note:

(i)

A list of approved assessment organisations is available via our website - www.sra.org.uk. The assessment shall be in the form approved by us for the purpose.

8.2

If you do not intend to undertake trials and you have obtained your higher courts advocacy qualification for criminal advocacy by assessment in accordance with the SRA Higher Rights of Audience Regulations, you will automatically be granted full accreditation and will not be required to apply for re-accreditation until such time as is prescribed by the SRA.

8.3

If you intend to undertake trials you may apply for full accreditation at level 2 by submitting:

(a)

an application in the manner prescribed by the SRA; and

(b)

the prescribed number of CAEFs obtained in the prescribed manner in accordance with the QASA demonstrating that you have met the level 2 competencies set out in the QASA in level 2 trials.

Regulation 9: Full accreditation at Levels 3 and 4
9.1

You may apply for full accreditation at levels 3 or 4 by submitting:

(a)

an application in the manner prescribed by the SRA;

(b)

the prescribed number of CAEFs obtained in the prescribed manner in accordance with the QASA demonstrating that you have met the required competencies set out in the QASA in trials at that level.

Regulation 10: Level 2 advocates intending to undertake trials
10.1

If you are provisionally accredited in accordance with regulation 7 or fully accredited in accordance with regulation 8.1 or 8.2 at level 2 and intend to undertake trials, you must:

(a)

notify the SRA of your intention to undertake level 2 trial work in the manner prescribed by the SRA; and

(b)

within 24 months of the SRA accepting such notification submit the prescribed number of CAEFs obtained in the prescribed manner in accordance with the QASA demonstrating that you have met the level 2 competencies set out in the QASA in level 2 trials.

Regulation 11: Progression to level 3 or 4
11.1

If you are fully accredited in accordance with regulation 8.3 at level 2 or are fully accredited at level 3, and in either case you intend to progress to the level above, you must:

(a)

notify the SRA of your intention to progress in the manner prescribed by the SRA; and

(b)

within 12 months of the SRA accepting such notification submit the prescribed number of CAEFs obtained in the prescribed manner in accordance with the QASA demonstrating that you have met the required competencies set out in the QASA in trials at the level at which you are fully accredited.

11.2

After you have complied with the requirements of regulation 11.1 above, you may be provisionally accredited at the next level and you may apply for full accreditation under regulation 9 above within 12 months of the date you were granted provisional accreditation.

11.3

If you do not apply for full accreditation or for an extension of time under regulation 18 within 12 months of the date you were granted provisional accreditation, you will revert to the level at which you were fully accredited.

Part 4: Accreditation for new practitioners

Regulation 12: Application of Part 4
12.1

Part 4 of these regulations applies to you if you were admitted as a solicitor or became an REL after 1 September 2015.

Regulation 13: Accreditation at level 1
13.1

When you are either issued with your first practising certificate or become an REL, you will be granted full accreditation at level 1 subject to registration in the manner prescribed by the SRA.

Regulation 14: Accreditation at level 2
14.1

If you obtain the higher courts advocacy qualification for criminal advocacy by assessment, you will be granted full accreditation at level 2 subject to registration in the manner prescribed by the SRA.

14.2

If you intend to undertake trials at level 2, you must comply with regulation 10 above.

Regulation 15: Progression to level 3 or 4
15.1

If you are fully accredited in accordance with regulation 10 at level 2 or are fully accredited at level 3, and in either case you intend to progress to the level above, you must comply with regulation 11 above.

Part 5: Practitioners returning to QASA

Regulation 16: Procedure for returning to QASA
16.1

If your accreditation has lapsed, you may apply to re-enter QASA by complying with the procedures set out in Part 3 of these regulations.

16.2

If your accreditation has lapsed and you are applying for accreditation at level 1, you must submit evidence of assessed learning and development in the field of criminal advocacy in the period since you were first accredited at level 1 or since your most recent re-accreditation.

Guidance note:

(i)

You may tell us that you no longer wish to conduct criminal advocacy, in which case you should write to notify us and we will stop corresponding with you about accreditation or re-accreditation.

Part 6: Re-accreditation, special circumstances and appeals

Regulation 17: Re-accreditation
17.1

Subject to regulation 8.2 above, if you are accredited to conduct criminal advocacy, then you must apply for re-accreditation at your current level in the manner prescribed by the SRA within five years of the date you were first accredited or your most recent re-accreditation at that level.

17.2

The SRA may where it thinks appropriate ask you to apply for re-accreditation within a different period to that specified in regulation 17.1 above and you must comply with such a request.

17.3

You must supply appropriate evidence to support your application for re-accreditation demonstrating your competence to conduct criminal advocacy in accordance with the QASA.

17.4

If you fail to apply for re-accreditation within the period required by the SRA and have not been granted an extension of the period under regulation 18, your accreditation at your current level will lapse.

17.5

If you do not satisfy the requirements for re-accreditation, your accreditation at your current level will lapse and you will be provisionally accredited at the level below.

Regulation 18: Special circumstances
18.1

You may, on application to the SRA, apply for an extension of the period for accreditation or re-accreditation, which the SRA may grant. An extension of the period for accreditation or re-accreditation may be granted on such terms as the SRA sees fit.

18.2

You may, on providing the SRA with adequate reasons, apply for an independent assessment of your competence to conduct criminal advocacy at levels 2, 3 or 4 and submit such an assessment in place of one or more CAEFs.

18.3

An application under regulation 18.1 for an extension of the period for accreditation or re-accreditation must be made before the expiry of the date by which the relevant application for accreditation or re-accreditation must be made.

Regulation 19: Additional measures
19.1

The SRA may receive at any point during the currency of your accreditation CAEFs which raise a concern about your competence to conduct criminal advocacy. Where the SRA receives any such concern, either because you have provided such information or otherwise, the SRA may do one or more of the following:

(a)

appoint an independent assessor to conduct an assessment of your criminal advocacy;

(b)

require you to take specific steps;

(c)

revoke your accreditation at your current level; or

(d)

where such concerns amount to a breach of the Principles, refer you for consideration of disciplinary action.

Guidance note:

(i)

We will inform you and provide our reasons for taking action in any case where regulation 19 is relied upon.

19.2

Where you have applied for accreditation or re-accreditation at level 1 and your application has been refused, you will not be entitled to accept any instructions to conduct criminal advocacy and the SRA may recommend you to take specific steps in accordance with regulation 19.1 before you reapply for accreditation or re-accreditation as appropriate.

19.3

Where the SRA has required you to take specific steps under regulation 19.1(b), the SRA shall assess the outcome of that action before deciding upon any pending application or further application that you may have submitted or any further action that the SRA intends to take.

Regulation 20: Appeals against decisions
20.1

You may within 28 days of receiving notification of the SRA's decision appeal against that decision.

20.2

You may not appeal to the SRA against a decision by an assessment organisation where you have failed an assessment.

20.3

You may not appeal to the SRA against an evaluation by an external assessor or a Judge.

Part 7: Repeal, commencement and transitional provisions

Regulation 21: Repeal, commencement and transitional provisions
21.1

The SRA Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (Crime) Notification Regulations shall cease to have effect on 30 September 2013.

21.2

These regulations come into force on 30 September 2013 but shall be implemented in phases in accordance with a timetable prescribed by the SRA.

21.3

Subject to regulation 21.4, you must register under Part 3 of these regulations in accordance with the timetable prescribed by the SRA.

21.4

After the relevant date in the timetable prescribed by the SRA, you must be accredited in accordance with these regulations before you undertake any criminal advocacy.