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QASA to progress

The High Court announced its ruling on Monday 20 January in favour of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) proceeding, but with some minor amendments.

The ruling supported the Legal Services Board (LSB)’s decision to approve the joint scheme to assure the quality of criminal advocacy put forward by us, the SRA, Bar Standards Board (BSB), and ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) via the Joint Advocacy Group. Following discussion, the regulators have:

  • revised the current registration timetable of QASA, while ensuring that registration is completed within 2014
  • agreed to amend the Scheme in accordance with the four suggestions of the Court
  • will consider any relevant recommendations from the Jeffrey review as they continue to review and develop the scheme

Advocates in the following circuits intending to undertake criminal advocacy are now required to register with the scheme in accordance with the following revised timetable:

  • Midlands and Western Circuits by 30 May 2014 (previously 9 March)
  • South Eastern Circuit between 31 May and 3 October (previously 10 March 2-13 June 2014)
  • North East, Northern, Wales and Chester Circuits between 4 October and 31 December 2014 (previously 30 June -3 October 2014)

The four amendments recommended are:

  1. to the Criminal Advocacy Evaluation Form (CAEF) to require an advocate to identify when they were first instructed
  2. to the CAEF to require an advocate to identify whether advice on evidence was provided
  3. that a judge should be permitted to decline to complete an evaluation if they believe, because of the circumstances, it would not be fair to do so. In that event, the evaluation would be made in the next trial
  4. In the event of a third judicial evaluation becoming necessary, it should be of the first trial conducted by the advocate in front of a judge other than either of the judges that conducted the first two assessments

Also, the Court identified certain aspects of the description of the application of the Scheme within the Scheme Handbooks and the Scheme Rules as requiring clarification. The Joint Advocacy Group is therefore drafting all the necessary amendments and will seek approval by the Legal Services Board, where necessary, with the aim of re-issuing the Scheme Handbook by the end of February 2014.

Further details on the scheme, including how to register can be found here:

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