29 Mar, 2012

QASA proposals, “step in the right direction”


The Law Society has described the regulators* decision to take on board its concerns about the effect that the Quality Assurance for Advocates Scheme [QASA] would have on solicitor advocates as a major step in the right direction.


The Society’s concern was that the original proposal was disproportionate and would mean that many competent solicitor advocates would not be able to continue to provide the advocacy services that were needed by their clients. Solicitor advocates rarely do full trials but nevertheless provide important representation for clients in other hearings. 


The Society will now need to consider the detail of the proposal when the consultation paper is issued however the proposals are a positive step forward.


Law Society Chief Executive, Desmond Hudson (pictured) said, “We have had the opportunity to consider further the statements from the regulators about the proposals for the Quality Assurance for Advocates Scheme [QASA] and have had some initial discussions with the SRA. We support a proportionate scheme for assessing competence in advocacy.”


“We are pleased that the regulators have taken on board the Society’s concerns about the effect that the scheme would have on competent solicitor advocates. “


“We are also pleased that, at least for these advocates, there will be no requirement for judicial assessment.  However, the Society reiterates its concerns that the requirement for all trial advocates to have judicial assessments is misconceived.  Judges exist to judge on the facts of the case, not the competence of the advocates in front of them and we are concerned that, for the advocates, there will be a conflict between their interests in receiving a good mark from a judge and their clients’ interests in being fearlessly represented – which can involve behaving robustly if a judge makes an error.  In addition, there are unlikely to be sufficient trials for this to be a practical way forward. We urge the regulators to take the opportunity to re-think this.


“We are disturbed that there appears to be a discrepancy between the information that appears on the BSB’s website and the understanding of the SRA of the agreement.  In particular, we understand that non-trial advocates will be accredited for the full five year period rather than the two years which the BSB’s announcement appears to imply and that there will be no separate category of “non trial advocate” since all advocates will be eligible to undertake level 2 work and will need to gain judicial assessment if they undertake full trials.  We believe that it is important that all of this should be clarified publicly at the earliest possible stage. We will study the consultation closely and liaise closely with the SRA.”

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