The controversial new quality assurance scheme for advocates has been approved by the Legal Services Board as a result of ‘real risk’ over advocacy skills. The super-regulator cleared a joint application by the Bar Standards Board, Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards to ‘alter their regulatory arrangements’ to allow the introduction of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates.
QASA has been attacked as ‘a trojan horse’ allowing the introduction of price competitive tendering.
‘QASA has united all sides of the criminal professions in opposition. The only thing people don’t agree on is how to pronounce it (I say Kwa-za). There is a reason why everyone is opposed – it’s a con. And the people that suffer will be, as with most changes in the legal world at the moment, is the people that can’t afford to buy justice.’
Dan Bunting, HERE
- You can read the LSB’s decision notice HERE.
In the LSB’s decision notice, the regulator notes that concerns have been expressed ‘over a long period of time’ about standards of criminal advocacy. It said: ‘For example, following the publication of the Carter Report in 2006 there appeared to be a consensus that quality assurance of advocacy is important. There is a range of evidence that points towards a risk and in some places a pattern of advocacy not being at the required standard. These include some senior judicial comment…’
The Board flagged up a pilot of a quality assurance scheme for criminal advocates by Cardiff University which found that ‘a significant proportion of advocates failed at least one part of the assessment’.
The LSB concluded that, whilst ‘no single piece of evidence of systemically poor standards’ would ‘suffice on its own to justify the scheme’, there was ‘sufficient consistency of evidence and concern to warrant a scheme’.
‘This is because the concerns and limited evidence suggest a real risk, and a pattern, of actual problems in standards across a wide range of criminal advocates and almost nothing by way of evidence that quality is consistent good enough.’
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