The SRA has published information on the imminent lauch of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates:

QASA is coming…

QASA will be launched at the turn of the year. We will use this site to communicate information and regular updates on the development of QASA to consumers of legal services and our regulated community. As we move closer to the launch date, we will add more detail and resources to help increase your understanding of QASA and help you successfully navigate and meet the scheme’s requirements.

What is QASA?

QASA is a joint scheme currently being developed by the SRA, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards. Representatives from each organisation form the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG). JAG is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of QASA. The scheme, the first of its kind, will systematically assess and assure the quality of all criminal advocates appearing in courts in England and Wales. It has been devised to respond to concerns about the standards of advocacy in criminal courts and will ensure that in future, the performance of all advocates are measured against the same set of standards, regardless of the advocate’s previous education and training. Once the scheme is formally launched, any advocate wishing to undertake criminal advocacy will require QASA accreditation.

What are the benefits of QASA?

QASA is designed to ensure that those involved in the litigation process have confidence in the standard of advocacy and advocates. QASA will ensure that all advocates in criminal courts only deal with cases within their competence. This approach reflects the SRA’s commitment to protecting the public interest.

JAG has also ensured that the scheme is consistent with Regulatory Objectives set out in the Legal Services Act 2007. You can download an overview of these objectives (PDF 14 pages, 130K).

How will QASA work?

Using a process of accreditation and performance review, the scheme gives advocates the opportunity to demonstrate their competence against a set of agreed minimum standards in all aspects of criminal advocacy work. Advocates will be assessed against common standards, irrespective of their previous education, training and professional qualification(s). The standards will apply to four levels and advocates may progress through the levels by demonstrating, through formal assessment, their competence to do so. Advocates who choose to maintain their accreditation at one level will be required to reaccredit once every five years.

Key dates you need to be aware of

JAG is in the process of developing QASA. However, there are some key dates where you can engage or will be required to interact with the scheme.

Consultation

From July 2012 until October 2012, JAG will undertake a fourth consultation. The consultation will cover the final proposals of the scheme, provisional handbook and draft QASA regulations. If you are an individual solicitor, firm or representative body, we would like to hear your views.

Details of the consultation, including how to respond, will be available on this website from 5 July 2012.

Notification

Notification is the process by which all solicitors and registered European lawyers are required to inform the SRA whether or not they intend to enter the scheme and seek QASA accreditation once it is formally launched. We will be using the information provided through the notification process to continue planning and development of the scheme.

The notification window will be open from 2 July 2012 until 21 September 2012. We will be contacting all solicitors and registered European lawyers with details and guidance on completing this process in the next four to six weeks.

Scheme launch

The scheme will be launched at the turn of the year. All advocates wishing to practise criminal advocacy will be required to register and then be assessed to obtain full accreditation within the scheme. Launch details will be available in late 2012

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