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LSB legal director warned over QASA threat to judges

Solicitor 'dissented' from LSB executive recommendation in favour of scheme

26 September 2013

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Nick Glockling, legal director of the Legal Services Board and a solicitor, disagreed with a recommendation of the LSB executive that the quality assurance scheme for advocates should be approved because he was concerned about the threat to judicial independence, it has emerged.

The revelation is significant because many solicitor advocates are opposed to QASA, partly because they do not believe it is the role of judges to assess advocates in the way the scheme requires.

QASA will open for registration on Monday next week, but the Criminal Bar Association and the Midlands and Western circuits, the first to be involved, have voted for a boycott.

Glockling, like other directors at the LSB, is a member of the executive but not the board.

According to recently published board minutes, the executive's recommendation to approve the scheme, with Glockling dissenting, had been "informed by internal and external" legal advice.

The minutes record that the legal director advised that the board of the LSB should issue a 'warning notice' under the Legal Services Act, which it does when it needs more information about an issue.

Glockling also advised that the board should consider refusing the application for approval.

"When pressed by the board as to what further advice would assist the board in its decision, the legal director advised seeking the views of the judiciary as to whether it could manage the risk to judicial independence from judicial evaluation," the minutes record.

The board accepted that any legal challenge to QASA, a reference to a judicial review launched by the CBA, could delay its implementation.

However, the board decided that the decision on whether to approve was within its discretion under the Legal Services Act and "there was no indication that further information received at this stage would be any more helpful."

The board went on to approve the scheme.

A spokesman for the LSB said Glockling recommended that the board should consider in more detail the impact on judicial independence before making its decision.

He said 'warning notices' had been issued before where the board needed more information before making a decision.

"The board agreed with the executive that enough information was already available," he added.

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