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Regulators agree on QASA

23 March 2012

After months of wrangling, the SRA, BSB and ILEX Professional Standards have agreed on a quality assessment scheme for criminal advocates (QASA).

A spokesman for the SRA said live evaluation by judges for all advocates who undertake Crown Court trials would be a central part of the scheme. It is understood that those who work at magistrates’ courts will be monitored by assessment centres.

The spokesman said the scheme would begin this summer, with advocates notifying their regulators that they were seeking accreditation through QASA.

He said a “final consultation” on the scheme would also be issued, but did not give a date.

“Judicial evaluation will be phased in from late 2012 and will be available on all circuits by late summer 2013,” he said.

The spokesman added that there would be monitoring, evaluation and data-gathering on all aspects of the scheme for two years from implementation. After this, the scheme would be reviewed and amended, if necessary.

Antony Townsend, chief executive of the SRA, said QASA was “a vital step to ensure that all those who are reliant upon advocacy services are able to access competent advocates to undertake their work.”

BSB director Vanessa Davies said “one scheme for all advocates” had been the regulator’s aim throughout the development of QASA, because that is what best served the public interest.

“I am very pleased that we have now reached agreement on the final aspects of the scheme and look forward to continuing to work with the other regulators to ensure its effective implementation.”

Ian Watson, chief executive of IPS, said it was “time to move to the practicalities of implementation”.

He went on: “The commitment to further research and evidence gathering during the start-up phase of the scheme is vital if an effective and stable quality assurance scheme is to be established in this essential area of legal work.”

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