The Solicitors Regulation Authority has set a deadline of 21 September 2012 for solicitors practising criminal advocacy to notify the regulator that they will be seeking accreditation under the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA).
The SRA said the notification process – subject to approval by the Legal Services Board – would start on 2 July.
It is expected to provide the regulator with data about the number of advocates affected by QASA, ahead of the launch of the live registration and evaluation elements of the scheme in December 2012.
QASA is a joint project between the SRA, the Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards. It was originally billed for launch in April 2012.
The notification procedure will see advocates required to notify their regulators on a web-based form that:
- they intend to join the scheme; and
- to provide an indication as to the level at which they will join the scheme; and
- to indicate the circuit on which they undertake most of their criminal advocacy work.
This data will then be matched with other data held by the regulator, such as higher rights of audience.
Papers for this week’s SRA Board meeting said that from December 2012 onwards advocates practising criminal advocacy would be required to seek their accreditation during a phased launch.
Advocates will register by self-assessing their QASA level, after which they will be given a provisional accreditation.
They will then be required to obtain an assessment of their competence – by judicial evaluation or in some cases by assessment organisation – after which they can apply for full accreditation.
The launch of the scheme will take place in three phases, with advocates working on specified circuits being required to join the scheme during the course of 2013.
“It is expected that by the end of 2013 all advocates who are required to obtain a QASA accreditation will be at least provisionally accredited and many will be fully accredited,” the board papers said.
The three regulators are also to launch a fourth consultation on the final proposals for QASA. The draft consultation will be discussed by the SRA Board on 4 July.