Introduction of the controversial quality assurance scheme for advocates (QASA) has been delayed by nine months, the joint advocacy group (JAG) responsible for the scheme admitted today.
Under the revised implementation timetable, published by the three legal regulators charged with designing QASA, a handbook on the scheme's details will be published on 17 June, and phased accreditation will begin on 30 September.
Accreditation will commence on a circuit-by-circuit basis:
Phase 1 - 30 September to 10 January, Midlands and Western Circuits
Phase 2 - 10 March to 13 June 2014, South Eastern Circuit
Phase 3 - 30 June 2014 to 3 October, North East, Northern and Wales & Chester
The JAG said that the phase during which an advocate should seek accreditation will be determined by the principal circuit covering the region where they practice.
The scheme was due to begin this month, but the JAG announced that it would be delayed to allow adjustments to be made to details following a fourth consultation.
A statement from the three regulators, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards, said: 'When developing the timetable, JAG has had regard to the need to ensure that there is adequate time for communication with the profession on the detail of the scheme and what will be expected of advocates who come within it.
'Prior to implementation, the elements of the scheme that required further consideration in the light of responses to the fourth consultation will have been resolved and the scheme approved by each regulator as well as the Legal Services Board (LSB).'
The JAG said it expects to make a submission to the LSB on the final scheme at the beginning of May.