In the Media

Lawyers warn of ?tensions? over re-accreditation plan

PUBLISHED March 20, 2006

Criminal defence solicitors are predicting ?serious tensions? over proposals to force them to go through a re-accreditation process, which they say could leave them out of pocket. 

The Law Society?s regulation board has decided to proceed with plans that will see accredited criminal defence solicitors go through a second quality marking process in a bid to drive up standards.

The board?s chairman, Peter Williamson, said: ?Following last year?s consultation with the profession and other stakeholders, the regulation board will decide shortly on the timetable for re-accreditation and the way it should be carried out.?

But Rodney Warren, director of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, said it doubted that the Legal Services Commission would be willing to pay for solicitors to jump through more hoops.

?This is likely to guarantee the development of serious tensions between those trying to proceed with the scheme at this stage and those [firms] being made to pay,? he warned. ?Everyone accepts that a high-quality service is essential, but I?m not aware of any suggestion that there are concerns about the quality of criminal law solicitors? work sufficient to require re-accreditation.?

Mr Warren added: ?The issue of quality is high on the agenda following the Carter review, and peer review and re-accreditation should be examined in the context of all the other proposed changes.?

A Law Society spokeswoman said the policy of re-accreditation had been no secret. ?The Carter report is saying that it is up to regulatory bodies to sort things out, and this has given us the impetus to get on with it.?

The commission said any funding decisions would depend on Lord Carter?s final report.