Despite the Law Society?s newly independent Regulation Board decision to push towards a ?re-accreditation? process for existing members of the voluntary CLAS scheme, the LSC (who currently pay much of the accreditation training costs of solicitors and their police station representatives) has shown no sign of a move away from its more sophisticated process of peer review as a continuing assessment and has has indicated that it is not likely to favour wholesale reaccreditation at this time. The LSC do still believe however that the accreditation system has an important role.
This means that unless the LSC decides that it wishes to see re-accreditation as well as peer review, duty solicitors will not have to undertake Law Society CLSA re-accreditation unless they want to do so.
Rodney Warren, CLSA Director, and Chair of the Law Society?s Representation Board, said:
?This clarification will be good news to criminal law practitioners. There has been a degree of confusion around the mention of re-accreditation. In this instance, the LSC has a quasi regulatory role as it controls with whom it contracts. It has signalled clearly that whilst accreditation is an important test of competence it believes peer review to offer an opportunity for ensuring high quality advice for all clients from solicitors and their colleagues in legal aid law firms.
?In reaching its decision, the Regulation Board relied, in part, upon some important research undertaken nearly ten years ago and which underpinned the initial development of CLAS. That research is now accepted as out of date?.
?Meanwhile, the CLSA will support any solicitors who may wish to undertake CLAS re-accreditation on a voluntary basis as further evidence of their expertise and dedication as legal aid lawyers?.
Kevin Martin, Law Society President, said:
?The Law Society acknowledges fully the need for high quality standards amongst legal aid practitioners. The re-accreditation scheme recently proposed by the Regulation Board will afford criminal legal aid practitioners an additional means to demonstrate the quality of their advice. However, in light of the LSC's preferred supplier programme which will subject all legal aid practitioners to peer review over the next two years, the Society is pleased that remaining on the CLAS scheme will be voluntary. Notwithstanding, the Society believes that many practitioners will choose to be re-accredited under the scheme.