SAHCA launches QAA consultation
Solicitor advocates have launched an unprecedented consultation exercise to make sure their response to the LSC discussion paper on QAA is representative of the views of its national membership. During the course of the last few days all SAHCA's 1250 members have been contacted and asked to consider a draft response which sets out a proposed set of guiding principles for SAHCA's negotiators.
QAA "COULD BE MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN WIGS"
This is the widest consultation in the sixteen year history of SAHCA, founded in 1994 when the first solicitor advocates were admitted to higher court practice. "We did not do this on wigs - but QAA has the potential to be more significant in the long run", says Jo Cooper, SAHCA Chair.
He adds "It is important that any QAA scheme develops fairly and proportionately and takes into account our members views. It is helpful to the architects of this process that SAHCA is a full partner, and that we are clear at the outset about our commitment to quality. However we also need to be clear about the red lines around the scheme and our draft paper asks our members to consider the detail of what those should be.
"BASED ON EVIDENCE"
"The draft in circulation reflects our concerns that the QAA process needs to be firmly based on evidence. There has been a lot of anecdote and little firm evidence in the debate so far. Experience over the last year tells us that this is when the quality agenda can be used as a political football.
"Our members are also concerned overwhelmingly about proportionality - making sure any scheme is only as unwieldy, time consuming and expensive as is really necessary. As a profession, and especially as higher court advocates, we are already heavily and effectively regulated. A further layer of accreditation inevitably adds to the burden on all competent advocates. We want to listen to what our members feel about where the balance should be struck."
The consultation process will end on 25th May 2010 and SAHCA will deliver its response to the LSC on 28th May 2010.