While the fourth consultation paper has included some of the constructive criticism advanced in response to the last consultation in November 2011, the LCCSA nonetheless retains strong reservations over some aspects of the proposed scheme.
The LCCSA accepts in principle the concept of quality assurance in the delivery of criminal advocacy. We remain unconvinced though of the necessity of such a scheme in view of the lack of hard evidence to suggest there are significant deficiencies in the standards of criminal advocacy. Any deficiencies which may exist are amply addressed by reference to the Codes of Practice for each branch of the profession.
Our view is that the overall scheme remains ?bar centric? particularly with regard to judicial evaluation (JE) being the only avenue available to obtain accreditation as a trial advocate. Anecdotal evidence indicates many in the judiciary also have reservations and as yet are not inclined to participate in judicial evaluation.
A key impact of QASA will be the accreditation of all solicitors practicing in the magistrates? courts thereby removing a basic entitlement which is currently enjoyed by all those entering the profession. Cost is another concern at a time when most criminal practices and practitioners are struggling to survive. Very little information has been provided as to the cost of accreditation which we are concerned may be prohibitive.