10 June 2013

Bar Standards Board extends first registration phase for QASA

The Bar Standards Board will extend the first QASA registration period to ensure that the Criminal Bar will have more time to consider the consequences of government changes to legal aid before registering. The end of the first registration period will now be 7 March 2014, which will be after the Ministry of Justice publishes its final response to the consultation, 'Transforming legal aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system'.

Bar Standards Board Chair, Baroness Ruth Deech explained: "The Criminal Bar is facing unprecedented change and understandably its current focus is on responding to the legal aid consultation to ensure proposals do not impede access to justice. Likewise, the BSB is also drafting a robust response which will focus on the impact of proposed changes on the public interest.

"However the Ministry of Justice is scheduled to publish their final plans for legal aid during the first QASA registration period, and whilst QASA is a guardian of competence, not a pricing system, and sits separately from government plans, we recognise that the Bar will need time to reflect once the final legal aid plans have been announced. Extending the QASA registration period therefore provides extra time for barristers in the Midlands and Western Circuits to consider the full impact of any changes. 

In addition to QASA, the Bar Standards Board is working to help barristers adapt their business models (through, for example, direct access and alternative business structures) so they can continue to provide excellent advocacy if the Government does choose to procure services in the new way."



Notes to editors 

QASA is a joint scheme being developed by the BSB, the SRA and ILEX Professional Standards. The Scheme will regulate the quality of all advocates appearing in the criminal courts in England and Wales, whether they are barristers, solicitors, or legal executives. The Scheme will apply to all advocates, both if they are employed or self-employed, and whether they are acting for the prosecution or defence.

Final changes to the design of the Scheme were approved yesterday on 24 April 2013 in separate meetings by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the BSB.

The QASA Handbook will be launched in Summer 2013. For more information, FAQs, etc., see here.

The Bar Standards Board is made up of 15 people, a combination of lay people and barristers. It has a lay majority. For more information on Board meetings and members, click here.

The Bar Standards Board regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales in the public interest. It is responsible for:
• Setting the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister
• Setting continuing training requirements to ensure that barristers' skills are maintained throughout their careers
• Setting standards of conduct for barristers
• Monitoring the service provided by barristers to assure quality, and handling complaints against barristers and taking disciplinary or other action where appropriate

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 02076111392.