21 August 2013

QASA Handbook and podcast launched

The essential guide to the QASA process has been launched by the Bar Standards Board today.

The QASA Handbook sets out everything advocates need to know about QASA - from information on how to register for the Scheme, to the criteria that will be used to verify an advocate's level of competence. Advocates can use the Handbook to work out the QASA level at which they should register.

Director of the Bar Standards Board, Dr Vanessa Davies said: "The QASA process has been designed to be as straightforward as possible. It takes about ten minutes to register and the two year evaluation period takes place during a barrister's normal working routine. Judges have been trained to ensure that they only mark advocates against the QASA competencies and so barristers can be confident of a fair evaluation, which will have no bearing on the outcome of the trial.

"QASA exists to protect the public from those advocates who are not as good as they should be. The majority of barristers will complete the process without any difficulty, but it's right we act to stop those who fall short."

QASA is on course to start its first 'phase' on 30 September this year. Anyone undertaking advocacy in the criminal courts in England and Wales will need to register for the Scheme and do so in phases according to the Circuit in which they primarily practise.

The windows for registration are

  • 30 September 2013 - 7 March 2014: Midland and Western Circuits (Phase One);
  • 10 March 2014 - 13 June 2014: South Eastern Circuit (Phase Two);
  • 30 June 2014 - 3 October 2014: North Eastern, Northern, and Wales and Chester Circuits (Phase Three);

Any barrister needing assistance while registering can ring a dedicated helpline (0207 611 1479) or find out more online at /qasa. The BSB will be hosting a series of drop-in sessions where advocates can book a slot to ask any questions about the QASA process. Book your slot here.

To help advocates get to grips with the new Scheme, the BSB has also produced a 'CPDcast' - a podcast which, when listened to, earns the listener CPD points - as well as a forthcoming webinar scheduled from 6pm to 7pm on 1 October 2013. To register, click here.

Once the window for registration in their Circuit opens, advocates can register online via Barrister Connect at: https://www.barristerconnect.org.uk/login/. They will then be required to self-assess their own level of competence - against the QASA levels table, set out in the Handbook - and complete a series of questions. A step-by-step guide on how to register for the Scheme will available from the BSB website shortly. 

The Handbook has been developed by the members of the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG), comprised of the BSB, the Solicitors Regulations Authority and ILEX Professional Standards. Together, the group have been working on QASA since 2009 and, since then, there have been four formal consultations on the Scheme in order to improve its design.

For more information about the Handbook and QASA, visit: /qasa

The Legal Services Board previously issued an extension notice to allow further time to consider the application by the JAG for approval of the Scheme. This meant that the publication of the Scheme Handbook on 17 June had to be delayed.


Notes to editors 

The helpline is open 9:30am - 5pm Monday to Friday and will be open on Thursdays from 5 -7pm at a later date.

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 0207 611 1452.