Bar Standards Board to “research need for accreditation schemes”

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4 August 2014

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BSB: Ensuring public is protected driving need for quality assurance

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has promised to research “the need for other quality assurance schemes and/or accreditation schemes” so the public can have confidence in barristers.

The Law Society has well-known accreditation schemes for conveyancing and probate, while the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), is currently the subject of a judicial review.

In a statement to Legal Futures, a spokesperson for the BSB suggested Youth Courts advocacy could be top of the list for new accreditation schemes.

He said that earlier this year the BSB announced that it would be exploring how to ensure that advocates working with young people had the necessary skills and experience to enable them to undertake work to “excellent standards”.

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“We have already met with the National Children’s Bureau to discuss how best to progress this further,” he said.

“The needs of young people are often complex and challenging, but that should not affect their rights to access justice.

“As a regulator, we are duty bound to uphold the regulatory objectives, set out in the Legal Services Act 2007. Our job is, as it has ever been, to ensure proper protection of the public and it is this that drives the need for quality assurance.”

Developing quality assurance schemes is one of the commitments for the period up to 2016 the BSB made in its latest annual report.

Another long-term objective for the BSB, referred to in the report, is introducing a solicitor-style Practicing Certificate Fee (PCF).

“We have been working with the Bar Council on a more strategic approach to revenue raising,” the report said.

“Over time we expect to see a PCF based on both an individual and a chambers or entity-based contribution, better reflecting our evolving approach to regulation.”

The BSB said one of the goals for the period up to 2016 was to “steady the rate of increase in the cost of regulation”, which reached £5.9m in the last financial year.

The annual report showed that the BSB’s professional conduct department opened or received 408 complaints files in 2013-14, compared to 491 the previous year.

The number of cases referred for disciplinary action fell by almost 50%, from 116 to 64. However, the number of barristers disbarred by the Disciplinary Tribunal during the course of the year rose from 11 to 19.


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