The “grandiloquent, rhetorical and at times almost facetious” advocacy style of a criminal defence barrister has no place in modern trials, the Court of Appeal has said. It found the barrister “certainly appears to take a considerable degree of satisfaction in having a style all of his own”.
Many judges are not “advocacy trainers” and may produce “subjective” evaluations under the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates scheme, solicitor-advocates have warned. The Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates said there was a danger that some judges would assess on the basis of how they would have done it.
Judges should be able to opt out of assessing advocates under the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates if they believe it would be unfair, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has said. Despite a Supreme Court ruling in its favour last year, QASA is still to get off the ground.
The Legal Services Board has joined solicitors in questioning government plans to introduce additional regulation of criminal advocacy. The Bar Council supported the proposals by the Ministry of Justice.
The Bar Standards Board has accepted in principle all the recommendations of a hard-hitting report which found “highly variable” standards of advocacy in the youth courts. Only 52% of advocates thought they had sufficient knowledge of the youth justice system to do their job properly.
The present model for delivering justice in the criminal, family and immigration courts has become “increasingly challenged” and “many parts of the Bar are in severe pain”, the chair of the Bar Standards Board has said. Sir Andrew Burns said he wanted the BSB to become much more of a risk-based regulator.
The needs of employed barristers should not be ignored and “second class citizenship” should “by now be a myth”, a former Crown prosecutor has said. Karen Squibb-Williams argued that specialist training should be introduced for employed barristers, including “persuasive advocacy” which could be used in the boardroom as much as the court.
A report for the Bar Council on the future of criminal justice and advocacy has recommended that legal executives are kept out of the Crown Courts, while solicitors should only be granted rights of audience if they have undergone the same level of training as barristers.
QC status should be available to all advocates appearing in the higher courts, whether or not they are barristers or solicitors, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has said. It also reiterated its call for re-accreditation and ongoing competence checks for those with the mark.
Justice secretary Chris Grayling has promised criminal law barristers that the government will “take measures” to strengthen the Legal Aid Agency’s ban on solicitors demanding referral fees.