The prospect of barristers boycotting the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates became almost certain on Saturday after all but one of more than 1,000 members of the South Eastern Circuit said they would refuse to sign up to it.
The chairman of the Criminal Bar Association has launched a wide-ranging attack on the government, Stobart Barristers, Bar Standards Board and the “muzzled” judiciary, while warning that plea-only advocates could damage the unity of barristers and solicitors against price competitive tendering.
The row over Legal Services Board-commissioned research that recommended removal of the cab-rank rule stepped up a further notch yesterday after one of the academics who conducted it hit back at the critiques published by the Bar Council and Bar Standards Board.
A last-minute Law Society bid to delay the controversial Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) until after the government’s consultation on price competitive tendering for criminal work was yesterday rejected by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The prospect of barristers striking over the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) has moved closer after two more circuits voted to support it. However, the Bar Standards Board has hit back at claims that QASA is linked to price competitive tendering.
David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers argues: We will never get close to having an “independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession” (which section 1 of the Legal Services Act 2007 sets as a regulatory objective for the regulators) if advocates providing a high-quality service to their clients remain undermined by others who are not even competent. Let’s not fool ourselves: we all know lawyers – including barristers, and including criminal advocates – who are just not up to it (perhaps they never were, perhaps they have lost their touch) at all levels, from magistrates’ court practitioners to QCs.
The prospect of industrial action over the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) moved a major step closer yesterday after barristers on the Northern Circuit overwhelmingly supported a boycott.
Barristers can now speak to the press about their cases, after the Bar’s Code of Conduct was changed. The end to the rule prohibiting barristers from expressing personal opinion publicly in relation to their work finally brings them in line with solicitor-advocates.
The Legal Services Board has criticised the Bar Standards Board’s failure to apply the cab-rank rule to public access work and said this omission will reduce the impact of rule changes that widen the scope for barristers dealing directly with clients.
Criminal barristers are preparing to boycott the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), but only if there is a pledge from counsel outside those circuits affected first not to step in and take the work.