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.
A new Criminal Bar Association campaign to ensure that barristers and higher court advocates compete on a “level playing-field” does not amount to a “cry for war”, its chairman has said.
The Bar Council has called for strict new rules to check that criminal law solicitors are acting properly when they guide clients to in-house advocates as opposed to external counsel.
An increasing tendency among solicitors to pay referral fees to each other and to use solicitor-advocates is diverting work away from junior barristers, ultimately threatening the quality of the judiciary, according to the Bar Council.
The number of in-house lawyers has not been affected by the economic crisis and alternative business structures (ABSs) offer general counsel an opportunity to expand their services, according to the Law Society.
Law Society chief executive Des Hudson has responded to calls for all advocates – including solicitors – to be regulated by the Bar Standards Board by saying: “Are they having a laugh?” And SAHCA chief says QASA and ABSs give solicitor-advocates a “golden opportunity” to compete with barristers.
The new Lord Chancellor has said he is “sympathetic” with the notion that the legal profession is over-regulated, the chairman of the Bar Council has claimed as he stepped up his call for the Legal Services Board to be scrapped.
The chairman of the Bar Council has called for a last stand against several “objectionable” elements of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates or else they will form part of similar schemes planned for all areas of legal practice.
A final consultation on the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates has been amended at the last minute to take into account objections raised by the board of the Bar Standards Board.
The recent debate on the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) plans to regulate advocacy-focused business structures – entities – pitted Bar Council old-timers against BSB modernists, and it was the latter who came out on top. The motion was bland enough but it soon became clear that what its proposers actually meant by this was “entities will open the door to solicitors flooding (and eventually taking over) the Bar’s institutions and that by inviting solicitor-advocates into its regulatory ‘tent’, the BSB will weaken the distinctiveness of the barristers’ offering”.