High Court gives green light to QASA judicial review


Hearing: will be before Christmas

Criminal barristers were yesterday given permission to pursue their judicial review against the Legal Services Board over the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA).

The legal challenge is that QASA “offends fundamental issues of justice”.

The date for the full hearing has not yet been set but it will take place before 17 December as the aim is to have the case concluded before the closing date for the first tranche of QASA registration next spring.

The court has still to decide whether to grant a protective costs order to the claimants.

Global law firm Baker McKenzie and eminent public law counsel Dinah Rose QC and Tom De La Mare QC are acting pro bono in the proceedings, which are backed by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA).

The regulators behind QASA – the Bar Standards Board, Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards – are interested parties in the action.

The Legal Services Board said it had nothing to add to the statement issued at the time proceedings were issued: “[The] LSB will respond to [the] JR in line with established procedures and will make every effort to limit the cost exposure of the legal profession to this action on behalf of the criminal bar.”

CBA chairman Nigel Lithman QC said at that time: “QASA offends fundamental issues of justice. For instance the idea an advocate can act fearlessly with one eye on his client and the other on the judge is an ugly notion.

“With our regulators unprepared to listen to us, this is where we have ended up.”

Registration for the first phase of QASA has now opened. Recently Legal Futures reported that several barristers had resigned from the Bar Standards Board’s prosecutors panel in protest at QASA.

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