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By Oliver Hanmer
“It is a critical test of the freedom inherent in our democratic society that those accused (usually by the State) of committing criminal offences can and should be represented by capable criminal advocates…”
So opens the judgment, which was handed down last month by Lord Justice Leveson, in the judicial review of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA). QASA, it ruled, “is lawful, does not contravene European law and falls well within the legitimate exercise of the powers of the LSB and the three regulators that submitted it to the LSB for approval”.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) – an interested party in the proceedings – welcomed the outcome, but we know that some members of the profession will have been disappointed. Nevertheless, we hope that advocates will respect the Court’s decision and, now that QASA is here and deemed lawful, we will do our best to support them through the registration and accreditation process.
We are well aware of the pressures that many publicly funded criminal advocates are experiencing right now in the current financial climate. We have voiced our opinion of the impact of government’s legal aid reforms from a regulatory perspective. But our duty is to protect the public – not to serve the interests of the Bar.
This duty is
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Oliver Hanmer is the Head of Supervision at the Bar Standards Board.
He has a broad remit across all of the Board’s quality assurance
activities ranging from CPD compliance to risk-based supervision of
Chambers. He has been involved with QASA for the last four years and is
the BSB staff lead on the Joint Advocacy Group, which was established to
develop the policy in relation to the Scheme.
0330 161 1234