Lord Justice Thomas

27 January 2010

Lord Justice Thomas to lead expert advisory group on quality assurance for advocates

The Joint Advocacy Group (JAG), set up by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) to devise a scheme for the quality assurance of advocates, has established an independent expert advisory group to be chaired by Lord Justice Thomas.

The Advisory Group will provide a forum for key parties, including the legal profession, the judiciary and lay members representing the consumer interest, to provide advice to the regulators on the principal elements of the scheme and to ensure that the scheme is practicable and proportionate.

The expert Group will assist JAG with the initial development of the quality assurance process and, following its introduction, assess the operation of the scheme itself.

Commenting, Lord Justice Thomas said: “ This step, taken by the regulators, should ensure engagement with interested parties and allow external scrutiny of the process. I look forward to working with all those involved to assist with the development of a robust and proportionate quality assurance scheme for advocates.”

The Advisory Group comprises:

  • an ILEX advocacy practitioner
  • a practising higher rights solicitor advocate
  • a practising barrister
  • a circuit judge
  • three lay members to represent the consumer interest
  • a representative from each of the BSB, SRA and IPS
  • a representative from the CPS

Its functions will be:

  • To consider and advise JAG on the policy and practical issues which arise in the development and establishment and ongoing delivery of the QAA scheme
  • To advise JAG on the development of the central management of the assessment of advocacy process
  • To provide advice and assistance to JAG once the Quality Assurance for Advocates (QAA) scheme is operational
  • To consider and advise on the continued engagement with the scheme by the judiciary, the professions and other interested parties
  • To undertake an external audit and review role on the operation of the scheme and to report annually (and at other times where necessary) to the principal regulators of advocacy on the effectiveness of the scheme

A spokesperson for JAG said: “The establishment of the Advisory Group represents a significant move towards the effective delivery of a QAA scheme by July 2011. We are extremely fortunate that Lord Justice Thomas has agreed to be the first Chair of the Group and look forward to working with him and the other members of the Group over the coming months.

“There are a number of important issues that need to be addressed by JAG before July and the expert input of the Advisory Group will be invaluable. Their role in providing external scrutiny of the operational scheme will also be critical to ensuring that our processes have credibility and rigour.”