BSB aims to take new approach to quality assurance

Following a review, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has decided not to implement the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), but continues to commit to assuring the quality of all aspects of barristers’ services.

QASA was a joint scheme developed by the BSB, the SRA and CILEx. Although the scheme was approved in 2013, it has been on hold ever since, due first to judicial review proceedings and second a decision by the Ministry of Justice on the introduction of a publicly funded defence panel scheme.

The BSB has over recent years decided to take a new approach, which it feels is inconsistent with QASA. Rather, it is encouraging barristers to “take greater responsibility for their own learning and development by removing prescriptive regulation and creating flexibility as to how competence should be maintained”.

Sir Andrew Burns, BSB chair, said: “Regulators must be responsive to changes in regulatory practice and be prepared to amend their approach if aims can be achieved in different and better ways. QASA was developed over a number of years and was approved four years ago. In the intervening period, the BSB has substantially changed its approach to regulation both as it has developed as a regulator but also in response to changes in the provision of legal services. The board now believes that QASA no longer fits within the BSB’s regulatory approach. We have therefore decided, after much careful deliberation, that it should not be implemented. This in no way should be seen as a reduction in the BSB’s commitment to ensure that the public has access to good quality barristers. It is rather a reflection of our willingness to adapt and change our regulatory approach so as best to deliver our strategic objectives.”

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