The Bar Standards Board has never been so popular. Its decision to abandon the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates received an enthusiastic welcome from the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates and the Criminal Bar Association – and all in time for Christmas.

A light dusting of snow, carols and some mulled wine would complete this outbreak of conviviality. 

Yet, at this time of the year, there is always the uncle no one really wants to sit next to – the slightly awkward one who makes it all about him. It is a role in this case taken up with alacrity by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. 

‘We are undertaking an additional programme of work to explore how best to ensure high standards of advocacy, and plan to publish a position paper in spring,’ said CEO Paul Philip.

This raises the prospect that the concept could somehow be revived. Could solicitor-advocates be subject to a de facto system of (formal or informal) quality control that would not apply to the bar? How would that work?

Turning trials into beauty contests was never a good idea. The solicitors regulator needs to think very carefully about how it should add to the profession’s compliance burden here.