The Law Society has postponed plans to reaccredit criminal solicitors every five years, following consultation with the profession.
The Society consulted in April on a proposal that members of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS) should undergo a regulatory check every five years, confirming that they had completed the requisite six hours of CPD and paying a fee of £240.
But Chancery Lane revealed today that it had decided to postpone implementation of the proposal. It said that CLAS members who have held membership for over five years, and who would be due to reaccredit, will have their membership extended until 30 June 2013.
It said that scheme members do not need to take any action in respect of their extension as membership records will be updated accordingly.
A Law Society spokesperson said: ‘The Society has decided to postpone compulsory reaccreditation for the CLAS in light of our members’ comments and to ensure that we take properly into account initiatives such as the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA). We doubt that QASA will make CLAS redundant because QASA will only cover advocacy while the CLAS covers other areas of criminal litigation. It is, however, important to understand how the two interact.’
Criminal litigation accreditation covers all types of criminal law work. Members have to show, to the satisfaction of the Law Society and through external examination that they have and will maintain a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice in criminal litigation.
The scheme is designed to enable solicitors and fellows of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to qualify to apply for inclusion on local duty solicitor rotas under the Legal Services Commission's criminal defence service duty solicitor arrangements 2001.
At present no reaccreditation is necessary. However, when the Society consulted on the proposed change, then president John Wotton said that ‘a scheme that is meant to be an indicator of quality cannot be credible in the modern world if those who are accredited are not reassessed regularly to ensure that they remain competent and up to date’.
Wotton said that the planned ‘robust but not all-consuming’ scheme must be balanced with the need to avoid unnecessary burdens on practitioners.
He added: ‘The aim of this is not to create an obstacle to members but to help them bolster their credentials in the eyes of the courts and the public.’