I must agree with David Kirwan’s comments regarding the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates.
Having retired in 2002 from a judicial post, I went into the voluntary sector and maintained my practising certificate in order to be of use to clients of my local Citizens Advice bureau who needed assistance in court; particularly those not eligible for legal aid, or those who could not afford to fund a not-guilty motoring trial but who drove for a living. I was horrified to find that quality assurance was now to be introduced throughout the profession and that, if I failed to co-operate, my right of audience in the magistrates’ court was to be taken away from me.
No one can disagree with the proposition that good-quality advocacy is essential. But I am at a loss to understand how it can be that 36 years of appearing in a variety of magistrates’ courts – without a single complaint from anyone, ever – can count for nothing.
I had the same experience with the General Medical Council’s reappointment system. I used to sit on conduct committees and had done so for five years, with regular feedback to the GMC from every chairman I sat with, on every case I had sat on. Yet that five years’ experience was to count for nothing when the time came for reappointment. I would have nothing to do with their reappointment system and I will have nothing to do with this QASA scheme. After 36 years I shall not renew my PC and instead say goodbye to the profession.
Fran Bremner, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire