Assume the worst. Obduracy reigns and QASA cannot be altered. Not my position – I hope yet for democratic change – but it must be faced. It’s chief fault is the very low standard it would set for a quality profession which prides itself on its very high standards.
Very well. We should consider an IMMEDIATE coincidental high quality internal appraisal scheme to run alongside the hated QASA. Call it an Advocacy Barmark.
I leave the details for others to improve, but it could well be circuit led, overseeing individual chambers with overarching Bar Council supervision. It would amount to a yearly or two yearly review with emphasis on advocacy training before ultimate sanctions. Then we could say to the world: this is what we are – a profession with far higher standards than the official Law regulator seeks to impose.
The next objection is Plea only advocates. That is a concept which I find absurd when you think how tactically complex a plea may be and how damaging a plea in aggravation sounds. And we know why it on the table – it would aid ultimate BVT. However such a concept is already
in being and plainly if we are going to bite the bullet of QASA as currently drafted, we could not then opposes the regulation of those so practising.
But the real fear of the bar is that the present recent exclusion of the Crown Courts from BVT is merely a prelude to its later introduction, a fig leaf as a friend calls it. Now no one can rule that out, although I would like our leaders to press the LC hard to give a commitment in time if not in principle.
I would ask simply whether that distinct possibility, putting it no higher, is really a sufficient basis to decide not to cooperate at all with QASA? Put rhetorically as they say, does the bar need to die in a ditch at this moment in time? I think not.
Finally mediation, which I accept is a somewhat off the wall idea. But think long term. If we had in place a really respected legal figure with a brief to press the regulators both now and in the future, we could find elements of our own proposed assurance scheme making its way into a higher code for the public. In that process, our public stock would rise and not fall. But all- out opposition now would fail the Humpheys, Paxman Mair testing, although I would dearly like our best to be heard.
Nigel Pascoe QC