Criminal Reaccreditation Plan Deferred

It was recently announced that the Law society place criminal reaccreditation plan on hold for now. The scheme regards reaccreditation of criminal solicitors every five years after a consultation with the profession has been conducted.

After a consultation in April, the Society has made a plan proposing that all members of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS) will be expected to undergo a check every five years. This is said to confirm that all them have taken and completed the required six hours of the CDP and have paid the £240 fee as stated. However, Chancery Lane has announced that the deadline for the implementation of the plan is postponed. It also stated that those CLAS members, who have a membership for over a five-year period and who are due to reaccredit, will get their membership with an extended deadline until 30 June 2013. It further announced that members do not have to do anything in order to get their membership extension, because this will be done automatically and all membership records will be updated respectively.

A spokesperson from the Law Society explained that the Society has decided to postpone the compulsory reaccreditation scheme for the CLAS with regard to comments from members. The plan will be put on hold in order for the Society to insure that proper account is taken on initiatives such as the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA). It is highly unlikely that the QASA will replace CLAS. QASA is said to cover only advocacy while CLAS deals with wider aspects on criminal litigation. Nevertheless, it is important to understand how both interact and to know which one to use in a certain case.

In order to obtain a criminal litigation accreditation, members will have to prove to the Law Society that they maintain a high degree of knowledge as well as skills. They also have to show through external examination that they have the experience and practice necessary in criminal law work. The Criminal reaccreditation scheme is set to enable both solicitors and followers of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to have the qualification to apply for inclusion on local duty solicitor rotas. This will be executed under the the Legal Services Commission’s criminal defence service duty solicitor arrangements 2001.

President John Wotton said that 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’.  Even though that at present there is no reaccreditation, it is important to ensure that the new plan will enforce a balanced scheme so that unnecessary burdens on practitioners will be avoided. After all, the point of the plan is not to ‘create obstacle’, but to help criminal solicitors boost their credentials. The criminal reaccreditation scheme is said to help criminal solicitors stay up to date with the knowledge and qualification s necessary to practice criminal law work.

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