The legal services market faces significant challenges in ensuring that quality is maintained. Regulation can play a role in ensuring that quality risks to consumers are addressed.

Through our work in this area we have identified the following key themes in relation to management of quality risks and the actions needed:

  • Provision and transparency of performance information to allow a greater understanding of where quality issues exist
  • Development of improved assessment and segmentation of risks to quality in legal services through greater evidence based analysis, and
  • Using an outcomes focused approach to ensure regulatory interventions drive an improvement in quality standards without hindering innovation

The Legal Services Board and the Legal Services Consumer Panel have consistently championed greater transparency and opening up data held in the legal sector. The Legal Ombudsman, Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and all but one of the regulators have now published core regulatory data in a reusable format.

Further information on this issue can be found in the response document to our approaches to quality consultation.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel has provided us with advice on quality in legal services which we in turn have responded to.

The Consumer Panel has also reported on comparison websites and voluntary quality schemes in legal services. In addition to reporting on how regulators can help consumers play a more active role in the legal services market in their empowering consumers report.

Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocacy (QASA)

QASA is designed to assure the quality of all advocates appearing in the criminal courts in England and Wales be they barristers, solicitors, or legal executives.

The Scheme will include all advocates regardless of whether they are employed or self-employed, acting for the prosecution or defence.

The LSB is overseeing the development of the QASA which is been developed jointly by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards through the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG). More information on the scheme including the timetable is available on the QASA website.

In March 2011, we published a report on the delivery of QASA. This report contributed to JAG’s implementation of QASA.

On 26 July 2013, we issued a decision notice granting an application to the LSB from the Bar Standards Board, Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards for the approval of the regulatory arrangements in relation to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates. Full details of this decision can be found on the closed applications page of our website.