The Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulatory Authority, the UK regulators for barristers and solicitors, have recently published reports on the quality of advocacy amongst solicitors and barristers.

The reports, the Quality of Criminal Advocacy Report and Judicial Perceptions of Advocacy, explore inter alia the views of the judiciary on the current quality, provision and regulation of advocacy within the criminal courts.

The Judicial perceptions report included key findings of the judicial research, which involved in-depth interviews with 50 High Court and circuit judges, and set out:

  • That whilst judges generally viewed the current quality of advocacy as competent, some felt that standards were declining in some areas, especially in relation to core courtroom skills such as case preparation and the use of focused questioning;
  • Advocates skills in dealing with young and vulnerable witnesses were deemed to be largely improving;
  • Advocates taking on cases beyond their level of experience was cited as the most common barrier to effective advocacy;
  • Judges were uncertain as to when, and how, the poor advocacy should be reported to regulators.

Following the publishing of both reports, it is envisaged that further research and initiative will be taken. In particular, it is anticipated that future work will centre on the role of solicitor advocates.

In addition, it is expected that the Bar Standards Board will publish a strategy for assuring the quality of advocacy.

The Quality of Criminal Advocacy Report can be accessed here.

The Judicial Perceptions Report can be accessed here.