Consultation on proposed changes to the Criminal Quality Assurance Scheme and peer review criteria

Friday, Jul 27, 2018

Changes to the Criminal Quality Assurance Scheme and the Criteria are now being consulted upon and are set out in the attached consultation paper here. The feedback from this consultation will be used to finalise the changes to the Scheme and Peer review criteria for the new cycle of peer reviews due to start later this year.

All criminal solicitors who have registered with the Scottish Legal Aid Board to provide criminal legal assistance are subject to peer review. The process is overseen by SLAB’s Criminal Quality Assurance Committee.  

The peer reviews consist of an examination of a range of solicitors’ files by one or more of a panel of peer reviewers who are experienced and currently practising criminal solicitors, and were appointed after an open recruitment process. The purpose of the review is to examine the quality of the work carried out on behalf of the client, based on the evidence contained within the file.

Files are assessed against set peer review criteria for summary, solemn and criminal appeal cases. The criteria cover issues like initial client contact, bail matters, handling of preliminary or guilty pleas, trial preparation, communication of outcomes, and legal aid matters. The criteria were developed in consultation with the Law Society, and with the reviewers themselves. 

The Criminal Quality Assurance Committee and the Peer Reviewers have identified a number of issues in the Scheme which now need to be updated.  These changes must await the start of a new cycle of peer reviews to ensure consistency of the reviews in the current cycle. The new cycle of peer reviews is due to commence later this year. This gives us the opportunity to introduce changes and updates to the peer review criteria which form the basis of the assessments carried out by the Peer Reviewers.

Consultation on the new draft Code runs for a twelve week period from 27 July 2018. Please ensure any responses are submitted to us by 5pm on 19 October 2018. Details on how to respond are provided here.