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Criminal Quality Assurance

The Criminal Quality Assurance scheme was devised in partnership with the Law Society of Scotland, along side the development of the solemn criminal payment regime which was introduced in 2010. The scheme is administered by the SLAB under the Part IVa of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986, and is part of the overall compliance regime.
Full details on how the scheme operates can be found in the Criminal Legal Assistance Handbook, Part 1, section 3. This contains a link to our guidelines on the scheme which also includes the peer review criteria which have been set for summary solemn and criminal appeal cases.
All solicitors who have registered with SLAB to provide criminal legal assistance will be subject to peer review. This is overseen by the Criminal Quality Assurance Committee (CQAC), which is made up of three members appointed by SLAB, three members appointed by the Law Society of Scotland, and three independent or lay members appointed in consultation with the Society.
The peer reviews are not carried out by the members of the CQAC. The members’ role is to appoint and consider reports from peer reviewers, who are experienced and currently practising criminal solicitors. These peer reviews will consist of an examination of a range of solicitors’ files by one or more of a panel of peer reviewers who have been appointed after an open recruitment process from the profession.
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 will be 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.

More details on the Criminal quality Assurance scheme are available from:

Kingsley Thomas, Manager of Criminal Legal Assistance, E: or T: 0131 240 2085

Edie Cook, Criminal Quality Assurance Coordinator, E: or T: 0131 240 2000.

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