The SRA have launched a consultation on assuring advocacy standards.
One of the proposals is to require solicitors practising in the youth court to have the criminal Higher Rights Advocacy (HRA) qualification where they are acting as an advocate in any case which would go to the Crown Court if it involved an adult. The SRA’s analysis suggests that around half of solicitors currently practising in the youth courts already have the HRA qualification so only those without the qualification would be directly affected. Stakeholder views on the potential impact of this proposal are being sought and the consultation closes on 13 November 2019.
While the standards of advocacy in the youth court should be an area for concern, one has to question whether the HRA qualification is the solution. Lawyers with no interest, training or expertise in youth justice shouldn’t represent children, however, the proposed change goes no way to addressing this.