Enhancing the Quality of Criminal Advocacy

Closed 27 Nov 2015

Opened 1 Oct 2015


The Government has issued a consultation paper (Preserving and Enhancing the Quality of Criminal Advocacy) setting out a package of measures to ensure the quality of criminal defence advocacy, reducing the influence of financial incentives on choice of advocate and support clients’ rights to make an informed choice of advocate.

The Government has a responsibility to ensure the delivery of an efficient, fair and effective justice system in which the public has confidence and therefore has a legitimate interest in making sure that good quality criminal advocacy services are available to those that need them. The government, via the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), is also the largest single procurer of criminal defence advocacy services, and has a responsibility to ensure that, where such advocacy services are being paid for with public money, they are of a good quality.

The Government is seeking views on:

  • the proposed introduction of a panel scheme – publicly funded criminal defence advocacy in the Crown Court and above would be undertaken by advocates who are members of this panel;
  • the proposed introduction of a statutory ban on referral fees;
  • how disguised referral fees can be identified and prevented; and
  • the proposed introduction of stronger measures to ensure client choice and prevent conflicts of interest.

These measures seek to address the concerns highlighted by Sir Bill Jeffrey in his Review of Independent Criminal Advocacy (May 2014). Sir Bill found a level of disquiet amongst judges and practitioners about the standards of advocacy, and found that the market was not operating competitively so as to optimise quality.


  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Legal professional bodies


  • Criminal justice
  • Legal aid
  • Access to justice