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CPS GRADING SYSTEM

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CPS GRADING SYSTEM Powered By Docstoc
					Note from Dru Sharpling, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS London, and Timothy Dutton
QC, Leader of the London and South Eastern Circuit.

Background
1.    As you will know, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London is the largest user of
      external advocates in the country. In 1993, the CPS London changed its method of
      instructing advocates who are not Queen’s Counsel from a grading system to that of
      preferred sets. Other CPS areas throughout the country have retained a grading system.
      In consultation with the Bar it has been agreed that CPS London should revert to a
      grading system. Both the Bar (as represented by the Criminal Bar Association and the
      South Eastern Circuit) and the CPS believe that it will have the following advantages:

       (a)    Standardisation of approach throughout the country, providing four grades of
              advocate. The system will be applied initially across London and then across the
              South Eastern Circuit.
       (b)    Greater freedom for individual advocates to practice at any court in London.
       (c)    An enhanced ability for advocates, whether self employed, sole practitioners or in
              firms or sets of chambers (which may not have many members who wish to
              prosecute), to obtain work. It is hoped that this will benefit practitioners from
              black and minority ethnic groups to obtain good quality work. The new scheme
              will take full account of our commitment to our equality and diversity aims,
              reflecting the diverse nature of the capital’s communities.
       (d)    To enable CPS London to instruct the right advocate with the appropriate skills
              and experience for that particular case, and to build up a cadre of advocates who
              wish to prosecute.

Proposal
2.    A large number of advocates are currently eligible to prosecute in London and it has
      therefore been necessary to devise a way to transfer from the preferred sets system to
      individual grading, which can be carried out swiftly to ensure a smooth transition. It has
      therefore been agreed that any suitably qualified advocates who wish their practices to
      include a certain amount of prosecution work, should apply to join a new CPS London
      List to prosecute in London, by way of the attached application and grading form. The
      grade claimed on the application form will be a provisional one, to be confirmed at a later
      stage by a panel under the auspices of the London Joint Advocate Selection Committee
      (JASC).

3.     This will involve a degree of self-assessment on the part of those applying, the assistance
       of heads of chambers and their clerks (where relevant) and rigorous oversight by the
       London JASC; or a panel appointed on the direction of the London JASC, to ensure a
       swift and fair system for Provisional Grading.

4.     Applications from self-employed practitioners and suitably qualified solicitors will be
       examined by a separate panel as agreed with the London JASC.




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The Process
5.    The Notes for Guidance accompanying this letter identify the four grades which can be
      applied for and the criteria for each grade. An electronic application form is required
      from those advocates who are currently receiving work from CPS London and wish to
      continue to do so after 2 nd April 2007. Applicants must submit an electronic application
      by 31st January 2007. There is no requirement for them to do so if they no longer wish to
      be instructed by CPS London. Entry to the CPS London List is open to all those who
      have chambers, practising facilities, or a business address in Greater London. The
      application form can be obtained by accessing the External Advocates Application menu
      link on the CPS London Website at www.cps.gov.uk/London

6.     The head of chambers will be responsible for carrying out the following processes:

       (i)     Ensuring that each member of chambers who wishes to prosecute for CPS London
               completes an application form to apply for entry to the CPS London List;

       (ii)    Ensuring consultation with that advocate and anyone else he/she wishes to consult
               (and which must include the senior clerk), that the grade applied for is realistic to
               the advocate’s knowledge, experience and skills and meets the criteria for that
               grade;

       (iii)   Where the CPS requires the advocate to have attended a specialist course, that the
               advocate has attended that course and that the information is properly recorded on
               the application form (a list of training courses is available from the Criminal Bar
               Association);

       (iv)    Completing and endorsing the application form online, confirming that in his/her
               opinion the advocate whose name appears on the form, has the skills and
               experience required for the grade applied for;

       (v)     Ensuring that the application is submitted by the date stated.

7.     Sole practitioner advocates and suitably qualified solicitors may submit the application
       directly to CPS London without an endorsement. Suitably qualified solicitors should
       obtain the endorsement of a partner in the firm or senior partner where available.

       Please note that the application must be sent electronically to the following e-mail
       address:
       Externaladvocates.CPSL@cps.gsi.gov.uk
       Applications in any other format will not be accepted.

8.     It is expected that there will be agreement between the individual applicant and the head
       of chambers as to the appropriate grading. In the unlikely event of a disagreement
       between the barrister and the head of chambers as to the grading to be applied for, the
       inability to agree may be identified on the form and the matter will be referred to the



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       London JASC, after all other provisional grades have been reviewed and as soon
       thereafter as time allows.

9.     From 2 April 2007 any advocate who has not applied for entry to the London List and a
       provisional grading, will not be eligible to receive new instructions from CPS London.

Processing of the Forms
10.   When the grading lists are received from heads of chambers they will be reviewed by a
      panel appointed by the London JASC. In order to protect the Bar as a whole and those
      advocates applying for grading; if the London JASC has reasonable cause to doubt the
      validity of the grading of a member or members of those chambers, the London JASC
      will review all members of those chambers. This will be dealt with only when the
      London JASC has completed the grading of all other advocates who have applied for a
      provisional grading.

11.    This will inevitably involve delay in respect of those advocates whose chambers or
       individual applications have been sent for review. It is hoped that by individuals and
       heads of chambers making realistic applications, that no delays will be encountered.

Confirming the Grade
12.   All grades will be confirmed over a period of a year commencing 31 January 2007.
      Advocates and heads of chambers will be informed of the panel’s decision.

New Applicants
13.  CPS London encourages anyone who has not prosecuted in London previously, to apply
     to join the list. The CPS, supported by the South Eastern Circuit and the Criminal Bar
     Association, wish to stress their commitment to instructing barristers in a way that is
     representative of the Bar as a whole.

14.    Applications to join the list at Grade 1 from those who have not prosecuted for CPS
       London before will be accepted at any time, using the same process set out at paragraphs
       6 and 7. The application form can be obtained by accessing the External Advocates
       Application Form menu link on the CPS London Website at www.cps.gov.uk/London and
       e-mailed to Externaladvocates.CPSL@cps.gsi.gov.uk

Movement across the Grades
15.  After 12 months on the list Grade 1s will be automatically graded through to Grade 2
     (subject to satisfactory work), following endorsement by the head of chambers as
     outlined in paragraph 6. Subject to CPS requirements, competitions will be held for
     advocates to move between the other grades and will be advertised on the CPS website.
     The CPS reserves the right to appoint advocates to any grade at such time as is required,
     subject to the process outlined at paragraph 6 above.




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Updating the CPS London List
16.   In order to keep the CPS London List current and relevant to CPS needs, advocates
      across all grades will be expected to notify CPS London at the end of each year (1 April)
      that they are available to accept work in the grade that they have been allocated.

Quality Assurance
17.    Working together with the Bar Council a quality assurance scheme will be devised to
       ensure the quality of advocacy and performance. CPS London will monitor the return of
       briefs by advocates in order to ensure that its needs are best met. Returned briefs can
       only be accepted by an advocate of the same grade or of a higher grade to the original
       advocate.

Appeals
18.   Appeals against any refusal by the London JASC to confirm the provisional grading
      applied for can be made to an appeal panel, comprising nominees of the London JASC, a
      senior CPS member, and a QC member of the South Eastern Circuit and Criminal Bar
      Association (who is not a member of the London JASC) jointly nominated by the Leader
      of the Circuit and the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, and another member.
      The panel will be representative of both sides of the profession and accord with equality
      and diversity principles. The appellant may be asked to provide further details in support
      of their application.

19.    Applications can only be made in writing and with such supporting documentation as the
       advocate wishes to submit. An application to appeal will only be entertained if it is
       submitted within 14 days of notification of the London JASC’s determination. The
       appeal will be considered as soon as reasonably practicable and, in any event, within two
       months.

Record Keeping
20.   The CPS will keep the records of the applicant secure and it will also undertake to retain
      the details for five years from the date of departure from the list. After that date the
      records of the advocate will be deleted. An advocate can request to be provided with any
      information held by CPS London or the London JASC.

Queries
21.   Any queries in respect of the above should be directed in the first part to the Head of the
      External     Advocates        Unit     at    the      following        e-mail      address:
      Externaladvocates.CPSL@cps.gsi.gov.uk




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