In contrast to the police station duty solicitor scheme which entitles anyone suspected of an offence the right to free legal advice at the police station, the court duty solicitor scheme applies to defendants who have been charged with an offence and who either do not have or have not contacted their own solicitor. Funded through the criminal legal aid scheme, defendants, regardless of whether they are in custody or on bail, have the right to consult with, and be represented by a member of duty solicitor accreditation scheme on their first appearance at the magistrates’ court.
To join the duty solicitor scheme, solicitors must apply for membership of the Law Society’s Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS); Only those who have completed the Police Station Representatives Accreditation Scheme (PSRAS) or the Police Station Qualification (PSQ) and the Magistrates Court Qualification (MCQ) can obtain CLAS membership. These accreditations can be undertaken in any order or simultaneously.
For further details regarding Police Station Accreditation, please click below:
Police Station Representatives Accreditation Scheme (PSRAS)
Police Station Qualification (PSQ)
Often referred to as the magistrates court duty qualification or the duty solicitor accreditation, the MCQ comprises two assessments; the Magistrates Court Qualification Portfolio and the Magistrates Court Qualification Interview and Advocacy Assessment (IAA).
For further information regarding the duty solicitor accreditation assessments, please click below:
MCQ Portfolio Submission
MCQ Interview and Advocacy Assessment (IAA)
The duty solicitor qualification has been designed to ensure that prospective CLAS members have the high level of knowledge, skills and experience of criminal litigation needed to become a duty solicitor. Only solicitors, barristers, Fellows of CILEx and European Lawyers can undertake the Magistrates Court Qualification with a view to obtaining CLAS membership. Once granted, practitioners can apply to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) for inclusion on their local duty solicitor rota. To assist those undertaking the magistrates court duty solicitor qualification, we do offer a range of sample based MCQ training courses which provide invaluable magistrates court qualification guidance. For those stating out at the Magistrates Court, we also offer several duty solicitor training courses including Introduction to Magistrates Court Advocacy and Advocacy in the Magistrates Court.
If you have any further questions regarding how to become a duty solicitor, please contact the Accreditations Department on 0151 236 2024. Datalaw are authorised to deliver the CLAS accreditation by the Law Society but we can only offer advice and assistance regarding the MCQ assessment process.
Any questions regarding eligibility for CLAS membership etc, should be directed to the Law Society Accreditation Department on 0207 320 5997 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any questions regarding LAA duty rotas deadlines, how to claim payment under the criminal legal aid scheme etc, should be directed to the LAA on 01159084918 or at email@example.com
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