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Outcome of Consultation on changing the structure and recruitment process of the Regional Panel

Outcome of Consultation on changing the structure and recruitment process of the Regional Panel

We consulted earlier this year and sought comments on the proposal to introduce a tiered (A, B and C) system to the Regional Panel, to mirror the Panel structure in London. This would replace the current system where there is one panel, and hourly rate is determined on length of experience alone.

We would like to thank you for taking the time to respond and apologise for the delay in reporting on the outcome of this exercise. The announcement of the General Election required a pause in proceedings before the consultation findings could be reported to and considered by the Law Officers.

We received only 28 responses. The majority were against the proposals. The main concern was the level of work available in the regions, in particular the possible lack of work of an A Panel standard for those who are currently being paid at £110 per hour, the Regional "A Panel" equivalent rate. However, no real alternative to the proposals was put forward.

The views expressed by all the consultees have been carefully considered, but it has been concluded that other factors, in particular (a) creating parity with the London Panels; (b) providing value for money for Government in assisting them to instruct counsel at the relevant level of experience; and (c) ensuring promotion is based on merit, and not length of experience alone, meant that the arguments were in favour of adopting an ABC tiered Panel structure.

The intention is to now proceed as follows:

Establish a Regional ABC Panel      structure from 1 March 2018. Regional A Panel will comprise advocates who      on appointment generally have at least 10 years' advocacy      experience;  Regional B Panel will comprise advocates who generally      on appointment have between 5 and 10 years' advocacy experience; and, the      Regional C Panel will comprise advocates who generally on appointment have      between 2 and 5 years' advocacy experience. However only the lower level      of 2 years' advocacy experience is an absolute.  Someone with, say,      15 years' advocacy experience can apply for the B panel if they so wish. Appointments will continue to      be for a period of 5 years, but an annual competition will be introduced      to refresh the Regional Panel.  Transitional arrangements will      involve: A Regional Panel competition       will be advertised in late October 2017 and appointments will be made in       March 2018;All members of the Regional       Panel whose appointments are due to expire in 2017 will have their       current appointment extended to the end of February 2018  to bring       them in line with the new recruitment timetable; those existing members of the       Regional Panel appointed in 2012 should apply  in the October       competition to whichever of A, B or C they choose.;those existing members of the       Regional Panel appointed in 2015 will be placed automatically on either       the A, B or C Panel depending on their hourly rate as at 30 November       2017. They will be eligible to apply in 2017 but need not do so. They can       continue to finish their period of appointment (usually ending in 2020).       This is a change from the consultation proposals where an unsuccessful       application in 2017 would result in exit from the Panel.

It will take some time for the changes to filter through and we will of course be watching carefully to see how work is spread amongst the Regional Panel members as we go forward.





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