Sep 272017

Criminal Quality Assurance Committee - Non Lawyer Members

Reference: 1321
Remuneration: Unremunerated
Location: Edinburgh, City of
Closing date: 03 November 2017 at midday




The Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) is looking for two non lawyer members to join our Criminal Quality Assurance Committee.


SLAB manages legal aid in Scotland. We are a non-departmental public body responsible to the Scottish Government. We are committed to ensuring that the legal aid system in Scotland provides high quality legal services for those who need and qualify for them.

In order to monitor this, SLAB runs a Quality Assurance Scheme for solicitors who provide criminal legal aid, in co-operation with the Law Society of Scotland. Under this scheme, all criminal solicitors who have registered with SLAB to provide criminal legal assistance are subject to peer review. The peer reviews consist of an examination of a range of solicitor's files by one or more of a panel of peer reviewers who are experienced and currently practising criminal solicitors. The purpose of the review is to examine the quality of the work carried out on behalf of the client, based on the evidence contained within the files. Files are assessed against set peer review criteria for summary, solemn and criminal appeal cases. The criteria cover issues such as initial client contact, bail matters, handling of preliminary or guilty pleas, trial preparation, communication of outcomes, and legal aid matters. The criteria were developed in consultation with the Law Society and with the reviewers themselves.

The outcomes of the peer reviews are reported to SLAB's Criminal Quality Assurance Committee, which takes the decisions on these reviews and also monitors and supervises the scheme on behalf of SLAB. A central part of the scheme is the involvement of non-lawyers as members of the Criminal Quality Assurance Committee. To undertake this role, Non Lawyer Members will be enthusiastic people with a successful background in the public, private or voluntary sectors. Members of the judiciary, practising advocates and solicitors are not eligible for appointment as lay members to the Committee.

The Criminal Quality Assurance Committee consists of:

  • three representatives from SLAB, one of whom chairs the Committee
  • three representatives from the Law Society of Scotland
  • three non lawyer members
  • one independent expert on quality assurance schemes for solicitors

The Role of a Non Lawyer Member

The role of a non lawyer member is:

  • to participate in the Committee's consideration of peer review reports
  • to contribute to the development of the Criminal Quality Assurance Scheme

The role of non lawyer members is the same as that of the SLAB and Law Society members who as a Committee considers the reviews and decides whether the subjects of these reviews have demonstrated an appropriate level of professional competence.


  • Prepare for, attend and contribute to the Criminal Quality Assurance meetings
  • Read reports on the peer reviews and consider any recommendations made for extended or special reviews
  • Attend such training as may be necessary


The work is unpaid, but all reasonable travelling and out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed.


The appointment will be for an initial three year period with the option to extend this for a further three years. Training will be provided. The time commitment to this post is likely to be one half day meeting per month, plus preparation time and other meetings from time to time as required.

Location of Meetings

The Committee meetings will usually take place at SLAB's offices in central Edinburgh.

The Requirement for Confidentiality

It is of the utmost importance the Committee members preserve the confidentiality of the peer review process. This includes not discussing reports with anyone other than at the Committee meetings convened for such a purpose. This also includes taking responsibility for the security and handling of Peer Review reports so that they are stored / transported securely at all times and that there is no opportunity at any time for them to be seen by persons who are not members of the Committee.

Person Specification

The following table sets out in detail the skills, knowledge and personal qualities which are either essential or desirable for non legal members of the Criminal Quality Assurance Committee.

Skills Essential Desirable
Strong analytical skills with the ability to exercise sound judgement in relation to the handling of complex and sensitive issues Yes
Good interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people Yes
The ability to work constructively as part of a team in a board committee environment, with the confidence and independence of thought to challenge and test proposals on decision made by the committee Yes
The ability to interpret and evaluate substantial volumes of (often complex) information effectively with the ability to devise pragmatic solutions Yes
Knowledge Essential Desirable
A basic comprehension of the criminal justice system and the legal profession in Scotland Yes
A good understanding of professional competence Yes
An understanding of quality assurance and peer review schemes and evaluating professional standards Yes
Personal Qualities Essential Desirable
Committed to the ethos of public service Yes
Committed to diversity in public service Yes
Positive, open minded and forward-thinking Yes

Applying for the Position

To apply, please send an up-to-date Curriculum Vitae and a supporting statement of no more than 1,000 words, outlining why you are applying and how you believe you meet the essential and desirable criteria that are set out above. Where you give examples, these can be taken from any aspect of your life that you consider most relevant; however, we would recommend that you use an example of a recent event, ideally within the last 2 - 3 years, wherever possible.

Please send your completed application to: Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance at the Scottish Legal Aid Board: by 12.00 noon on the closing date, Friday 3 November 2017

Interviews are due to take place in December 2017, with the successful candidates due take up their positions in January 2018.

If you are unable to make an electronic application, you may submit your application on paper to the following address:
Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance, the Scottish Legal Aid Board, Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5HE

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