- Current News
- Details of the Scheme
- Advocate Panel Members' Commitment
- Pre-qualification Questions
- Equalities Monitoring
- Explanatory Note to Referees (All Panels)
- Appeals Process Overview (All Panels)
- Advocate Panel List
Last updated - 13 May 2021
Application Window 2021
Applications for the September 2021 application window can be started using the Advocate Panel Application Portal at any time and referees can be notified of your reference request. Applicants are advised to carefully consider the relevant Selection Criteria prior to drafting and submitting their application.
• Applications to permanently join or upgrade on the General Crime and Specialist Panels at levels 2, 3 or 4 can only be submitted between 1 September and 30 September.
• Referees should always be given at least 28 days notice to allow for completion of a reference prior to the 30 September deadline.
Applications to join the General Crime List as a temporary member are accepted between 1 November and 31 July. Please note: temporary membership applications are not accepted for unsuccessful new joiner applicants from the application window.
Level 1 and RASSO Applications
Level 1 and RASSO applications are accepted all year round.
Further guidance for applicants and referees on how to use the application portal, including a series of short explainer videos, can be accessed using the Advocate Panel Portal link on this page. Information regarding the application process can be found below.
Please do contact us if you have changed chambers and require your email address to be changed on the Advocate Panel Portal or if you have any queries about the new process. All queries should be directed to: Advocate.Panels@cps.gov.uk.
Details of the Scheme and further information
Details of the Scheme - General Crime and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (‘the RASSO List’) (updated July 2020)
The CPS Advocate Panel (‘the 2012 Panel’) came into effect in February 2012 and the central Specialist Panels followed in April 2013. The Advocate Panel undertook a refresh in 2016 and the Specialist Lists underwent their refresh in 2018.
The CPS Advocate Panel arrangements established a time limited list of quality assured advocates to undertake criminal prosecution advocacy for CPS in the Crown Court and Higher Courts.
The 2020 Panel will operate from 2020 to 2024. This document describes the aims and purpose of the 2020 Panel.
In addition to the General Crime and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (‘RASSO List’), the CPS has separate arrangements relating to the central Specialist Panels, which run from 2018 to 2022 and relate to the following areas of casework:
- Counter Terrorism Panel
- Extradition Panel
- Fraud Panel (including fiscal fraud)
- Serious Crime Group Panel
- Proceeds of Crime Panel
The aim of the Panel arrangements is to appoint advocates who have met the selection criteria and have relevant, up to date skills and experience. Any advocate appointed must be able to deliver high quality prosecution advocacy services and have a commitment to meet the aims and objectives of the CPS.
The CPS requires that all prosecution advocates provide advocacy services of the highest quality. This extends beyond technical ability and includes attitudes and behaviours. All advocates instructed by the CPS, whether in-house or external, will be expected to behave in accordance with published CPS values, which are:
To be independent and fair:
We will prosecute independently, without bias and will seek to deliver justice in every case.
To be honest and open:
We will explain our decisions, set clear standards about the service the public can expect from us and be honest if we make a mistake.
To treat everyone with respect:
We will respect each other, our colleagues and the public we serve, recognising that there are people behind every case.
To behave professionally and strive for excellence:
We will work as one team, always seeking new and better ways to deliver the best possible service for the public. We will be efficient and responsible with tax-payers' money.
The aim is for all new instructions, and returns, for Crown Court and Higher Court advocacy to be delivered to Panel members or in-house advocates at an appropriate level for the case.
Membership of the 2020 Panel will provide no guarantee of instruction but will provide advocates with a greater opportunity of prosecution work in accordance with CPS business need.
Notwithstanding the panel arrangements, CPS has discretion to instruct advocates off-Panel in accordance with current practice, for example, where CPS requires an advocate with particular skills, experience and availability.
There will be no restriction to the defence practice of any advocate appointed to the Panel.
The Advocate Panel process is open and transparent and provides equal opportunity to all applicants.
The 2020 Panel scheme will not apply to the following categories of advocate for whom different assessment and selection processes apply:
- Junior and Senior Treasury Counsel
- Queen’s Counsel
- CPS in-house advocates
For the avoidance of doubt, the scheme will apply to Treasury Counsel monitorees.
Transition to the 2020 Panel
Members of the 2016 Panel and RASSO list who had previously met the assessment criteria and had been actively undertaking prosecution work for CPS, thereby demonstrating that their skills and experience was up to date, were invited to join the 2020 Panel without the requirement to make an application.
Appointment by invitation was subject to members agreeing to comply with the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment. The invitation process concluded in May 2020. The Advocate Panel will next be refreshed in 2024. The Specialist Panels will undergo a refresh in 2022.
1. Applications to join the Advocate Panel at level 1 for General Crime can be made at any time.
2. Applications to join the Advocate Panel at levels 2, 3 or 4, or upgrade a level can be made during the annual application window each September.
All applications must be submitted online in accordance with the Application/Upgrade Process. Email applications will be accepted until the online application portal goes live.
Duration of 2020 Panel
3. The 2020 Panel will run from 2020 to 2024. CPS will have authority to adjust the period, but will do so in consultation with the Bar Council and Law Society.
4. Details regarding the arrangements for the 2024 Advocate Panel for General Crime and the ‘RASSO List’ will be published in due course and be subject to discussion with the Bar Council and Law Society.
2020 Panel Numbers
5. The number of places at level 1 will have no limit. This will allow junior advocates the opportunity to try to secure and experience criminal prosecution work.
6. The number of places at levels 2 and 3 and for the ‘RASSO List’ will have no limit but this can be revisited by local CALCs and a limit can be set in accordance with CPS business need. The business need will take into account potential future caseload, future court sittings, numbers of instructions anticipated, availability of in-house advocacy resource and historical data on the number of active external advocates.
7. The number of places at level 4 on the 2020 Panel will have no limit.
8. Advocates who successfully apply to join a Circuit, and select a secondary Circuit, will be appointed at the same level for both.
Management of Circuit Lists
9. Each Circuit based list will be managed by the local Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee (CALC). Maintenance of the Advocate Panel and Specialist Panels will be managed by the Advocate Panel team and queries regarding the list should always be directed to the Advocate Panels mailbox.
10. The local CALC will convene on a regular basis. The Circuit Leader will be invited to join the CALC.
11. The role of the CALC will include performance management of advocates. CALCs can decide to remove or downgrade panel members in accordance with the CPS Errant Conduct and Poor Performance by External Advocates Guidance.
12. CPS will look critically at the performance of 2020 Panel members to make sure they meet the standards required, in terms of technical ability, outcomes being achieved and attitudes and behaviours. CPS will require advocates, particularly at level 4 and members of the ‘RASSO List’, to consistently perform to a very high standard.
13. CPS will work closely with the chambers of any barrister appointed to the 2016 Panel to ensure chambers comply with the CPS Equalities and Diversity Expectations Statement.
14. CPS will also work closely with barristers’ chambers in relation to performance of chambers and counsel. Any performance issue in relation to an individual advocate will be raised directly with the advocate concerned and with the Head of Chambers or Senior Clerk.
15. In relation to solicitor advocates, CPS will be at liberty to alert a Senior Partner of a firm to any performance issue in relation to an employed advocate.
All advocates appointed to the CPS Advocate Panel or the Specialist Panels, by invitation or application, will commit to meet the expectations CPS has of its Panel members. The initial expectations are outlined below but could be subject to change. Any change will be published by CPS on its website and on the External Prosecution College. Panel members will also be advised of any significant changes by email. Failure to comply with the expectations could result in removal from the Panel.
The Panel members’ commitment applies to advocates whilst acting for CPS and, more generally, in their capacity as Panel members.
Advocate Panel members will commit as follows:
1. To be familiar with and comply with the requirements of the Code for Crown Prosecutors
2. To meet CPS Casework Quality Standards, in particular the presentation standard.
3. To act in accordance with the Farquharson guidelines on the role of the prosecution advocate, or any other guideline or standard agreed between the CPS and Bar Council. Panel Members are reminded it is the duty of prosecution advocate to read the Instructions expeditiously and to advise or confer with those instructing on all aspects of the case well before its commencement. The prosecution advocate will respond within five working days of receiving instructions, or within such period as may be specified or agreed where the case is substantial or the issues complex.
4. On receipt of instructions the prosecution advocate will consider the papers and advise the CPS (in writing, or orally in cases of urgency). Where appropriate, an advice can be provided as a list of bullet points in the body of a secure email. The advocate should advise that the case is satisfactory and no further work is required, or where:
- The prosecution advocate takes a different view to that expressed by the CPS (or where applicable a previous prosecution advocate) on acceptability of plea
- The indictment as preferred requires amendment
- Additional evidence is required
- There is an evidential deficiency (which cannot be addressed by the obtaining of further evidence) and, applying the Code for Crown Prosecutors, there is no realistic prospect of conviction; or the prosecution advocate believes it is not in the public interest to continue the prosecution
- In order to expedite and simplify proceedings certain formal admissions should be made
- The prosecution advocate, having reviewed previous disclosure decisions, disagrees with a decision that has been made; or is not satisfied that he or she is in possession of all relevant documentation; or considers that he or she has not been fully instructed regarding disclosure matters
- A case conference is required (particularly where there is a sensitive issue e.g. informant, PII, rape etc.)
- Parameters on acceptable plea(s) are required
- The presentation of the case to the court requires special preparation of material for the jury or presentational aids.
5. Except for overnight returns, to acknowledge receipt of instructions and advise CPS of their contact details.
6. To comply with duties requiring action or compliance from the prosecution advocate, in particular:
- Judges’ orders
- Criminal Procedure Rules
- Case management requirements, including engagement with advocates representing the defence
- Timescales in relation to appeals or potential appeals
7. To secure appropriate level security clearance, as required for advocates undertaking specialist organised crime work, particularly terrorism.
8. To ensure the approach to prosecuting is efficient and effective, minimizing unnecessary or avoidable cost to the public purse.
9. To provide an adverse case report as required in RASSO or other cases.
10. For counsel, to comply with the security arrangements agreed between the Law Officers’ Departments and the Bar, in particular the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Information Security and Government Work. Solicitor advocates will also be expected to comply with these principles.
11. To meet the National Standards of Advocacy published on the CPS website.
12. To follow CPS policy guidance and legal policy in relation to advocacy and the prosecution function.
13. To comply with the CPS advocacy assessment process and be available for assessment, if required
14. To follow agreed procedures and guidance on the care and treatment of victims and witnesses, particularly those who may be vulnerable or have special needs. To ensure professional and sensitive interaction with victims and witnesses as an essential part of the role of the prosecution advocate.
15. To follow policy guidance available on the CPS web-site particularly in relation to speaking to witnesses at court.
16. To pay particular attention to the appropriate and timely handling of cases where a custody time limit applies, and to announce the agreed CTL during each hearing.
17. To announce their attendance to CPS staff, or sign-in, on each occasion when attending court.
18. To inform CPS without delay when they are likely to be unavailable to undertake a prosecution or have conflicting diary clashes. The early notification of unavailability is particularly important in complex or serious cases with a fixed trial date.
Communication and digital working
19. To meet any requirement for digital working agreed with the Bar Council and published on the CPS web-site (in due course).
20. To maintain an active secure email account and keep CPS informed of the secure email address and contact details at all times
21. To have access to a secure operational email account, which must:
- be able to send and receive emails, which may contain sensitive information, over the Government Secure Intranet
- be used as the address by which the CPS will serve or make available evidence and communicate electronically
- be capable of being used to work electronically within the criminal justice system and with other criminal justice agencies. This means (without limitation) that the system must be able to connect to any standards based video link conference system (i.e. IP (internet Protocol) based system).
- be capable of being accessed and used remotely (for example at courts and police stations).
22. To comply with the requirements of digital working, including use of the Digital Case System in the Crown Court and to complete and return the Hearing Record Sheet (HRS) within 24 hours of the conclusion of a hearing. Notwithstanding completion of the HRS, matters of urgency must be reported to a CPS representative without delay.
23. When the CJS Common Platform becomes available in a court centre to register for, obtain and use a CJS CP digital identity and use the platform to:
- Access evidence that is served or made available direct on the platform
- Undertake any case progression activity, as required.
- Serve any documents required on the court or parties
- Make any applications to court
- Professional Conduct and training
24. To meet the requirements of their professional regulator, in particular to hold a current practising certificate
25. To act and behave at all times in accordance with CPS Values
26. When instructed by CPS, to refrain from commenting on cases inappropriately, or criticising those instructing inappropriately, including through social media
27. To advise CPS of any arrest on a criminal charge, caution, conviction or referral to a disciplinary tribunal.
28. To undertake mandatory training requirements as determined by CPS and published on the CPS website and External Prosecution College.
29. To advise CPS of a material change in circumstances; for example change of chambers / business address, contact details, withdrawal from practice etc.
30. To comply with CPS remuneration and billing arrangements
If applicants are unclear about the requirements listed above, or require further information, they should contact Advocate.Panels@cps.gov.uk.
All new applicants must answer pre-qualification questions as part of the application process for the General Crime and Specialist Panels.
The pre-qualification questions require new applicants to disclose details and dates of:
- criminal investigations, charges or prosecutions relating to them;
- criminal convictions, cautions, reprimands and out of court disposals recorded against them;
- disciplinary findings found against them by their professional body or Regulator;
- civil proceedings for negligence or breach of trust, and
- instances where the CPS has deemed it necessary formally to remove instructions from them.
The pre-qualification questions also require disclosure of allegations which are pending resolution.
The CPS reserves the right not to accept or further consider applications where, in the view of the CPS, the CPS or other criminal justice participant would not have adequate confidence in the applicant’s judgement or integrity if the applicant was appointed to the Panel, based on the answers to the pre-qualification questions or resulting enquiries.
In this respect the CPS will assess the level of confidence likely to be held in the applicant by;
- victims and witnesses
- the general public
- other practitioners, and
- the police.
In assessing public confidence, the degree of media interest and notoriety arising from any incident or behaviour listed in the pre-qualification questionnaire will be taken into account.
In respect of the pre-qualification issues, including unresolved allegations, all factors will be considered including:
- nature and seriousness of the allegations;
- the age of the allegations;
- individual’s age at time of allegation;
- circumstances of victims;
- level of sentence or potential sentence, and
- appeal procedures.
Responses to pre-qualification questions and any additional information subsequently provided will be anonymised and assessed independently, prior to the full assessment of the applicant’s written application. In most cases pre-qualification assessments will be conducted by a single independent CPS assessor. However, more serious or complex assessments may be considered by a three-person panel. If the application is accepted and proceeds to a full assessment, the answers to pre-qualification questions will play no part in the assessment of the application. If the Independent assessor(s) decide the application should not proceed to full assessment, the applicant will be notified. The applicant has a right to appeal this decision and should do so within 28 days of the notification date. The grounds of appeal should be set out in an email and must not exceed 500 words. All appeals will be considered by the relevant Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee.
The Advocate Panel arrangements follow the fundamental principles of the Equality Act 2010 and our Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). Accordingly, all applicants to join the Advocate Panel (General Crime or Specialist Panels) are required to complete equalities monitoring questions.
The Duty covers age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, gender and sexual orientation and to a limited extent marriage and civil partnership referred to in the Act as ‘protected characteristics’.
The general equality duty is set out in section 149 of the Equality Act and requires that public bodies, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimization;
- Advance equality of opportunity between different groups; and
- Foster good relations between different groups.
In order to demonstrate compliance with the PSED the CPS is charged with taking reasonable and practicable steps to show due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity. We are also required to publish relevant and proportionate information to demonstrate compliance.
One of the ways the CPS meets this duty, is by collecting and analysing data on the protected characteristics of applicants to the Panel. This enables us to identify whether groups with protected characteristics are proportionately represented and take action where a group(s) is underrepresented.
Whilst we have a statutory obligation to do this, we believe there is a strong link between a diverse workforce and inclusive culture, public trust and confidence in the CPS. Our approach also supports the government social mobility agenda, which welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.
None of the information provided will be visible to those assessing your application. It will only be used anonymously to monitor the inclusivity of our selection processes.
1. Applicants to the scheme should identify referees who will provide references to support their application and ensure that any reference upon which they rely is submitted within the permitted timeframe.
2. The requirement for references for the General Crime List and ‘RASSO List’ are as follows:
- Level 1 applicants should have one reference;
- Level 2 and 3 applicants should have two references;
- Level 4 applicants should have three references;
- RASSO List applicants (already at level 3 or 4) should have one reference.
3. The requirement for the Specialist Panels are as follows:
- Level 1 applicants (Extradition Panel only) should have one reference;
- Level 2 and 3 applicants should have two references;
- Level 4 applicants should have three references.
4. References can be obtained from any person whom the applicant believes best supports their application and is prepared to stand as a referee. The table below provides examples of suitable referees for each level. Please note that there is no longer an expectation that Level 2 applications will be supported by a judicial reference.
|Level 1 (General Crime and Extradition Panel)||Level 2 (All Panels)||Level 3 and 4 (All Panels)/RASSO List|
5. Instructing members of the CPS may compose a reference for an Advocate Panel applicant. Any reference provided by an instructing member of the CPS will be considered an organisational reference, and not a personal one. The draft reference must be approved by either the Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) or Head of Casework Division, or someone delegated by the CCP/Head of Casework Division.
6. The referee must complete the online form using the application portal which will automatically link to the applicant.
7. Referees should be aware that if the CPS subsequently receives a Freedom of Information Act request for release of the reference the request will be considered in line with the guidance from the Information Commissioner.
8. It remains the applicant’s responsibility to secure the referee’s agreement to provide a reference, to notify the referee using the online application portal and to ensure that the reference is submitted to the CPS by the deadline date. Accordingly, applicants should ensure that potential referees are given sufficient notice (28 days) of what they are required to provide and the date for submission.
9. Referees should complete the appropriate reference form and will be directed to do so using the online application portal.
10. Referees should be in a position to speak with authority about the skills specified in the selection criteria. The assessment boards are aware it is generally more difficult for applicants at level 2 to find referees who can speak with authority on all of the required skills and allowances are made for this.
11. Referees will be asked to consider the competencies of the applicant in respect of the level applied for under the following headings:
- Knowledge of the applicant’s work;
- Legal decision making and case strategy;
- Interpersonal skills; and
- Additional information which would assist.
12. Please note: The Advocate Panel team will not contact referees regarding outstanding references.
This paper provides an overview of the Advocate Panel appeal process and the process for submitting an appeal for General Crime, RASSO or Specialist Panel applications.
Enquiries from applicants regarding the appeal process should be directed by email to the following address: email@example.com.
Scope for Appeal
|Decision at pre-qualification stage not to accept application into the process||Appeal against decision not to proceed to full assessment|
|Unsuccessful at the level applied for but successful at the next level down||Appeal against the unsuccessful higher level assessment|
|Unsuccessful at the level applied for and unsuccessful at the next level down||A single appeal can be submitted against both unsuccessful assessments or just against the lower level assessment|
|Successful for general crime but unsuccessful in relation to the ‘RASSO List’||Applicants can appeal against non-appointment to the ‘RASSO List’|
|Unsuccessful application to upgrade||Appeal against the decision not to upgrade|
|Unsuccessful application for temporary membership (General Crime only)||No appeal|
Submitting an Appeal
Applicants can appeal the decision taken by a pre-qualification assessor(s) for their application not to proceed to full assessment. The appeal should be submitted by email to the Advocate Panel mailbox within 28 days of receiving the notification. The appeal must not exceed 500 words. This appeal will be considered by the relevant Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee.
Advocates who apply to join the Advocate Panel/Specialist Panels or upgrade their level and are unsuccessful for either the level applied for or the next level down may appeal.
Where an applicant is unsuccessful they will receive feedback outlining where the assessment panel considered the application failed to meet the acceptable standard. This will help applicants to focus their appeal on the selection criteria which let down their application most. Applicant’s can view their feedback by clicking on the download button next to the relevant application on their Dashboard.
If an applicant wishes to appeal they will have the opportunity to provide reasons for the appeal and additional evidence using the online appeal form. To access the online appeal form, applicant’s will need to access their Dashboard and click on the appeal button next to the relevant application. Any appeal submission will be restricted to a word count.
Applicants may submit one new additional supporting document with their appeal. The document must be attached to the online appeal by the appellant and must only be a single document from one author e.g. a letter of support, an example of written work, a reference etc, but it must not be a compendium of documents.
Applicants who wish to appeal are advised to review their original application form against the original guidance on the selection criteria and to address gaps and weaknesses in their appeal.
All appeals at level 1 will considered by a single member of CPS staff, who has not previously been involved in the assessment of the appellant’s application.
All appeals at levels 2, 3 and 4 will be considered by an Appeal board for their first choice circuit or in the case of the Specialist Panels, the relevant Casework Division. Appeal Boards will consist of a minimum of three members and comprise of CPS staff and/or a senior representative of the Bar. Appeal Boards will proceed with two members where, due to a conflict of interest, a member has to recuse themselves from the assessment process. The Chair for the Appeal Board must be either a Chief Crown Prosecutor/Head of Casework Division or Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor/Deputy Head of Casework Division. The process will allow original applications to be re-assessed along with the additional information in the appeal. Any revised score resulting from the appeal will also apply to the applicant’s second choice of circuit.
All appeals must be submitted online (following the guidance above) within 28 days of being informed of the result of the application (the deadline for submission will be visible on the Applicant’s Dashboard). There is limited scope for applicants to submit a late appeal. Any appeals received after the closing date will not be accepted unless it is for good reason and by prior agreement, for example for reasons of pregnancy, maternity or extended paternity leave.
Applicants will receive the outcome of their appeal via email. This marks the end of the appeal process. There is no further avenue of appeal.
If the appeal is unsuccessful for a new joiner application at levels 2, 3 or 4, applicants will not be permitted to apply again at that level until the next application window. Temporary membership applications are not permitted for applicants who are unsuccessful in their new joiner applications. Applications for level 1 are accepted at any time throughout the year.
If the appeal is unsuccessful for an upgrade application, the applicant will be required to wait until the next application window before submitting a further application to upgrade their level.