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Advocate Panels - Assessment Process

Summary of Application Process

1. Applicants will apply for the Magistrates’ and Youth Court, General Crime, RASSO or any of the Specialist Panels by completing and submitting an online application form via the portal, together with any supporting documents. References (where required) will also be submitted via the portal.

2. For General Crime and RASSO, applicants can apply for a place on up to two Circuit based Panels and will identify their primary Circuit and preferred Crown Court location(s).

3. Only advocates who have been assessed as being suitable for levels 3 or 4 will be considered for the ‘RASSO List’.

4. Applications and references are submitted via the Online Application Portal to the Advocate Panel team in HQ Operations with the assessment of applications undertaken at Circuit/Area/Casework Division level.

Assessors and Assessment Boards

Level 1 and Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel assessments

5. Applications to join the Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel or at Level 1 on the General Crime and Extradition Panels will be assessed by a single member of the CPS.

Levels 2, 3, 4 (General Crime and Specialist Panels) and RASSO

6. Assessment Boards will be conducted for applicants wishing to apply at Levels 2, 3 or 4, upgrade a level or join the ‘RASSO List’.

7. Assessment Boards should consist of a minimum of three members, comprising CPS colleagues and, wherever possible, a representative from the Bar. Every effort should be made to ensure the board is as diverse as possible to be representative of the wider community.


8. Assessment Boards will only proceed with two members where - notwithstanding the anonymised process - an assessor believes they have identified an applicant and perceives there to be a conflict of interest as a result. A conflict of interest will occur where a member of the assessment board knows an applicant well, belongs to the same chambers or firm, or has acted as their referee. In such circumstances, the assessor should recuse themselves from the assessment process.

9. The Assessment Boards will meet and agree a Chair for the session. Each Assessment Board will be provided with copies of their allocation of applications, references and marking forms via their Assessor Dashboard on the online application portal.

Assessment of applications

Assessment criteria

10. The Assessment Boards will score each candidate against the selection criteria. Once a score is agreed, the Chair will complete an assessment form for each candidate on the online application portal.

11. Applications will be assessed against set criteria. Each criterion will be scored against the requirement for the level applied for and an overall score determined.

12. The criteria for assessment of all panels (excluding RASSO) applications will fall under the following headings:

  • Advocacy
  • Advisory Work (excluding Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel)
  • PII and disclosure (excludes Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel, Level 1 and Extradition Panel)
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • Understanding the role of the CPS Panel Advocate

13. The criteria for assessment of RASSO applications will fall under the following headings:

  • Consent, Myths & Stereotypes
  • Awareness of CPS policies in relation to Rape & Serious Sexual Offences
  • Medical & Forensic Science

Scoring Framework

14. Assessment Boards will review each application against the criteria relevant to the level and/or Panel applied for and score each section.

15. Each of the criterion will be scored between 0-7 points, based on the specific requirements of the selection criteria in the context of the casework for the level applied for. For example, overall advocacy experience markings would be awarded as follows:

1Not DemonstratedNo positive evidence of the competency
2Minimal DemonstrationLimited positive evidence of the competency
3Moderate DemonstrationModerate positive evidence of the competency
4Acceptable DemonstrationAdequate positive evidence of the competency
5Good DemonstrationSubstantial positive evidence of the competency
6Strong DemonstrationSubstantial, positive evidence of the competency and includes some evidence of exceeding expectations
7Outstanding DemonstrationEvidence provided wholly exceeds expectation at this level

Minimum Scoring

All Panels excluding RASSO

LevelAdvocacy Minimum ScoreAdvisory Minimum Score
Magistrates’ and Youth Court4N/A
Level 133
Level 244
Level 344
Level 444


Consent, Myths & Stereotypes

Minimum Score

Awareness of CPS policies in relation to Rape and Serious Sexual Offences

Minimum Score

Medical & Forensic Science

Minimum Score


16. Applicants are asked to provide answers relevant to criminal law practice. If they have limited or no relevant knowledge, skills or experience, they are invited to give examples of analogous knowledge, skills or experience and/or an aptitude to develop in these areas. Applicants who have failed to do so should receive fewer marks, proportionate to the relevance of the area(s) to the criteria.

17. Defence experience will carry equal weight to prosecution experience, provided the applicant can demonstrate that their defence skills and knowledge are transferable to prosecution work.

18. Assessors need to be aware that:

  1. The word limit for each section of the application form is deliberately very tight
  2. Applicants are expected to focus on their ability and experience and analyse it constructively
  3. Applicants should not get credit merely for listing cases or saying “I have been involved in…”  This gives no basis for assessing their ability, achievements or potential
  4. Applicants have been asked to select referees based on who can say most about their competencies. Whilst references from instructing solicitors are helpful, do not overlook references from judges, leaders, opponents etc.
  5. Applicants who have a predominantly defence practice should be able to demonstrate transferable skills and knowledge
  6. Applicants from a non-criminal background may not have direct experience of some of the more mainstream criminal skills, such as PII or disclosure. Assessors should be alert to the technical and intellectual demands of the sort of work undertaken and the capacity to adapt that to other areas if required
  7. Under no circumstances should an applicant include sensitive case information that can be linked to a specific case or individual. For example, providing a case/defendant/witness name and confirmation that the matter involved a CHIS, protected witnesses, ex parté application or other sensitive hearing. Where this occurs, a score of zero (0) will be given for the relevant section.
  8. Applicants are permitted to use case names and case information in applications and supporting documents where that information is either in the public domain or contained in documents served on the parties to proceedings – court, prosecution and/or defence. Reference to dealing with sensitive information/issues is also permitted provided the case/defendant/witness name(s) cannot be identified. Where sensitive information is contained in a supporting document it must be redacted.
  9. Examples of legal drafting should be no more than five pages and can either be a relevant extract or an entire document. Consideration of document in excess of five pages will be at the discretion of the Assessment Board.

Completion of the assessment forms

19. Assessment Boards are required to make a full and clear note of the evidence supporting their markings, remembering that applicants may be entitled to see comments under the Data Protection Bill 2017.

Written feedback for unsuccessful applicants

20. Where an applicant is unsuccessful, they will be provided with an anonymised copy of their assessment form by way of written feedback. Assessment forms should therefore provide sufficient detail to inform an appeal or future application. Specific comments as to why the criteria are not met and where improvements could be made should be provided against each criterion and in the overall comments box.

21. In circumstances where the Advocate Panel Team consider the Assessment Board’s written feedback to be insufficient, the chair will be invited to provide further detail.


22. Moderation of assessments will be undertaken annually by the Advocate Panel team.

Appointment to the Panel

23. Appointment to the Circuit based panels will be conducted in two phases.

Phase One - appointment at the level applied for (General Crime, RASSO and Specialist Panels excluding Extradition)

24. Applicants must meet the minimum acceptable score in their assessment as follows:

LevelNo. of competenciesMinimum score requiredPass mark
Magistrates' and Youth Court34 (Advocacy) 10
143 (Advocacy and Advisory)12
254 (Advocacy and Advisory)20
354 (Advocacy and Advisory)20
454 (Advocacy and Advisory)22
RASSO34 (All criteria)12

25. Applicants scoring below the acceptable score will not be appointed at that level, even if it means there is a shortfall in advocate numbers.

Phase One - appointment at the level applied for (Extradition)

LevelNo. of competenciesMinimum score requiredPass mark
143 (Advocacy and Advisory)12
244 (Advocacy and Advisory)16
344 (Advocacy and Advisory)16
444 (Advocacy and Advisory)18

Phase Two - appointment at the level below (All new-joiner level 2-4 panel applications excluding RASSO)

26. Applicants applying to join a panel for the first time at level 2, 3 or 4 who fail to meet the minimum acceptable score at the level applied for will be assessed at the next level down and re-scored against the criteria for that level. Comments should be provided on the assessment forms to indicate how the new scores were reached.

27. Applicants scoring below the acceptable score at the next level down will not be offered a place on the Panel and will be required to re-apply.

28. Assessment for the level below should not be conducted for upgrade applications.

29.  For General Crime and RASSO applications, a score awarded for the preferred Circuit will be adopted by all other Circuits applied for. For example, if an applicant applies for the Northern and North Eastern Circuits, with a preference for the Northern Circuit and is scored 20 by the Northern Circuit assessors, then that score will also carry over for both circuits.

Equalities Monitoring

30. Please visit the CPS Advocate Panel webpage for further information relating to Equalities Monitoring.

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