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Advocate Panels - 2018 Specialist Panels

This page provides details to assist the application process for inclusion in the Specialist Panels, including Counter Terrorism, Extradition, Fraud, Proceeds of Crime and the Serious Crime Group. Please select the appropriate section. All applications for the Panels must now be made via the Application Portal, which can be accessed from the main Advocate Panels page.

Guidance and the Application Process - Specialist Panels

The current iteration of the Specialist Panels runs from 2018 to 2022.

The aim is to appoint advocates to the Specialist Panels who have met the respective 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.

Prospective applicants are strongly advised to read the following documents which set out the Panel arrangements and application process.

Specialist Panels Application/Upgrade Process (updated September 2020)

This document describes the separate CPS Specialist Advocate Panels processes which applicants must follow in respect of:

  • Permanent membership - applications to join the five Specialist Panels
  • Upgrading - applications from existing members to upgrade their level on the Specialist Panels
  • Further information - in respect of the following:
    • References
    • Submission of applications
    • Equalities Monitoring

2. This document does not relate to the CPS Advocate Panel for General Crime and Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List for which separate arrangements are in place. For further information, please visit the CPS website.

Introduction

3. All advocates applying to join a Specialist Panel or upgrade their level must meet the selection criteria relevant to each of the five Specialist Panels.

4. All applicants appointed to the Panel must agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment.

5. Applicants who join will be appointed for the duration of the Panel. The 2018 Specialist Panel is expected to run for four years to 2022. CPS has discretion to amend the duration but will only do so in consultation with the Bar Council and Law Society.

6. An annual application/upgrade window will be open in September each year. The CPS can hold the window at another period at its discretion.

7.The application process will be open and transparent and provide equal opportunity for all applicants. There will be no quotas in respect of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age or disability for candidates being appointed onto the Panel.

Membership - Applications to join the Specialist Panels

8. Applicants applying to join one or more Specialist Panel must complete and submit a separate online application for each, relevant to the corresponding selection criteria. There are five Specialist Panels, as follows:

  • Counter Terrorism Panel - levels 3 and 4 only
  • Extradition Panel - levels 1, 2, 3 and 4
  • Fraud Panel (including fiscal fraud) - level 2, 3 and 4
  • Proceeds of Crime Panel - levels 2, 3 and 4
  • Serious Crime Group Panel - levels 2, 3 and 4

9. New applicants must determine for each application which level they wish to apply for and apply for one level only. Where there is a level below, the application will automatically be considered for the next level down if it is unsuccessful at the level applied for.

10. Applicants must carefully consider which level to apply for based on their own assessment of their ability and experience.

11. Applications will be assessed on the content of the application form, examples of work and written references. There will be no interview or other test as part of the assessment process.

12. It is important that applicants take time and care when completing their application form. In doing so, applicants should refer to all of the available guidance.

13. Please note:

  • Incomplete or late applications will not be assessed
  • Paper submissions are not acceptable
  • Email submissions will not be accepted.
  • Word limits must be observed  
  • Sensitive identifying case information must not be included. Where sensitive information is contained in a supporting document it must be redacted. If sensitive information is included, the applicant will score zero for the relevant section.

14. Each applicant applying to join the Specialist Panels must submit, via the application portal, an application together with supporting material, where required, and ensure the application is complete with the required number of completed references. A separate application is required for each Specialist Panel. As part of the application process, applicants must also complete equalities monitoring questions.

15. All successful applicants must sign-up to use secure email as a condition of being appointed to the Panel. CJSM accounts should be accessed regularly to ensure they are not disabled allowing for communications from the CPS to be received.

Pre-Qualification Questions

16. All new applicants must answer pre-qualification questions as part of the application process. Further details can be found on the pre-qualification section of the website.

Applications to join the Extradition Panel at level 1

17. Applications to join the current Extradition Panel at level 1 can be submitted any time, provided the applicant meets the relevant selection criteria.

18. An application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 1 consists of the following:

  • Completed Level 1 Extradition Panel online application form including equalities monitoring questions (not part of the assessment but must be completed)
  • A reference from an appropriate referee using the online system.

19. Applicants for level 1 should have one reference. An appropriate referee might be a head of chambers, chambers advocacy trainer or a CPS lawyer who has seen the applicant perform advocacy.

Applications to join the Specialist Panels at Level 2, 3 and 4

20. New applicants can apply to join the current Specialist Panel at levels 2, 3 or 4 during the annual application window each September using the online Application portal.

21. Level 2 - an application to join any of the Specialist Panels for the first time at Level 2 consists of the following:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 online application including equalities monitoring questions (not part of the assessment but must be completed)
  • References from two (2) appropriate referees using the application portal
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages) to be attached to online application.

22. Level 2 applicants should have two references. There is no requirement to submit a judicial reference in support of applications to join at Level 2. Please see the requirements below regarding upgrade applications.

23. Level 2 applications are not accepted in respect of the Counter Terrorism Specialist Panel.

24. Level 3 - An application to join any of the Specialist Panels at Level 3 consists of the following:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form including equalities monitoring questions (not part of the assessment but must be completed)
  • References from two (2) appropriate referees using application portal
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages) to be attached to online application.

25. Level 3 applicants should have two references with at least one from a member of the full-time judiciary.

26. Level 4 - an application to join any of the Specialist Panels for the first time at Level 4 consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form including equalities monitoring questions (not part of the assessment but must be completed)
  • References from three (3) appropriate referees using application portal
  • Two (2) recent examples of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages) to be attached to online application.

27. Level 4 applicants should have three references. At least one reference, but no more than two, should be from members of the full-time judiciary. Applicants with significant prosecuting experience should provide at least one reference from an instructing lawyer.  However, if you have not undertaken a significant amount of prosecuting work and are unable to supply such a reference, this does not prevent you from applying. Please see the requirements below regarding upgrade applications.

Upgrading - Applications for upgrading to levels 2, 3 or 4

28. Members of a Specialist Panel can apply to be upgraded to level 3 or 4 during the annual window by submitting an online upgrade application form.

29. Applicants who are successful in their upgrade applications will be permitted to apply to upgrade their level again during the next application window if they feel they meet the selection criteria for the level to which they wish to upgrade.

30. An application to upgrade to Level 2 (Extradition Panel Only), Level 3 or 4 consists of the following:

  • Completed and submitted online upgrade application
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages) to be attached to online application
  • Level 4 only - one (1) optional reference using the online portal.

31. The online form has sections in relation to the five selection criteria and maximum words counts will apply.

32. The process for upgrading requires applicants to provide demonstrable evidence of improvement since being appointed to their current level and how they now meet the selection criteria for the level applied for in relation to:

  • Advocacy
  • Advisory work
  • Experience of dealing with PII issues and Disclosure of unused material
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • Appreciation of the role of a Panel advocate

33. Since applicants for upgrading will have met the application requirements for their existing level, an abbreviated application process will apply for the upgrade exercise. This removes the need for applicants to provide details of pre-qualification issues and reduces the requirement for references in support of the application.

Further Information

References

34. New applicants should secure referees in accordance with the guidance. Although not an exhaustive list, the table below provides examples of appropriate referees at each level.

Level 1 Level 2Levels 3 and 4
  • Pupil Supervisor
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Chambers
  • Advocacy Trainers
  • CPS Lawyer
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Chambers Advocacy Trainer
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors
  • Current or retired members of the full-time judiciary
  • Members of the part-time judiciary
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or Opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors

35. PLEASE NOTE:  It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all references are submitted to the CPS in accordance with the guidance no later than the deadline date. The Advocate Panel team will not contact referees to request or chase references on behalf of the applicant. Accordingly, applicants should ensure that potential referees are given sufficient notice (28 days) of what they are required to provide and the date the applicant requires the reference.

36. An instructing member of the CPS may compose a reference for an Advocate Panel applicant. However, 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 referred to either the local Area CCP, or someone delegated by the CCP, for approval. Applicants should confirm with the CPS member of staff that they have submitted the reference.

37. Information for referees can be found in the Explanatory Note to Referees.

Submission of applications

38. The application form and all supporting documentation, including references, should be submitted using the application portal.

Summary of Application Process

1. Applicants can apply for a place on one or more of the following Specialist Panels:

  • Counter Terrorism Panel
  • Extradition Panel
  • Fraud Panel (including fiscal fraud)
  • Proceeds of Crime Panel
  • Serious Crime Group Panel

2. Applicants will apply by completing and submitting an online application form via the portal, together with any supporting documents. References will also be submitted via the portal.

3. Applications and references are submitted centrally via the Application Portal to the Advocate Panel team in HQ Operations with the assessment of applications undertaken by Casework Divisions.

Assessors and Assessment Boards

Extradition Panel - Level 1 assessments

4. Applications to join the Extradition Panel at Level 1 will be assessed by a single member of the CPS Extradition Unit.

Levels 2, 3, 4

5. Assessment Boards will be conducted for applicants wishing to apply at levels 2, 3 or 4 or to upgrade their level.

6. Assessment Boards should be diverse and consist of a minimum of three members, comprising CPS colleagues from the Central Casework Divisions and Proceeds of Crime and, wherever possible, a representative from the Bar.

7. Assessment Boards will only proceed with two members where, due to a conflict of interest, a member has had to recuse themselves from the assessment process. 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. Although this should not now occur as application forms are anonymised, a referee may inadvertently use a name that can identify an applicant.

8. 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.

Assessment of applications

Assessment criteria

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. The criteria for assessment will fall under the following headings and carry equal weight:

  • Advocacy
  • Advisory Work
  • PII and disclosure*
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • Understanding the role of a CPS Specialist Panel Advocate

(* PLEASE NOTE: PII and disclosure is not a criterion for the Extradition Panel)

Scoring Framework

12. Assessment Boards will review each application against the criteria, which are particularised on the assessment form. The selection criteria need to be scored as to the level of skill/experience/response each applicant has, or has made, in relation to the type of work expected at that level. Assessment boards are asked to arrive at a points score within each level.

13. The response for each of the criterion will be scored between 0 and 30 based on the specific requirements of the relevant selection criteria in the context of the casework for the level applied for. For example, overall advocacy experience markings would be awarded as follows:

High (range 21 – 30 points) - applicant whose ability, knowledge and experience, as evidenced by the application form and references, is very strong in most or all of the competency requirements, relevant to criminal work at this level, spans a range of Courts and casework and demonstrates that lessons have been learned from that experience.

Medium (range 11 – 20 points) - applicant whose ability, knowledge and experience, as evidenced by the application form and references, is strong, spans a range of Courts and demonstrates that lessons have been learned, but could not be regarded as anything other than ordinarily strong at this level in most or all of these requirements.

Low (range 0 – 10 points) - applicant whose ability, knowledge and experience, as evidenced by the application form and references, clearly does not appear to meet one or more of the requirements (not plentiful or relevant, does not span a range of Courts and does not demonstrate that lessons have been learned).

14. Applicants are asked to reference their answers to criminal law and, where appropriate, civil law. If they have no knowledge, skills or experience in this area they are invited to give examples of analogous knowledge, skills or experience 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.

15. 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.

16. Assessors need to be aware that:

  • The word limit for each section of the application form is deliberately very tight;
  • Applicants are expected to focus on their ability and experience and analyse it constructively;
  • 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;
  • Applicants have been asked to select referees on the basis of who can say most about their competencies. Whilst references from instructing solicitors are helpful, do not overlook references from judges, leaders, opponents etc.
  • Applicants who have a predominantly defence practice should be able to demonstrate transferable skills and knowledge, and
  • 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.
  • Should an applicant reference sensitive identifying information in an example given for PII and disclosure section or any other, or in their supporting documentation they will receive a score of zero for that section. The applicant should be notified of the breach and all copies should be redacted / deleted immediately.
  • Examples of legal drafting should be no more than 5 pages and can either be a relevant extract or an entire document. Consideration of document in excess of 5 pages will be at the discretion of the Assessment Board.

Completion of the assessment forms

17. 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

18. 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.

19. 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.

Moderation

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

Appointment to the Panel

21. Appointment to the Specialist Panels will be conducted in two phases.

Phase One

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

Level Extradition PanelAll other Specialist Panels
140 points (out of a maximum of 120)N/A
264 points (out of a maximum of 120)80 points (out of a maximum of 150)
364 points (out of a maximum of 120)80 points (out of a maximum of 150)
472 points (out of a maximum of 120)90 points (out of a maximum of 150)

23. 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 Two

24. Applicants 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.

25. Applicants scoring below the acceptable score at the next level down will not be offered a place on the Specialist Panel.

Equalities Monitoring

26. From September 2020, the application process will be anonymous. Assessment boards will no longer be able to see any personal details for applicants unless inadvertently included by a referee.

27. 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 are required to complete an Equality Monitoring Questionnaire.

28. 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’.

29. 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
  • Foster good relations between different groups

30. 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.

31. 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.

32. 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.

33. The data we collect is used for statistical analysis and will not impact on whether or not an applicant is successful in their application. All applications will be judged solely on merit.

Assessment Monitoring Form (internal use only) Counter Terrorism

Applications to join the Specialist Panel for Counter Terrorism at levels 3 or 4 can be submitted during the annual application window each September.  

All advocates appointed to join the Panel must meet the relevant selection criteria and agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment.

Documents:

Extradition

Applications to join the current Extradition Panel at level 1 can be submitted any time, provided the applicant meets the relevant selection criteria.

Documents:


Applications to join the Specialist Panel for Extradition at levels 2, 3 or 4 can be submitted during the annual application window each September.

All advocates appointed to join the Panel must meet the relevant selection criteria and agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment.

Documents:

Fraud Panel

Applications to join the Specialist Panel for Fraud at levels 2, 3 or 4 can be submitted during the annual application window each September.

All advocates appointed to join the Panel must meet the relevant selection criteria and agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment.

Documents:

Proceeds of Crime Panel

Applications to join the Specialist Panel for Proceeds of Crime at levels 2, 3 or 4 can be submitted during the annual application window each September.

All advocates appointed to join the Panel must meet the relevant selection criteria and agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment.

Documents:

Serious Crime Group Panel

Applications to join the Specialist Panel for Serious Crime at levels 2, 3 or 4 can be submitted during the annual application window each September.  

All advocates appointed to join the Panel must meet the relevant selection criteria and agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment.

Documents:

Specialist Panels Upgrade Application

Existing permanent members of the CPS Specialist Advocate Panel can apply to be upgraded by one level on the respective Panels, to level 2, 3 or 4, during the annual application each September.

Applicants are required to provide evidence of improvement since being appointed to their current level and demonstrate how they now meet the selection criteria for the next level.

Appeals Process

Applicants who have received the outcome of their application will have been advised whether they were successful or unsuccessful for the level applied for. Where the applicant was unsuccessful for either the level applied for or the next level down they may appeal.

Documents:

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