Good Practice Guidance on Certificates for Assigned Advocate in the Youth Court published

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Kate Aubrey-Johnson, convenor of the Garden Court Children's Rights Team, has authored new guidance published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Youth Justice Board (YJB)'s 'Youth Justice: Quality of Advocacy Working Group'.

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The purpose of the new guidance is to increase the number of Certificates for Assigned Advocate granted in the Youth Court. Certificates are granted in unusually grave and difficult cases. The Youth Court deals with complex trials that would be tried in the Crown Court for adults, this additional funding enables children to be represented by a solicitor/litigator and advocate. 

The guidance published by the MoJ/YJB's 'Youth Justice: Quality of Advocacy Working Group' sets out how to apply for Certificates for Assigned Advocates (also known as Certificates for Counsel) and will help ensure consistency of decision making by courts. It is endorsed by the Chief Magistrate, Magistrates’ Association, Criminal Bar Association, The Law Society, Youth Practitioners’ Association, JC Service and the Youth Justice Board.

Chief Magistrate, Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring: 

‘[O]ne way to ensure effective and appropriate representation is to assign experienced (in terms of their Youth Court knowledge, not necessarily their call), specially trained counsel and advocates to the case, through a certificate for an assigned advocate, this is achieved by extending the Representation Order to cover both the solicitor and an assigned advocate to represent the defendant. 

Defendants deserve this, but so do complainants and witnesses. The damage and stress that can be caused by inappropriate questioning of a complainant or witness should not be underestimated and so the use of certificates and the appropriate use of advocates with the necessary skills and training are essential to ensure fair and efficient justice.”

Tana Adkin KC, Chair of the Criminal Bar Association:

‘A consistent approach to granting Certificates for Counsel paves the way for children facing serious cases [in the Youth Court] to be represented by experienced counsel. Similarly, it should ensure that barristers wishing to specialise in representing children can build a sustainable practice and career.’

Click here to download the new guidance.

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