How much experience do I need to apply?

Candidates who have not had relevant experience of court work as an admitted solicitor for five years prior to submitting an application may be unable to satisfy the Council with regard to experience.

Relevant experience means experience of solemn trials in the Sheriff Court for those seeking the Right of Audience in the High Court.

Candidates who have been practising members of the Faculty of Advocates may count their experience in that capacity. The Council will, in exceptional cases, consider experience for solicitors who have been practising members of the bar in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or another Member State of the European Union; or who have had relevant experience of court work as a solicitor in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or another jurisdiction.

The application process

Application forms should be completed as fully and legibly as possible. If the information given is not sufficient, this may lead to a delay while further information is sought.

The form may either be typed or handwritten – please note, the form is required to be signed by the candidate upon completion. Once completed, please submit your application by email or post to DavidMacdougall@lawscot.org.uk:

David Macdougall
The Law Society of Scotland
Atria One
144 Morrison Street
Edinburgh
EH3 8EX

and pay the application fee of £300.

Candidates should state the names, full postal addresses and email addresses of two individuals from whom the Society can obtain a reference. One of the referees should be a Sheriff or other member of the Judiciary before whom the candidate has appeared. The other referee can be a solicitor but should not be a business partner, employer or client. All candidates should advise their referees that they are giving their names for this purpose.

The information to be given in Part 3 of the application form about relevant experience should be restricted to cases in which a trial, proof, debate or appeal to the Sheriff Principal has taken place. Experience in other courts (including the court for which any candidates are seeking Rights of Audience) should be included in the section "Other Experience". Candidates should restrict themselves to cases which have been set down for trial, proof, debate or appeal as the case may be. Cases which have not yet reached that stage should not be included. Candidates should indicate the role in which they were involved including whether they have appeared personally in the Court of Session either in Chambers or at the Vacation Court.

Information to be given about any case should include the name, the court in which it took place, the year in which it was heard, and whether the hearing was a trial, proof, debate or appeal. It is not necessary to advise of the outcome nor to forward background papers in connection with the case. If the hearing lasted more than one day, the duration would also be helpful.

Following successful processing of your application, you will be asked to register for the course via our online registration form.  It is here that we will ask you for payment of the course fees.

The course fees are £3,000 plus VAT.  Payment is required in one lump sum prior to the course commencing via credit or debit card or through invoice. Alternatively you can post a cheque for the full amount made payable to the Law Society of Scotland.

Sitting-In

Once your application form has been received you will receive further information about the course, including your Sitting-In Card.

Each candidate is required to do six days sitting in in the Court of Session (of which four days must be Inner House). Candidates with experience of these Courts are entitled to seek exemption but will normally require to undertake Sitting-In for four Court days including at least two days in the Inner House/Appeal Court.

Sitting-In means attendance at the Court in Edinburgh at the hearing of a case or cases in which the candidate or his firm or his employer does not act for any of the parties, save in exceptional circumstances, such as members of the Procurator Fiscal Service.

Arranging your Sitting-In

Sitting-In is arranged through the Society's Administration Officer - currently Mrs. Christine Wilcox at the SSC Library in Parliament House (Tel: 0131 225 6268 – Email: christine@ssclibrary.co.uk).

The SSC Library is open from 9.30am until 4.00pm and calls to make arrangements for Sitting-In should be made within those hours.

Due to the volume of copying involved in providing papers, and the notification to be given to court staff, it is essential that the Administration Officer is given 48 hours’ notice of intention to undertake Sitting-In on a particular day. Those giving shorter notice can only be accommodated in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Administration Officer.
Sitting-In must be completed before the final oral assessment.

There will be a fee of £200 for the administration and copying of papers for Civil Sitting-In.  The Law Society will invoice you for this payment when you are issued your Sitting-In card.

The civil rights of audience training course

The course is held at the Law Society of Scotland office and includes various talks and tutorials from the bench, the bar and experienced solicitor advocates. It is held over three weekends spanning three months, beginning in either January or February.

Essentially, there are two elements assessed: written and oral. The course includes a 'takeaway' assessment to be completed independently and one day of written assessments held on a weekday at the Society. The last weekend will form the final assessment for oral submissions and candidates are only required to attend a specified time slot on one of the two days.

The course includes mock oral assessments with feedback, prior to the final assessments. This has proven very useful to candidates in the past.

Convener of the course is Craig Connal QC. Read the note from our convener, outlining the course objectives.

Candidates are asked to present oral argument in a Reclaiming Motion from papers, usually comprising a reported decision at first instance and three or four of the authorities cited before the Lord Ordinary which are thought to be potentially relevant.  That is to be prepared as if a full Reclaiming Motion was required, albeit in practice candidates will be allowed around 40 minutes or so to present parts of that to two "real" judges.  Precisely the same standard applies, ie. that of the reasonably competent pleader.

In neither written nor oral work is knowledge of any particular specialist area of substantive law examined.  Candidates will not be faulted because they do not know the most recent case on restrictive covenants or remoteness of loss.  A general grasp of legal concepts is, however, required because candidates are expected to have sufficient ability to be able to take the materials given and deal with them, even if they lie outwith that candidate's particular selected specialism.  Indeed, assessors frequently look for candidates to demonstrate that they have clearly understood the issues when presenting their written or oral response.

It is quite possible that in the written assessment, the oral assessment, or both, the exercises will involve an area of law with which the candidate is unfamiliar in their own practice.

Candidates will be asked to produce a draft Summons, Defences and Minute of Amendment from materials provided, in an open book examination setting.  The standard is of a reasonably competent pleader in the Court of Session.

This is held c.one week after the first course weekend (usually on a Monday). Exam booklets will be provided for each candidate. Candidates may also choose to use a laptop to type their written assessment (Wi-Fi must be disabled).  If candidates are using a laptop the open book setting extends to documents saved on their laptop.

In addition, candidates will be asked to produce a set of Grounds of Appeal for the Inner House in a Reclaiming Motion from a reported Outer House case.  This is to be done by a given deadline but outwith the formal course environment, ie. in the office or in the candidate's own time.  The same standard of competence applies.

Please note the course is not designed to teach you to draft written pleadings.  If you feel you are not familiar with drafting in Ordinary Court actions it is advised that you considering getting practice in writing.

Exams

The exam diet is held each year at the Law Society of Scotland office. Each diet will consist of two exams (1) Professional Conduct, which will last for two hours, usually from 10.00 a.m. until 12 noon and (2) Practice and Procedure which will last for two and a half hours from 1.30 p.m. until 4.00 p.m. Examination books are provided at the venue.  There is a £75 enrolment fee for each of these exams.

Candidates can request past papers prior to the exam.

Exam Rules

For the Professional Conduct examination, candidates are not allowed to take any books in.  This is a closed book exam.

Candidates are expected to have extensive knowledge of Rule C4.3 Order of Precedence, Instructions and Representation and Rule C4.4 Conduct of Solicitor Advocates.  Copies of these Rules are NOT allowed to be used in the exam.  Candidates are not expected to remember the numbers of the various Rules.

Candidates are also expected to also have knowledge of general principles of professional ethics and the standards set out in Rule B1 Standards of Conduct.All of these rules can be accessed in the rules and guidance section.

The Practice and Procedure examination is an “open book” exam. This means that candidates are allowed to bring and use any published un-annotated books and case reports printed from the Scottish Courts website.

The completed examination scripts will be passed to the relevant examiner and all candidates will be advised in writing of the result as soon as possible. In both examinations the pass mark will be 50%.