This page will contain up to date information as it becomes available on the requirements of the proposed amendment rules as they affect:

- all Solicitor Advocates in relation to CPD requirements
- prospective applicants for extended rights of audience in relation to process and requirements.

The Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules (Amendment Rules) No 4 2019

The Amendment Rules amend Rule C4 in relation to the process and criteria for granting both civil and criminal extended rights of audience and require mandatory CPD for all Solicitor Advocates. Read the Amendment Rules here.

The draft Amendment Rules were shared with the AGM in 2017, approved by the Lord President in 2018 and Scottish Ministers (following consultation with the Competition and Markets Authority) in 2019.

The Amendment Rules will come into operation in a staggered manner.  The amendment to Rule C4.4 requiring mandatory Solicitor Advocate CPD come into operation on1 December 2019.  See below regarding guidance for Solicitor Advocate CPD. Amendments to the process and criteria for granting rights of audience come into operation on 1 January 2020 for criminal rights of audience (Practice Rule C4.2) and on 1 July 2020 for civil rights of audience (Practice Rule C4.3). Guidance on the new process and criteria will be notified to the profession in due course.

Mandatory Solicitor Advocate CPD Requirements

The mandatory Solicitor Advocate CPD requirements will come into effect on 1 December 2019. This constitutes a formal CPD requirement. The CPD pages explain the requirements in more detail. Please also read the guidance to accompany the CPD requirement for solicitor advocates.

Rights of Audience working party and recommendations

The Rights of Audience working party drafted proposed amendments of Rule C4 of the Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules 2011 to facilitate an improved application process and better continuing quality assurance of Solicitor Advocates.

We established the Rights of Audience working party to review procedures and standards for Solicitor Advocates.

  • To consider and make recommendations regarding the proposed ‘standards of the competent pleader’ with reference to the standard expected of applicants for extended rights of audience and the maintaining of standards among those already qualified.
  • To review and make recommendations regarding the application process for extended rights of audience - including considering changes to the Law Society’s application forms, guidance and reference request process.
  • To consider and make recommendations regarding the continuing quality assurance of Solicitor Advocates.
  • A member of our Council
  • A member of the our Education and Training Sub-Committee
  • A member of our Rights of Audience Sub-Committee
  • At least two members of the Society of Solicitor Advocates (at least one civil, one criminal)
  • The current course conveners (civil and criminal)
  • Working party secretary: Law Society of Scotland accreditation manager

The working party finalised the Statement of Standards for Solicitor Advocates. These standards provide a list of performance indicators which form the basis for assessment under the Law Society of Scotland Rights of Audience Requirements and Rules.

All Solicitor Advocates must be competent in each of these at the level required to practise effectively in the courts in which extended Rights of Audience are granted. Applicants seeking extended Rights of Audience are required to be able to demonstrate and evidence competence of these over the course of the assessment process.

In relation to applying for extended Rights of Audience and having considered the current process and determined how it could be improved to ensure that the standard of applicants coming forward for extended rights of audience are suitably experienced members of the profession; and established the need for focused CPD requirements for all Solicitor Advocates to ensure the ongoing good quality of work, the Working Party recommended the following three changes:

1. Attending a mandatory introductory course prior to making an application

The working party had in mind liaison between the Law Society and the Society of Solicitor Advocates who have successfully run a relevant and established course for several years.

The purpose of the introductory course is to explain the application process and the standards and training required in obtaining Rights of Audience. The intention is that this will assist potential candidates to understand the process and critically self-appraise whether they have the necessary relevant experience to apply for the course of training for the relevant extended Rights of Audience, bearing in mind that it is not an entry level course and the applicant will be required to demonstrate a degree of experience

2. Greater emphasis on the sifting process

A panel consisting of professional members of the Rights of Audience sub-committee will determine whether the applicant has the necessary experience to be admitted to the course of training for the relevant Rights of Audience sought, including the taking up of references at this stage.

3. Targeted CPD requirement for those already qualified

Introduction of a requirement that all practising Solicitor Advocates complete 10 hours of “targeted” CPD, (CPD related to their practice as a Solicitor Advocate) and that a record of that CPD is submitted to the Law Society annually, In the interests of maintaining standards among those already qualified.