Criminal rights of audience 2021 applications are now open and will close on Friday 16 April.

Applications for criminal rights of audience and admittance onto the criminal course of training 2021 are now open. Please submit your application by 17:00 on Friday 16 April 2021 at the latest. Please see here for further details on criminal rights of audience including process, course dates, fees and application forms.

The Statement of Standards for Solicitor Advocates - performance indicators

The Statement of Standards for Solicitor Advocates – Performance Indicators form the basis for assessment under the Law Society of Scotland Rights of Audience Requirements and Rules. A solicitor advocate must be competent in each of these at the level required to practice effectively in the Courts to which rights of audience are sought.

Candidates are required to be able to demonstrate and evidence competence of these over the course of the assessment process.

Solicitor advocates must also perform to the standard set out relevant to their practice.

The process of obtaining extended rights of audience

All applicants should be aware that the whole process from applications opening to obtaining extended rights of audience can take up to twelve months. The rule changes relating to obtaining rights of audience have been  effective from 1 January 2020 and 1 July 2020 for criminal and civil rights of audience respectively. There are various processes of application, assessment and acceptance that prospective candidates must undergo before they are permitted to exercise their rights of audience. In addition, applicants seeking rights of audience will require to attend a compulsory Introductory course prior to submitting an application. 

Please note further information and relevant rules on civil and criminal rights of audience are available in the rules and guidance sections under Rule C.3 and the dedicated pages for the civil and criminal rights of audience processes at the bottom of this page.

The amendments to Rules C4.1 and C4.2 came into operation on 1 July and 1 January 2020 respectively. The amendments require that applicants seeking extended rights of audience will require to undertake an introductory course prior to application and applications for admission onto the course of training will be sifted by the Rights of Audience Sub-Committee. 

Prior to making an application for criminal or civil rights of audience, an applicant will require to attend an introductory course. The introductory course is a course of practical training explaining the application process, the standards and training required in obtaining a right of audience in the court the duration, form and content of which shall be prescribed by the Council from time to time. A provider of the introductory course must ensure that the course complies with the duration form and content of the course as prescribed by Council from time to time. The course is currently only offered by the Society of Solicitor Advocates. Anyone looking to submit an application to a course of training should have attended an introductory course.

All applicants must submit an application form and the appropriate application fee to us. References will be sought and thereafter the Rights of Audience Sub Committee will sift applications to determine which applicants may be admitted to the course of training taking into consideration that the courses are not entry level courses. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of that sifting with relevant reasoning provided.  Successful applicants will be granted a Sitting-In card and sent details of the course of training and assessment and details of subsequent practice and procedure and professional conduct exams.

There is usually one exam diet per year that candidates are able to undertake. There are two exams for all candidates, one on the practice and procedure of the relevant courts and one on professional conduct. The exams usually take place over the course of one day at our offices.

The structure of the courses differ for criminal and civil rights of audience training. Candidates must have recorded six days experience of Sitting-In to become familiar with court procedure before completion of the course, although Sitting-In prior to commencing the course would be beneficial.

The courses take place over several weeks (usually at weekends) which all candidates must make themselves available for as all elements of the training must be completed. The civil course is assessed by way of both oral and written assessments and the criminal course is assessed by way of an oral assessment.  As mentioned above these are not entry level courses.

Following applications closing and receipt of relevant references the Rights of Audience Sub Committee will consider applications with a view to determining those who may be admitted to the course of training.

Following a candidate's successful completion of the required Sitting-In, course of training and assessments, and the practice and procedure and professional conduct exams, and taking into account the fitness and properness of the applicant, the Rights of Audience Sub-Committee will determine whether an applicant is granted extended rights of audience under Section 25A Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

This is the final stage of the process. This is a ceremony where the President of the Law Society of Scotland will introduce new solicitor advocates to the court. It is not possible to exercise extended rights of audience before being introduced to court.

Advice and information

Rules and guidance around acquiring rights of audience in Scotland, including the Queen's Counsel in Scotland.

Rule C4 for Solicitor Advocates

Rights of audience in the civil and criminal courts; order of precedence, instructions and representation; conduct of Solicitor Advocates.

Forms and fees

How to apply for extended rights of audience in civil and criminal courts.