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.
All applicants should be aware that the whole process to obtain extended rights of audience can take around nine to twelve months. The rule change relating to obtaining criminal rights of audience is effective from 1 January 2020. The rule change relating to obtaining civil rights of audience is effective from 1 July 2020. 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 criminal rights of audience will require to attend a compulsory Introductory course prior to submitting an application.
Going forward, anyone looking to make an application for criminal or civil rights of audience will require to have undertaken 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. The course is currently only offered by one provider jointly with the Society. The Society of Solicitor Advocates will be running an introductory course on Friday 6 March 2020. Anyone looking to submit an application in 2020 should attend this course. Further details can be found here.
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 a candidate's completion of the required Sitting-In and the successful completion of the course of training including obtaining passes in the oral and, where relevant, written assessments, and the 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.