The application process for civil rights of audience is now open. Applications will close on Wednesday, 27 October 2021. An overview of the process is set out below, however applicants must also familiarise themselves with the Standards of a Solicitor Advocate and the relevant Rules and the Advice and Information note on C4.1/4.2: Acquiring Rights of Audience.

How much experience do I need to apply?

Applicants 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 Law Society Council with regard to experience.

Relevant experience means experience of proofs, debates or appeals in the Sheriff Court for those seeking the Right of Audience in the Court of Session etc.

Applicants 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

Prior to making an application, an applicant is required 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 one provider jointly with the Society. Please note there will be no further Introductory Courses prior to applications closing for the 2021/22 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 to DavidMacdougall@lawscot.org.uk. 

Upon receipt of your completed application, an invoice will be raised for the application fee of £450. If a purchase order number requires to be cited on the invoice, please provide the number in the cover email for your application.

Applicants should state the names and email addresses of two individuals from whom the Law Society can obtain a reference. One of the referees should be a sheriff or other person acting in a judicial capacity (eg chair of a tribunal / panel) before whom the candidate has appeared. The other referee can be a solicitor but should not be a business partner, employer or client. Referees should be able to speak to select cases which applicants consider demonstrate their most proficient Court work as detailed in their application. Reference to relevant cases should be made when providing referee details in the application form. For civil applications one of the referees should be able to speak to written pleadings / submissions made by the applicant. All applicants should obtain consent from referee before nominating them.

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.

Sitting-In

Once your application form has been received and you have been advised that you have been admitted as a candidate to the course of training you will receive your Sitting-In Card and further information about the course.

Each candidate is required to undertake 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 their firm or their employer does not act for any of the parties, save in exceptional circumstances, such as members of the Procurator Fiscal Service. Information regarding remote sitting in will be provided.

Arranging your Sitting-In

Sitting-In is arranged through our 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.

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 for Civil Sitting-In.  We will invoice you for this payment when you are issued your Sitting-In card.

The civil rights of audience training course

Dates for the 2022 civil course are as follows:

  • 28 & 29 January 2022
  • 19 & 20 February 2022
  • 19 & 20 March 2022

Course of training fees

Following success at the sifting stage of the process, you will be invited to register for the course of training 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+VAT. Payment is required in one lump sum prior to the course commencing via credit or debit card or through invoice.

Candidates must attend all dates of training.

There are two elements of assessment in the civil course of training: written and oral. The course includes a 'takeaway' assessment to be completed independently and one day of written assessments held on a weekday. The final assessment for oral submissions are held on the last day of the course and candidates are only required to attend a specified time slot on that day.
The course includes mock oral assessments with feedback, prior to the final assessments. This has proven very useful to candidates in the past.

The 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.

This is held approximately 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 materials 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.


Please note the course is not designed to teach you to draft written pleadings.

Exams

The exam diet is held each year at the Law Society's office in Edinburgh. 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 £100 enrolment fee for each of these exams.

Candidates can request past papers prior to the exam.

Exam Rules

For the Professional Conduct exam, candidates are not allowed to take any materials 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 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%.