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.

Please also see the Rule C4 advice note on our Rules and guidance page which contains further detail on relevant experience.

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 relevant to criminal 2021 applications has now passed. 

Application forms should be completed as fully and legibly as possible.

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 application you will be invoiced for the application fee of £450. If a purchase order number requires to be cited on your invoice please advise of this when submitting your application.

Candidates should state the names 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 or Advocate but should not be a business partner, employer or client. All candidates should obtain consent from their referees prior to nominating them.

The reference request will ask a referee to speak to how well they know the applicant and their impression of an applicant’s work with reference to professional competence, preparedness and professional competence. The referee will also be asked, based on their knowledge of the applicant, do they consider that the applicant would be adequately experienced to meet the relevant standards within the Statement of Standards of Solicitor Advocates.

The information to be given in part three 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 the outcome or to forward background papers in connection with the case. If the hearing lasted more than one day, the duration would also be helpful. Applicants should provide further detail of their participation in at least two cases that can demonstrate their potential for compliance with the standards of a solicitor advocate and that the applicant is sufficient experienced to undertake a higher course of training.

The Rights of Audience Sub-Committee will consider all applications for entry to a course of training. The Sub-Committee will sift those applications to determine which applicants may be admitted to the course taking into consideration that the courses are not entry level courses. In doing so the Sub-Committee will notify applicants of the outcome of that sifting with relevant reasoning provided.

Following successful admission onto the course of training, 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+VAT. Payment is required in one lump sum prior to the course commencing via credit or debit card, or through invoice. Please note that the course of training fees are separate to the application and exam enrolment fees set out elsewhere on this web page.
Sitting-In

Each candidate is required to complete six days of sitting-in. The breakdown of these six days should consist of:

Four days criminal appeals (three days in Conviction Appeal Court and one day in Sentence Appeal Court) and two days preliminary hearing.

For sitting-in you need to attend the court hearing (remotely if required). You will need to complete sitting in cards as required to evidence your sitting in. The business of the court is available on their website.

Sitting-In must be completed before the final oral assessment on the course of training.

The criminal rights of audience training course

The criminal training course and assessments takes place over three weekends:

  • Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 August 2021
  • Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September 2021
  • Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 October 2021

The first two weekends consists of various presentations and tutorials from both the bench and experienced solicitor advocates. Topics covered include preliminary hearings, prior statements, presenting criminal appeals, advocacy-using witnesses, taking evidence on commission, vulnerable witnesses and High Court etiquette. There are also practical exercises and mock oral assessments with feedback, prior to the final assessments. Candidates will be issued materials in advance of the course and expected to prepare for some of the sessions at the training course.

The final oral assessments take place on 2 and 3 October. Candidates will be requested to attend for assessment on one of these days. Candidates will be assessed on their advocacy skills against the relevant standards of The Statement of Standards for Solicitor Advocates on both a first instance exercise and an appeal.

Course conveners are Iain McSporran QC and John Keenan.

Further information on the course of training can be found on our Next Steps – Rights of Audience page.

Exams

The criminal rights of audience exam diet is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 23 November 2021. Each diet will consist of two exams (1) Professional Conduct, which will last for two hours, usually from 10.00 am until 12 noon and (2) Practice and Procedure which will last for two and a half hours from 1.30 pm until 4.00 pm. Examination books are provided at the venue. There is a £100 enrolment fee for each of the exams.

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 of our website.

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.

Candidates can request past papers prior to the exam.

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% and it is not intended to hold oral examinations.