Higher rights of audience
Last updated 12 February 2013
Solicitors and registered European lawyers (RELs) are granted rights of audience in all courts when they are admitted or registered. However, they cannot exercise those rights in the higher courts until they have complied with additional assessment requirements. We set the competence standards solicitor and REL higher court advocates must meet and maintain, authorise assessment organisations to test people against those standards, and set the regulations under which this scheme operates.
The SRA Higher Rights of Audience Regulations 2011 forms part of the SRA Handbook.
How does the scheme work?
- There are separate awards for rights of audience for criminal and civil advocacy.
- There is only one route to qualification in either civil or criminal proceedings.
- The scheme requires all applicants to pass an advocacy assessment based on the SRA's higher rights of audience competence standards.
- There are separate assessments for criminal and civil procedures.
- There is no mandatory training or experience requirement.
- Assessments under the scheme are run by assessment organisations authorised by the SRA.
- Barristers who transfer to the roll of solicitors take their existing higher rights with them.
- Solicitors who gained rights of audience qualifications under previous regulations were automatically passported onto the scheme in 2010 and retained their existing rights.
Frequently asked questions
General questions on eligibility and application procedure
How do I apply for my rights of audience?
If you have completed the advocacy assessment(s), complete and submit this application form with the relevant fee. Your application will normally be dealt with within 30 days of receipt of all the necessary information.
What type of award is available?
There are separate awards and assessments for rights of audience for criminal and civil advocacy.
When can I make an application for higher rights of audience?
You can apply for your higher courts qualification once you have been admitted and can evidence that you have passed the advocacy assessments.
I am a trainee solicitor – can I take the assessments?
Yes. As there is no experience or mandatory training requirement, if you decide to take the assessment you must be able to demonstrate the required practical advocacy skills. It is recommended that you should have, at the very least, completed and passed the advocacy module of the LPC before attempting the assessment(s). You will be able to apply for your higher rights of audience when you have been admitted as a solicitor.
I am an EU national. Am I eligible to apply under Regulation 5?
EU/EEA and Swiss nationals who have qualified in an EU Jurisdiction (i.e. lawyers who meet the requirements of Directive 2005/36 (Recognition of Professional Qualifications)) are eligible to apply under Rule 5. Please complete an Assessment Table.
This information will enable us to assess which (if any) assessments you will need to take to be able to gain higher rights of audience as an REL or (once admitted) as a solicitor in England and Wales.
Do I need to undertake any mandatory training?
No. However, you may decide that you need to undertake some additional training which will be offered by assessment organisations. Alternatively, you may feel that you have gained sufficient experience to be able to pass the advocacy assessment. This will be for you to decide.
What is included in the assessments?
The assessment will test all parts of the standards for either the criminal or civil award. This will include procedure, evidence and ethics and an advocacy assessment by way of a case study or simulation. Candidates will be assessed separately for the civil award or the criminal award.
Is there an experience requirement?
No. Provided you are admitted as a solicitor and have passed the advocacy assessment, you can make an application.
Do I need a certificate of eligibility from the SRA to take the assessment?
No. You can register with an assessment organisation to take the assessment. Once you have passed the assessment, you may submit your application for your award.
For holders of higher courts qualifications
Am I required to complete CPD?
Yes. You must complete at least five hours of CPD related to advocacy in the higher courts in each of the first five years following the award of the qualification.
This requirement is not in addition to a solicitor's compulsory CPD requirement, currently 16 hours per year. It is up to you to decide what your training needs are in relation to the advocacy services you provide. Therefore, you can do advocacy training, training on new procedures or on substantive law if relevant to higher court practice.
The General Council of the Bar is the representative body for barristers in England and Wales.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is the regulatory body for barristers in England and Wales.
The Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates (SAHCA) is a national association that represents the interests of solicitors who practise as advocates in the higher courts.