SRA Handbook

Introduction to the Higher Rights of Audience Regulations

Version 19 of the Handbook was published on 1 October 2017. For more information, please click "History" above.

Introduction to the Higher Rights of Audience Regulations


Authority: Made on 17 June 2011 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Board under sections 2, 79 and 80 of the Solicitors Act 1974 with the approval of the Legal Services Board under paragraph 19 of Schedule 4 to the Legal Services Act 2007

Date: These regulations came into force on 6 October 2011

Replacing: Solicitors' Higher Rights of Audience Regulations 2010

Regulating: The qualifications that solicitors and RELs require to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts in England and Wales.


Outcomes-focused regulation concentrates on providing positive outcomes which when achieved will benefit and protect clients and the public. These regulations aim to ensure that solicitors and RELs who want to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts of England and Wales are competent to do so.

Solicitors and RELs are granted rights of audience in all courts upon qualification/registration but cannot exercise those rights in the higher courts until they have complied with additional requirements. Solicitors and RELs wishing to undertake criminal advocacy must comply with the SRA QASA Regulations. We are required to set the education and training requirements which you must comply with in order for these rights to be used. These regulations describe the qualifications available, where rights can be transferred, and set out the process for becoming eligible to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts.

The intention is to give the public confidence that solicitor higher court advocates have met appropriate standards and adhere to the relevant Principles.

The Principles

These regulations form part of the Handbook, in which the 10 mandatory Principles are all-pervasive. They apply to all those we regulate and underpin all aspects of practice. Outcomes relevant to these regulations are listed beneath the Principles.

You must:

  1. uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;
  2. act with integrity;
  3. not allow your independence to be compromised;
  4. act in the best interests of each client;
  5. provide a proper standard of service to your clients;
  6. behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;
  7. comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner.
  8. run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;
  9. run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity; and
  10. protect client money and assets.


The outcomes which apply to these regulations are that:


you have achieved the standard of competence required of higher courts advocates;


you demonstrate this competence through objective assessment;


you maintain competence through relevant ongoing training; and


you act so that clients, the judiciary and the wider public, have confidence that this has been demonstrated.

These outcomes, and the regulations that flow from them, apply to admitted solicitors, and RELs.

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