Higher rights of audience
Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC)
8 January 2014 – In October 2013, the Patents County Court (PCC) was dissolved, and replaced by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC), a specialist court within the Chancery Division of the High Court. The IPEC will take on cases which were previously dealt with by the PCC, rules and procedures are not materially different, and the cost and damages limits are unchanged.
On the face of it, our Higher Rights of Audience (HRA) regulations would prevent solicitors from appearing in the IPEC unless they held the HRA Civil award. However, we do not believe this to be appropriate, in circumstances where there is no material difference between the PCC and the IPEC.
We will amend the HRA regulations as soon as possible to remove the requirement for solicitors appearing in IPEC to hold a Civil HRA award. In the interim, if you are a solicitor who wishes to appear in the IPEC, we confirm that we will not require you to possess the HRA Civil award in order to exercise your Higher Rights of Audience in the IPEC, and you will not be held to be in breach of regulation 2 of the HRA Regulations if you do.
The Chancellor of the High Court has issued a statement confirming that no barriers will be put in the way of solicitors who wish to appear in the IPEC, unless there are good reasons to do so. Solicitors will therefore not need to seek permission to appear in each individual case.
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?
No. From 1 November 2016, you should reflect on your work and complete learning and development that helps you to remain competent. For more help, you can look at our continuing competence tool kit.
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.