Solicitors Higher Rights of Audience Regulations 2010

The Solicitors' Higher Rights of Audience Regulations 2010 were amended on 1 September 2010 to reflect changes introduced by the SRA Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Regulations 2010.View regulations with 1 September 2010 changes highlighted

The Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000 were replaced on 1 April 2010 by the Solicitors' Higher Rights of Audience Regulations 2010. View regulations with 1 April 2010 changes highlighted

Made on the first day of April by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with the approval of the Secretary of State under section 27 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and section 2 of the Solicitors Act 1974.

1. Introduction

  • 1.1

    The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that solicitors and RELs wishing to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts of England and Wales are competent to undertake advocacy in those proceedings in which they may exercise rights of audience in accordance with these regulations.

  • 1.2

    These regulations will come into force on such date as the SRA may determine, on which date The Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000 ("the 2000 regulations") shall cease to have effect.

  • 1.3

    In these regulations:

    • "comparable jurisdiction" includes Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and those jurisdictions listed in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Schedule to the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Regulations 1990 together with all Recognised Jurisdictions as defined in the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Regulations, and from time to time published by the SRA:
    • "higher courts advocacy qualification" means, subject to regulation 6, one of the qualifications referred to in regulation 3 to exercise extended rights of audience in the higher courts;
    • "Legal Practice Course" and "continuing professional development " have the meanings set out in the Training Regulations 1990;
    • "previous regulations"  means either the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 1992, the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 1998 or the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000;
    • "REL (registered European lawyer)"  means an individual registered with the SRA under Regulation 17 of the European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000; and
    • "SRA" means the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
    • "standards" means the Statement of standards for solicitor higher court advocates issued by the SRA and appended to these regulations.

2. Rights of audience

  • 2.1

    A solicitor is authorised by the SRA to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts subject to the provisions of Rule 20.01(1)(a)(ii) of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007 as amended.

  • 2.2

    An REL is authorised by the SRA to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts subject to the provisions of Rule 20.01(2)(a)(ii) of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007 as amended.

3. Qualifications to exercise extended rights of audience

  • 3.1

    The SRA may grant one or both of the following qualifications to a solicitor or REL who meets the requirements of these regulations:

    • Higher Courts (Civil Advocacy) Qualification which entitles the solicitor or REL to exercise rights of audience in all civil proceedings in the higher courts, including judicial review proceedings in any court arising from any criminal cause;
    • Higher Courts (Criminal Advocacy) Qualification which entitles the solicitor or REL to exercise rights of audience in all criminal proceedings in the higher courts and judicial review proceedings in any court arising from any criminal cause;
    subject always to the rules and principles of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007.
  • 3.2

    Those solicitors and RELs who have been granted a higher courts qualification by the Law Society or the SRA under the previous regulations shall be deemed to have been granted the equivalent qualification or qualifications under paragraph 3.1 above.

4. Qualifying to exercise extended rights of audience

  • 4.1

    Solicitors and RELs applying for a higher courts advocacy qualification must demonstrate that they are competent to undertake advocacy in the proceedings in relation to which they have applied by:

    • 4.1.1

      successfully completing assessments prescribed by the SRA; or

    • 4.1.2

      having gained an equivalent qualification in a comparable jurisdiction or a jurisdiction listed in Article 1 of the EC Parliament and Council Directive 98/5/EC and undertaken any further step(s) as may be specified by the SRA under regulation 5.

  • 4.2

    The SRA will issue standards against which the competence of solicitors and RELs applying for a higher courts advocacy qualification and exercising those rights of audience conferred by the qualification awarded will be assessed.  The standards will be appended to, but do not form part of these regulations and may be amended from time to time by the SRA.

5. Qualification gained in another jurisdiction

  • 5.1

    A solicitor or REL may apply for a qualification to exercise rights of audience in all proceedings in the higher courts relying on qualification(s) gained in any comparable jurisdiction or a jurisdiction listed in Article 1 of the EC Parliament and Council Directive 98/5/EC.

  • 5.2

    Each application will be considered on its merits by the SRA which may require the applicant to undertake such steps as it may specify in order to gain the qualification.

6. Exemptions under section 31C of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990

With respect to his or her entitlement to exercise a right of audience before a court in proceedings of a particular description, a solicitor or REL who is a person to whom, in respect of that court and that description of proceedings, section 31C of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 applies, shall have a higher courts advocacy qualification in respect of that entitlement.

7. Conversion provision for RELs

Any REL who is granted a qualification listed in regulation 3.1 shall keep that qualification upon being admitted as a solicitor.

8. Assessments

  • 8.1

    The SRA shall:

    • 8.1.1

      issue guidelines and standards for the provision of competence assessments in higher courts civil advocacy and higher courts criminal advocacy;

    • 8.1.2

      validate and authorise organisations to provide assessments and

    • 8.1.3

      monitor the provision of assessments.

9.

Solicitors or registered European lawyers who have gained a higher courts advocacy qualification under regulation 3.1 and 5.1 of these regulations, or who are exercising any right of audience in the higher courts by virtue of any exemption they have under Regulation 6, are subject to the continuing professional development requirements in the Training Regulations 1990. They must, in complying with these requirements, undertake at least five hours continuing professional development relating to the provision of advocacy services in the higher courts in each of the first five continuing professional development years following the grant of the qualification or (in the case of solicitors or registered European lawyers who exercise any right of audience in the higher courts by virtue of any exemption under regulation 5.1 ) the date of their first exercise of the right.

10. Applications and reviews

  • 10.1

    An application under these regulations shall be made by a solicitor or REL, shall be made on the form prescribed by the SRA and shall be accompanied by the appropriate fee fixed from time to time by the SRA.

  • 10.2

    A solicitor or REL shall not apply for a higher courts advocacy qualification until one of the requirements of regulation 4 has been met.

  • 10.3

    A solicitor or REL applying for a higher courts advocacy qualification may within 28 days of receiving notification of the SRA's decision ask for the decision to be reviewed.

  • 10.4

    A solicitor or REL may not apply to the SRA for a review of a decision by an assessment provider that he or she has failed an assessment.

11. Transitional arrangements

  • 11.1

    A solicitor or REL who at the date on which these regulations come into force has undertaken in part the requirements specified in regulation 5 of the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000 (the development route) and who has not been granted the Higher Courts (All Proceedings) Qualification, may either:

    • (a)

      within 24 months of the coming into force of these regulations, complete the requirements set out in regulations 5(1)(a) and 5(1)(b) of the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000, which will be treated as meeting the requirements of regulation 4 of these regulations, and may be granted both the Higher Courts (Civil Advocacy) Qualification and the Higher Courts (Criminal Advocacy) Qualification; or

    • (b)

      apply for a higher courts advocacy qualification in accordance with these regulations.

  • 11.2

    A solicitor or REL who at the date on which these regulations come into force has applied to the SRA under regulation 6 of the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000 (the accreditation route) but has not been granted a higher courts advocacy qualification, may either:

    • (a)

      within 24 months of the coming into force of these regulations complete the requirements set out in regulations 4(1)(b) and 6 of the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000, which will be treated as meeting the requirements of regulation 4 of these regulations, and may be granted one of or both the Higher Courts (Civil Advocacy) Qualification and the Higher Courts (Criminal Advocacy) Qualification; or

    • (b)

      may withdraw his or her application under the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000 and apply for one of or both the Higher Courts (Civil Advocacy) Qualification and the Higher Courts (Criminal Advocacy) Qualification accordance with these regulations.

  • 11.3

    A solicitor or REL who at the date on which these regulations come into force has applied to the SRA under regulation 7 of the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000 (the exemption route) but has not been granted a higher courts advocacy qualification, either:

    • (a)

      will be treated as meeting the requirements of regulation 4 of these regulations, provided he or she complies within 12 months of the coming into force of these regulations with regulation 7(1) of the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000, and may be granted one of or both the Higher Courts (Civil Advocacy) Qualification and the Higher Courts (Criminal Advocacy) Qualification; or

    • (b)

      may withdraw his or her application under the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000 and apply for one of or both the Higher Courts (Civil Advocacy) Qualification and the Higher Courts (Criminal Advocacy) Qualification in accordance with these regulations.

  • 11.4

    The SRA has the power to waive in writing any of the provisions of regulation 11 and to place conditions on and to revoke such waiver.