The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRS) are developing a new accreditation scheme for solicitors and registered European lawyers wishing to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts of England and Wales.
The SRS have launched a consultation to seek views on the competence standards for solicitor higher courts advocates, and have set out outline proposals for the operation of the scheme.
The SRS propose to introduce revised competence standards for solicitor advocates in the higher courts of England and Wales. They intend that these standards will be the benchmark against which the performance of all solicitors appearing before the higher courts can be objectively judged - irrespective of whether or not they choose to be accredited under the new scheme.
Solicitors who wish to demonstrate their competence as higher court advocates may do so by being accredited using the new scheme.
The scheme will provide for assessment and registration in all proceedings in the higher courts, or, alternatively, a solicitor may opt to specialise in criminal (including defence and prosecution) or civil (including family proceedings) higher courts proceedings. The scheme will require completion of objective assessments provided by authorised external assessment organisations.
Specifically the SRS seek the views of practitioners and stakeholders on: the appropriateness of the standards and performance indicators; outline proposals for the operation of the scheme, and; proposed changes to the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007 guidance on rule 2 and/or rule 11.
The consultation will close on 25 July 2008.
For more information, including consultation, visit the SRA website: http://www.sra.org.uk/consultations/801.article