The SRA Higher Rights of Audience 2011 came into force on 6 October 2011 replacing the Solicitors’ Higher Rights of Audience Regulations 2010 which came into effect on 1 April 2010. Those in turn replaced the Higher Courts Qualification Regulations 2000. Under the new regulations there is only one route to obtaining qualification for higher courts advocacy by way of assessment. There are separate assessments in civil and criminal and both must be passed to hold higher rights in all courts.
The assessments are carried out by assessment providers authorised by the SRA. There is no mandatory training or experience criteria. The assessment under the  regulations will test all parts of the standards for either the criminal or civil award. This includes procedure, evidence and ethics and an advocacy assessment by way of a case study or simulation.
The transitional arrangements under the 2010 Regulations are preserved in the SRA Higher Rights of Audience 2011 and ran for a period of 24 months from the date on which the 2010 Regulations came into force and therefore expired in April 2012. The only route to obtaining Higher Rights now is by taking the new assessment.
The requirement to undertake 5 hours CPD in advocacy issues in the first five years following the award of higher rights of audience is retained in the new regulations.
For full details see the SRA website.
Those with existing higher rights have been ‘passported’ onto the new scheme. However, re-accreditation is still an issue following the SRA consultations last year. The SRA is working together with the Bar Standards Board with a view to reaching common agreement on the issue of re-accreditation.