Rights of audience

Rights of audience

In English law, a right of audience is a right to appear and conduct proceedings in court. [ cite book | author=Curzon, L.B. | title=Dictionary of Law | edition=6th ed. | publisher=Longman | location=London | id=ISBN 0-582-43809-8 | year=2002 | pages="p."34 ]

Traditionally, only barristers had rights of audience and, as of 2008, they still enjoy rights of audience in every court in England and Wales. However, rights of audience are now granted to a wider class of persons and are governed by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, s.27, as amended by the Access to Justice Act 1999, ss.36-39. The 1999 Act removed earlier restrictions on employed lawyers, such as counsel for corporations, exercising rights of audience (ss.37-38)

Rights of audience under the 1990 Act

The following have rights of audience:
*Rights granted by authorised bodies:
**Bar Council, grants rights to all barristers in all courts (ss.27(9)(a), 31);
**Law Society of England and Wales, grants rights to solicitors but require specific additional qualifications to appear in the higher courts (ss.27(9)(b), 31);
**Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (s.27(9)(c)); [Chartered Institute of Patent Agents Order 1999, [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si1999/19993137.htm SI 1999/3137] ]
**Institute of Legal Executives (s.27(9)(c)); [Institute of Legal Executives Order 1998, [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1998/19981077.htm SI 1998/1077] ]
*Persons granted rights by statute ( (s.27(2)(b)), for example, Health and Safety inspectors [Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, s.39]
*Persons granted rights by the discretion the court (s.27(2)(c));
*Litigants in person (s.27(2)(d));
*Employees of qualified litigators, such as solicitors' clerks, appearing in hearings held in private (s.27(2)(e)).

On the small claims track, any person may exercise rights of audience but only if the party is present at the hearing. [Lay Representatives (Rights of Audience) Order 1999, [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1999/19991225.htm SI 1999/1225] ] Other persons may not exercise rights of audience but may sit with a litigant in person and offer quiet assistance as a McKenzie friend.


These rights will continue until the Legal Services Act 2007 comes into force and which will give powers to grant rights of audience to:
*Bar Council;
*Law Society;
*Institute of Legal Evecutives;
*Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys;
*Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys; and
*Association of Law Costs Draftsmen.


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