In Autumn 2020, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced that it will be introducing regulatory changes for the Higher Rights of Audience (HRA) qualification, which allows solicitors to practice advocacy in the Higher courts in England and Wales. In this article, we break down what these changes are and what they mean in practice.
What are the HRA regulation changes?
- New assessment standards for both Civil and Criminal Higher Rights will be implemented.
- Trainee Solicitors will now only be able to undertake HRA training during the Professional Skills Course (PSC) and will need to complete the assessment after they become a qualified Solicitor.
- Currently, delegates need a cumulative pass rate for the written and practical assessment but from 2021, delegates will need to achieve a 60% pass mark on both the practical and written assessments separately.
When will the regulations be introduced?
The new HRA regulations are set to come into force on 31 January 2021. Once they are implemented, everyone who undertakes the HRA after this date will be assessed and taught under the new regulations. From 1 April 2021, only qualified solicitors will be able to take the criminal and civil HRA assessments.
Advice from BARBRI Altior
Speaking of the updates, Jody Tranter, head of BARBRI Altior said: “The recent SRA announcement has confirmed that there will be significant changes introduced for legal professionals looking to complete the Higher Rights of Audience (HRA) qualification from 31 January 2021. It may come as a surprise that trainee solicitors will now only be able to complete the assessment after they become qualified meaning that there will be a delay in trainees being able to put their skills into practice in the Higher Courts. Delegates will now also face more stringent criteria to pass the assessment, making qualification more challenging.
“We understand that there won’t be a transition period with these regulation changes, and many may be looking to qualify before these come into force. We’ve certainly seen an influx in delegates looking to enrol onto Civil or Criminal HRA courses before the end of 2020.
“And we wanted to note that for those who gained their HRA qualifications under previous regulations, you will be able to retain your existing rights. We appreciate that this may be a confusing change so if you have any questions – especially if you’re enrolled onto an HRA course with Altior currently or would like to understand what’s available to you – please do get in touch. Our team is always happy to support.”
For more information about our upcoming HRA courses or to speak with a member of our team contact: firstname.lastname@example.org