Solicitors' rights of audience, competence and regulation: a responsibility rights approach

Ching, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-9815-8804, 2021. Solicitors' rights of audience, competence and regulation: a responsibility rights approach. Legal Studies, 41 (4), pp. 585-602. ISSN 0261-3875

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This paper takes as its context the decision of the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales to abandon before the event regulation of lower court trial advocacy. Although solicitors will continue to acquire rights of audience on qualification, they will no longer be required to undertake training or assessment in witness examination, by contrast with other, competing, legal professions. Their opportunities to acquire competence outside the classroom will remain limited. The paper first explores this context and its implications for the three key factors of rights to perform, competence and regulatory accountability. The current regulatory system is then displayed as a Hohfeldian network of rights and duties held in tension between stakeholders intended to inhibit the incompetent exercise of rights to conduct trial advocacy. The SRA's proposal weakens this tension field and threatens the competitive position of solicitors. The paper therefore finally offers a radical alternative reconceptualisation of rights of audience in terms of Waldron's 'responsibility rights' as a solution, albeit one with significant implications for the individual advocate. This model, applicable globally, is closer to notions of societal good and professionalism than to those of the competitive market, whilst inhibiting incompetent performance and remediating the SRA's approach.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Legal Studies
Creators: Ching, J.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date: December 2021
Volume: 41
Number: 4
ISSN: 0261-3875
Rights: Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Law School
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 04 Feb 2021 15:47
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2023 15:56

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