There are now 77 solicitor advocates practising in Scotland.
Although those with dual rights of audience in the High Court of Justiciary and the Court of Session, House of Lords and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council number only two, the number of applications for civil rights of audience has now reached 27, compared to 48 solicitor advocates granted criminal rights.
There were a large number of applications for criminal rights of audience at the outset. But, the most recent applicants have been civil litigators.
One of the most recent grantees is Brodies litigation partner Joyce Cullen, bringing the number of solicitor advocates at the Edinburgh-based firm up to five.
She comments: “One of the primary reasons for applying for extended rights of audience is to offer a wider service and facility for our clients.
“But that does not necessarily mean that we will no longer be instructing counsel – there is still a place for counsel.”
One of the main reasons for the recent increase in civil applicants for extended rights is the new commercial court, which, with its more informal and user-friendly procedure and atmosphere is ideally suited to the new
The now perennial question of joint representation or 'mixed doubles' of a solicitor advocate appearing with counsel continues to be discussed by the dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the president of the Law Society of Scotland.
It is acknowledged that this 'mixed doubles ban' is anomalous because many solicitors in Scotland, historically, are used to appearing in jury trials, and probably appear more frequently than their counterparts south of the border.
And with the anticipated increase in the use of the commercial court, that is seen as the main area where joint representation would be likely to be necessary.