The Scottish bar has abolished the so-called ‘mixed ;doubles’ ;rule following consultations with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Scottish Government.
The 1993 rule, which did not allow advocates and solicitor-advocates representing the same party to be heard together in court, was brought in as it was felt that mixed doubles would not be in the best interests of consumers.
The belief at the time was that mixing advocates and solicitor-advocates could harm the independence of advocates because solicitors were held contractually to their clients.
This is no longer the majority view and has led to Richard Keen QC, the dean of the Faculty of Advocates, which governs the Scottish bar, taking the decision to revoke the rule.
Keen said: “I believe it will increase freedom of choice and that’s important for the consumer of legal services.”
Both the OFT and the Scottish Government had backed the move to rescind the rule.
On 23 September Keen issued a new rule that stated: “From that day forward a member of the Faculty of Advocates may appear in any court, whether in a criminal or civil cause, with a solicitor who has a right of audience in the court.”
Chambers and faculty stables have welcomed the change to the rule.
Ampersand stable director Simon Di Rollo QC said the mixed doubles rule had been viewed as both anomalous and unworkable.
“Where more than one representative is engaged, a client is entitled to expect each to add real value to the team,” added Di Rollo. “We have no doubt that our stable, working with our instructing solicitors, will ensure that this continues to be the case.”