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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In common law, a right of audience is generally a right of a lawyer to appear and conduct proceedings in court on behalf of their client.[1 ] [2] In English law, there is a fundamental distinction between barristers, who have a right of audience, and solicitors, who traditionally do not (with some exceptions as of 1994); there is no such distinction in American law.

In superior courts, generally only barristers or advocates have a right of audience. Depending on jurisdiction, solicitors may have a right of audience in Magistrates and County or District courts. [2] Further, a person appearing in court without legal representation has a right of audience but a person who is not a lawyer that assists a party to a legal matter in court does not have a right of audience.


England and Wales

In English law, a right of audience is a right to appear and conduct proceedings in court.[1 ]

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)


Courts and Legal Services Act 1990

The following have rights of audience:

  • Rights granted by authorised bodies:

The Association of Law Costs Draftsmen grants rights to a Costs Lawyer ie Fellow of the Association having completed an advocacy course. (Association of Law Costs Draftsmen Order 2006 SI 2006/3333)

On the small claims track, any person may exercise rights of audience but only if the party is present at the hearing.[6] 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:

In literature

Vikram Seth's novel A Suitable Boy includes a fictional court case about Zamindari abolition, before all the Justices of the Supreme Court of India. The novel's Raja of Marh, present in the courtroom, protests a decision. The Chief Justice replies, "Your Highness, I cannot hear you." Represented by counsel, the Raja himself has no right of audience. The Raja then says he will speak more loudly, begins shouting, and ends up being removed from the courtroom.[7 ]


  1. ^ a b Curzon, L.B. (2002). Dictionary of Law (6th ed. ed.). London: Longman. pp. p.34. ISBN 0-582-43809-8.  
  2. ^ a b Osborn, P G (1993). Osborn's Concise Law Dictionary (7th ed. ed.). London: Sweet & Maxwell. pp. p.39. ISBN 0-421-38900-1.  
  3. ^ Chartered Institute of Patent Agents Order 1999, SI 1999/3137
  4. ^ Institute of Legal Executives Order 1998, SI 1998/1077
  5. ^ Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, s.39
  6. ^ Lay Representatives (Rights of Audience) Order 1999, SI 1999/1225
  7. ^ Seth, Vikram. (1993). A Suitable Boy. Bungay, Suffolk: Phoenix. pp. p.761. 978-1-85799-088-1.  

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