APPOINTMENT AS QUEEN’S COUNSEL:
2005-06 COMPETITION ANNOUNCED
The independent selection panel for appointing Queen’s Counsel has announced today that it is inviting applications from barristers and solicitors with Higher Courts advocacy rights for appointment as Queen’s Counsel from Tuesday 19 July.
Under the new Scheme developed by the Bar Council and the Law Society, with the support of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, applicants will be considered against seven competences:• Integrity• Understanding and using the law• Analysing case material to develop arguments and focus the issues• Persuading – communicating arguments• Responding to unfolding case• Working with the client• Working in the team
Applicants are required to provide a self assessment as to how they meet the competences and the names of referees who have recently encountered them at work – judges or arbitrators, fellow practitioners and professional clients or client proxies.
Under the new scheme recommendations for appointment will be made by the Independent Selection Panel, chaired by Sir Duncan Nichol CBE. The Selection Panel includes a substantial lay (ie non-lawyer) membership and a retired senior judge (Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss). Their recommendations will be passed to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer) who will put the recommendations to The Queen. Lord Falconer has no power to veto names or to add names of his own.
From Tuesday 19 July, the application form and guidance for applicants are available on the website www.qcapplications.org.uk. The Scheme is funded entirely by fees from applicants.
The closing date for applications is Wednesday 14 September. On current expectations the outcome of the applications is likely to be announced in the first half of next year.
Launching the competition, Sir Duncan Nichol CBE, the Chairman of the Selection Panel, said:
“I am delighted to be able to invite applications for appointment as Queen’s Counsel under the new Scheme developed by the legal professions with the support of Department for Constitutional Affairs.
“This is a new, fair and transparent system for identifying excellence in advocacy in the higher courts. In deciding whom to recommend for appointment we will be relying on the applicant’s own self assessment, what is said about them by referees they themselves select or identify, and the account they give of themselves at an interview.
“Our recommendations will be made entirely on merit. Applicants who meet the demanding standard of excellence will be appointed regardless of ethnic origin, gender, professional background, or other extraneous factors. I hope that applicants for Silk can be drawn from all kinds of practice. We particularly encourage and welcome applications from women, black and minority ethnic lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities, all groups that are currently under-represented. We also encourage applications from solicitors as well as from barristers, and from employed lawyers with suitable advocacy experience.”
Notes to Editors
1.Further information from David Watts, Head of QC Appointments Secretariat0207 831 0020.
2. Members of the QC Selection panel are:
Sir Duncan Nichol CBE (Chairman)
Roy Amlot QC
The Rt. Hon. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, GBE
Professor Joan Higgins
Sonia Proudman QC
Karamjit Singh, CBE
3. A document setting out the principles and mechanics of the new process was agreed by the Bar and the Law Society in November 2004.
As the agreement records, the new scheme is intended to fulfil the widely-held objective of “serving the public interest by offering a fair and transparent means of identifying excellence in advocacy in the higher courts”.
The work that led to the agreement paid close regard to what has been said by the Commission for Judicial Appointments and by the Office of Fair Trading.
Key features of the new system include:• An independent selection panel• Selection against an agreed set of competences• A self assessment • References from members of the judiciary before whom the candidate has appeared, from professionals and from clients• An interview of the candidate
4.The Scheme is entirely self-financing. To cover the costs of the process applicants have to pay an application fee of £1800. There will be a further appointment fee of £2250 paid by successful applicants only.
5.Previously, recommendations for appointment as Queen’s Counsel were made by the Lord Chancellor, following consultations with the judiciary and senior practitioners. However, there were no specified competencies and it was felt that the system lacked transparency and did not demonstrably work in the public interest. There were criticisms that the outcome tended to favour certain groups.