THE TRADITIONAL rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool has spilled over into the silk round.
Liverpool was a notable exception in a generally good year for barristers outside London. Nineteen QCs were awarded to tenants in regional sets compared to 15 last year. Six Manchester barristers were successful.
Senior Liverpool barristers are reluctant to criticise Lord Mackay over the apparent snub. They do, however, say the lack of any local successes compared to Manchester's impressive tally has "raised eyebrows".
Robert Moss, practice manager at David Harris QC's Peel House set, says: "I don't think the results of the silk applications are a true reflection of the talent here."
Prominent among this year's new silks are public law specialist Cherie Booth, of 4-5 Gray's Inn Square, civil rights barrister Edward Fitzgerald, of Doughty Street Chambers, and the medical negligence expert Dr Michael Powers, of Robert Nelson QC's 1 Paper Buildings Set, who was only called to the Bar in 1979.
Of the 13 sets which saw two tenants succeed three were in the regions. They were Mukhtar Hussain QC's Lincoln House Chambers and Keith Goddard QC's Deans Court Chambers, both in Manchester, and Philip Richards' 30 Park Place set in Cardiff.
Of the London chambers, the Chancery set 5 Stone Buildings headed by Henry Harrod, which has 18 tenants, did well to double its QC contingent with the appointment of Mark Herbert and Launcelot Henderson.
"It gives us a great deal of strength, we've never had four silks here simultaneously," says Harrod.