The Law Society and the Bar Council have agreed on a revolutionary new scheme for the appointment of QCs, it was announced last week.
Under the new scheme, QCs will be selected by a panel made up of four non-lawyers, two solicitors, two barristers and a retired judge. The panel will also be able to revoke the QC standard if silks cease to perform to a satisfactory level.
Potential QCs will have to provide a written application supported by references from other lawyers, judges and clients. Another new element of the proposals is that all lawyers whose written applications meet the criteria will be interviewed.
Clients will also be provided with information about the area in which a QC works.
Clifford Chance litigation partner Simon Davis welcomed the plan, but said it was unclear to what extent mediation and arbitration specialists would be included. Traditionally, he said, the silks system rewards “excellence in advocacy in the higher courts”.
However, the proposals generally have been met with approval. Sir John Nutting QC of 3 Raymond Buildings said: “This will necessarily introduce a greater transparency to the process, and such transparency is to be welcomed.”
Solicitor-QC Michael Caplan, a partner at Kingsley Napley, agreed, saying: “I see it as a good opportunity for suitable lawyers who meet the criteria to apply for silk.”