QC appointments slip to all time low with 84 made up

The number of barristers being awarded Queen’s Counsel status is on a downward trajectory with just 84 taking silk in the latest round, the lowest number since the system was reviewed in 2006.

In the last seven years the highest number of successful applicants came in 2005/06, when 175 took silk after 443 applied. Since then the number has fallen dramatically. Last year, of the 214 applicants 88 were successful compared with 84 from 183 applications this year (for a full break-down see table below).

Counsel were informed of their fate yesterday in a letter from the QC appointments committee, which is chaired by Helen Pitcher.

She said: “The selection process is an exacting one. We collect confidential assessments from judges, fellow advocates and professional clients, all of whom will have seen the applicant at work. Applicants are also interviewed by two members of the panel. The whole panel then discusses the evidence on each applicant.”

Of those awarded the coveted status, 14 are female, the equivalent of 54 per cent of the women who applied, while just three applicants declared their ethnic background to be non-white.

One solicitor-advocate made the grade, with Skadden Arps Meagher & Flom partner Karyl Nairn taking silk. Nairn, who was listed in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 for 2013 (28 January 2012), was a key figure in the defence of Roman Abramovich when he was sued by rival oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

The application process was shaken up in 2006 when the panel shifted to a competency-based system. This means that, rather than filling a quota, silks are promoted on an even basis, with everyone filling in the same form and being required to meet the same criteria.

Applicants are required to pay just under £2,000 to take part in the process and must source 12 judicial referees to help support their 70-page application.

Each applicant must then choose a small number of cases that reflect standards of excellence across six areas of competency: understanding and using the law; written advocacy; oral advocacy; working with others; diversity; and integrity.

Those who get through to the interview stage are quizzed by a senior member of the profession and a lay member of the public about their experience and how it fits with those key competencies.

How this year’s application numbers compare with previous years’:

Year Number of applicants Number of successful applicants
2012/13 183 84
2011/12 214 88
2010/11 251 120
2009/10 275 129
2008/09 247 104
2007/08 333 98
2006/07 443 175

This year’s silk list in full:

Name  Chambers Year of call Specialism 
Mark Warwick Selborne   1974 Property
David Bentley Doughty Street 1984 Crime
Timothy Dutton Maitland   1985 Property
Caroline Harrison 2 Temple Gardens 1986 Clinical negligence
Michelle Stevens-Hoare Hardwicke 1986 Property
Anthony Metzer Argent   1987 Civil 
Mark Arnold 3-4 South Square 1988 Commercial 
Sally Hatfield Byrom Street   1988 Clinical negligence
Edward Pepperall St Philips    1989 Commercial
Fiona Sinclair Four New Square 1989 Commerce and construction
Graham Brodie 33 Chancery Lane 1989 Civil and criminal 
Joseph Stone Doughty Street   1989 Criminal defence and human rights
Kevin Rutledge Cornerstone Barristers 1989 Local authorities and social housing
Mark Wonnacott Maitland   1989 Property 
Parmjit Cheema 2 Hare Court 1989 Crime
Peter Kirby Hardwicke 1989 Commercial
William Hughes 9-12 Bell Yard 1989 Crime
David Williams  4 Paper Buildings 1990 Family
Hugh Davies 3 Raymond Buildings 1990 Crime
James Turner  Quadrant    1990 Commercial and shipping law
Michael Auty 1 High Pavement 1990 Crime
Nicholas Randall Devereux   1990 Sport, employment and pensions
Andrew Hitchmough Pump Court Tax   1991 Capital tax, corporation tax
Keith Bryant Outer Temple   1991 Employment and pensions
Nigel Eaton Essex Court   1991 Commercial 
Sasha White Landmark   1991 Environmental and planning
Stephanie Harrison Garden Court   1991 Public and admin 
David Blayney  Serle Court 1992 Commercial 
David Herbert 36 Bedford Row 1992 Crime
Gavin Mansfield  Littleton   1992 Employment
Hefin Rees 39 Essex Street 1992 Commercial and construction
Jessica Simor  Matrix   1992 EU, competition, public law
John de Waal Hardwicke 1992 Chancery and Commercial
John Hayes Zenith   1992 Family
John Jones Doughty Street 1992 Extradition, war crimes and counter-terrorism
Jonathan Southgate 29 Bedford Row 1992 Family
Justin Rushbrooke 5RB 1992 Defamation and privacy 
Micheal Ford Old Square   1992 Employment
Oliver Saxby Six Pump Court 1992 Crime
Fionnuala McCredie Keating   1992 Construction and engineering
Christopher Daw Lincoln House   1993 Crime and fraud
David Quest 3 Verulam Buildings 1993 Banking and finance
John Lloyd-Jones 36 Bedford Row 1993 Crime
John Taylor Fountain Court 1993 Banking and finance
Kristina Montgomery St Philips   1993 Crime
Matthew Nicklin 5RB 1993 Defamation
Michael Hayton Deans Court   1993 Crime
Richard Booth  One Crown Office Row 1993 Clinical negligence and professional discipline
Richard Harwood 39 Essex Street 1993 Environment and planning
Richard Jory 9-12 Bell Yard 1993 Crime and fraud
Thomas Crowther Apex   1993 Crime 
Thomas Grant Maitland   1993 Commercial chancery
Christopher Boyle Landmark   1994 Planning
James Potts Erskine   1994 Company
Jason Coppel 11KBW 1994 Public and procurement 
Jonas Hankin St Philips   1994 Crime
Jonathan Davies-Jones 3 Verulam Buildings 1994 Banking and finance 
Jonathan Jones No 5   1994 Clinical negligence
Karl Rowley St Johns Buildings 1994 Children
Patrick Way  Grays Inn Tax   1994 Tax
Geraint Webb Henderson   1995 Commercial
Kassie Smith Monckton   1995 Competition and regulatory
Michael Collett 20 Essex Street 1995 Commercial 
Roger Masefield Brick Court   1995 Commercial
Sa’ad Hossain One Essex Court 1995 Commercial
Stephen Houseman Essex Court   1995 Commercial
Camilla Bingham One Essex Court 1996 Company and Commercial
Danny Friedman Matrix   1996 Public international
James Maurici Landmark   1996 Planning and environment
James Strachan 39 Essex Street 1996 Public and administration
Jasbir Dhillon Brick Court 1996 Banking and finance
Jeremy Goldring South Square 1996 Commercial and administration
Jonathan Glasson Matrix   1996 Civil and criminal
Lucy Frazer South Square 1996 Insolvency and commercial
Stephen Cragg Doughty Street 1996 Human rights
Charles Dougherty 2 Temple Gardens 1997 Commercial
Jonathan Adkin Serle Court 1997 Commercial
Martin Chamberlain Brick Court   1997 Public and admin, human rights
Paul Key Essex Court 1997 Commercial 
Samuel Wordsworth Essex Court 1997 International
Elizabeth Isaacs St Ives  1998 Family
Richard Wright No 6 Park Square 1998 Crime
Andrew Henshaw Brick Court 2000 Commercial
Karyl Nairn Skadden N/A Arbitration