Irvine's motives in question as record number takes silk

113 barristers – 26.3 per cent of applicants – take silk; commercial bar fears too many silks, too little work; LCD defends number

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, is facing allegations of seeking to reform the silks system by the back door after flooding the market with a record number of new Queen's Counsel.
No fewer than 113 barristers will take silk this year, compared with 77 last year and an average of just 71 new QCs since 1994. On average, just 14 per cent of applicants are successful, but this year that figure rocketed to 26.3 per cent.
There is particular concern over the number of new commercial silks in this year's round. Last year only one commercial set, Essex Court, received any new silks. Consequently, the commercial bar exerted considerable political pressure to ensure it was better represented this time around. However, there are considerable fears that this could now backfire.
“I think the Lord Chancellor has had an awful lot of pressure after the lack of commercial silk appointments last year and said 'right, you lot want silk, you can have silk, but you have to find the work',” said Paul Cooklin, senior practice manager at premier insolvency set 3/4 South Square. “Let's face it, there's not the volume of commercial litigation there was two years ago. I think there are going to be an awful lot of silks chasing a small amount of work,” he added.
A spokesman from the Lord Chancellor's Department said: “Appointments are made strictly on the basis of the individual merits of the applicants concerned. However, it's true to say that other factors would include the expansion of the legal services market – for example the rise of London as an international legal centre, and the increase in specialisation and sub-specialisation in different fields of law where people have developed expertise.”
Two sets received five new appointments each – magic circle commercial set Fountain Court and 39 Essex Street – while 3 Verulam Buildings received four.
Fountain Court's senior clerk Michael Couling argues that the glut of new commercial silks was important to redress the balance from previous years. He says that the set has been offered a lot of silk work in the past six months and that given his tenants' strong junior practices, the transition to silk should be smooth. “These appointments are a testament to Fountain Court's strength in depth. Given our losses – we were down to 13 silks, but with a lot of good juniors – to get five is excellent,” he said.
The new appointments also included two solicitors – Herbert Smith's Dr Julian Lew and Kingsley Napley's Michael Caplan. Another former solicitor, Malcolm Gammie of One Essex Court, was also rewarded with silk, even though he was only called to the bar in 1997. Previously Gammie, a tax specialist, practised as a solicitor at Linklaters. One Essex Court gained three new silks in total: Gammie, Kenneth MacLean and the long-awaited appointment of Laurence Rabinowitz, one of the stars of the commercial bar.
In total there were 429 applications for silk, of which 44 were from women, 19 from ethnic minority lawyers and eight from solicitors. Of those appointed, 12 are women (27.2 per cent of female applicants) and seven are from an ethnic minority (36.8 per cent of ethnic minority applicants). Both groups received a higher percentage of appointments than last year.

Silks List 2002
Herbert Smith
Dr Julian Lew
Kingsley Napley
Michael Caplan

Atkin Chambers
Mark Raeside
2 Bedford Row
James Sturman
29 Bedford Row
Philip Cayford, Nicholas Francis
Blackstone Chambers
Hugo Page, Mark Shaw
Brick Court Chambers
Mark Brealey, Richard Lord, Michael Swainston
4 Brick Court
Marianna Hildyard
Crown Office Chambers
Jonathan Waite
1 Crown Office Row
David Balcombe
Doughty Street Chambers
Andrew Hall, Keir Starmer
Erskine Chambers
David Chivers, Martin Moore
Essex Court Chambers
Steven Berry, Victor Lyon, Malcolm Shaw
One Essex Court
Malcolm Gammie, Kenneth MacLean, Laurence Rabinowitz
4 Essex Court
Simon Kverndal, Nigel Meeson
5 Essex Court
Simon Freeland
20 Essex Street
Duncan Matthews, Stephen Morris
23 Essex Street
Joanna Glynn, Daniel Janner
39 Essex Street
Neil Block, Stuart Catchpole, Richard Clayton, Alison Foster, David Melville
Farrar's Building
Gregory Treverton-Jones
Fountain Court
Philip Brook Smith, Raymond Cox, Michael McLaren, Guy Philipps, David Waksman
Furnival Chambers
Kim Hollis
Two Garden Court
Henry Blaxland, Icah Peart
4-5 Gray's Inn Square
Timothy Corner, Peter Village
Gray's Inn Tax Chambers
Philip Baker

2 Hare Court
David Howker,Orlando Pownall
3 Hare Court
James Dingemans
Hollis Whiteman Chambers
Peter Doyle
Keating Chambers
Finola O'Farrell, Adrian Williamson
One King's Bench Walk
Clive Newton
2 King's Bench Walk
(Michael Vere-Hodge QC)
Gordon Bebb,Jonathan Fuller
10 King's Bench Walk (Georges Khayat QC)
David Nathan
11 King's Bench Walk Chambers
Andrew Hillier
12 King's Bench Walk
Susan Rodway
13 King's Bench Walk
Simon Draycott
Littleton Chambers
Ian Gatt
Maitland Chambers
Paul Girolami
Matrix Chambers
Rhodri Thompson, Hugh Tomlinson, Rabinder Singh
1 Middle Temple Lane
Philip King
1 Mitre Court Buildings
Valentine Le Grice
Monckton Chambers
Melanie Hall
Three New Square
Guy Burkill
Four New Square
Michael Soole
24 Old Buildings
Stephen Moverley Smith
Old Square Chambers
Nigel Cooksley, Jane McNeill, Paul Rose
4 Paper Buildings (Jean Ritchie QC)
Patrick Lawrence
Pump Court Chambers
Oba Nsugbe
Pump Court Tax Chambers
Michael Conlon
Queen Elizabeth Building
Lewis Marks
3 Raymond Buildings
Michael Bromley-Martin, James Lewis
5 Raymond Buildings
Mark Warby
Serle Court
Dominic Dowley
3-4 South Square
Martin Pascoe
3 Stone Buildings
Sarah Asplin
4 Stone Buildings
Robert Miles
5 Stone Buildings
Christopher Tidmarsh, Shân Warnock-Smith
2 Temple Gardens
Graham Eklund, David Thomas
Tooks Court Chambers
Michael Turner
3 Verulum Buildings
Michael Kay, Andrew Onslow, Rory Philips, Stephen Philips
Wilberforce Chambers
John Wardell

5 Fountain Court
Jeremy Cahill, Satinder Hunjan
St Philips Chambers
David Hershman
30 Park Place
James Tillyard, Peter Murphy
Walnut House
Geoffrey Mercer, Sarah Munro
St Paul's Chambers
Guy Kearl
Zenith Chambers
Julian Goose
India Buildings Chambers
Graham Wood
Deans Court Chambers
John Bromley-Davenport
28 St John St
Anthony Hayden, John Jones
No 1 High Pavement
Gregory Dickinson, Paul Mann
Paradise Chambers
Paul Watson
Iscoed Chambers
Elwen Evans


Professor Hugh Beale
Law Commissioner and professor at University of Warwick
Sir Edward Caldwell
First Parliamentary Counsel
Professor Reginald Dias
Emeritus fellow, University of Cambridge
Professor William Twining
Research professor of law, University College, London