MP's Bill proposals put QCs in firing line

In his continuing crusade against silks, Labour MP Andrew Dismore has tabled a series of amendments to the Access to Justice Bill to abolish or overhaul the QC system.

Dismore, a solicitor and MP for Hendon, proposes amendments that will lead to the wholesale scrapping of QCs and the abolition of traditional court dress.

Dismore says: “This is a golden opportunity to have some real modernisation of some of the archaic and old restrictive practices that bedevil the legal profession.”

His amendments include plans to: abolish the QC system; introduce a register of judges' interests; create a Judicial Appointments Commission to regulate appointment of judges, propose candidates and evaluate performances; abolish wigs in court.

Dismore admits: “I don't think I will get QCs abolished but there's scope for reform of the way they operate.” He adds he is more optimistic about a register of judicial interests.

But a Lord Chancellor's Department spokesman pours cold water on Dismore's register and wigs proposals and says there are no plans to abolish QCs. “The Lord Chancellor regards QCs as a kite mark of quality and feels they still have a big role to play in the justice system,” he says.

However, he concedes the Government is considering a judicial appointments group.