Fifty members of Parliament are supporting an Early Day Motion calling for the abolition of Queen's Counsel.
The motion was originally tabled last week by 36 Labour MPs, and the figure grew to 50 over the course of the week. The next step is likely to be either to seek an amendment to the Access To Justice Bill, or to have the proposal debated separately.
Andrew Dismore MP, one of the sponsors of the motion, argues that “recent events have shown that the current system is a licence to print money. It is high time that we abolished the expensive and anachronistic distinction of Queen's Counsel, which has no place in a legal system for the 21st Century,” he said.
Complaints against the system focus on the secretive and peculiar system of election, the double-manning that still prevails, the quality of some QCs compared with senior-juniors and a desire to review the way in which the Bar operates as a whole.
In October The Lawyer reported on calls by the Legal Action Group to abolish the system, which they dismissed as “a market-rigging exercise” designed solely to push up the earnings of top barristers.
However, the Lord Chancellor's Department currently has no plans to make such a drastic change. It maintains that the system of QC's serves as a “British standard or kite mark, a kind of qualitative control”.