Time for 'market-rigging'

The Legal Action Group (LAG) has called for the abolition of QCs, dismissing the system as “a market-rigging exercise” designed solely to push up the earnings of top barristers.

Vicki Chapman, LAG policy director, said silk status was “a public honour for private gain”. She added: “The Lord Chancellor should grasp the nettle and abolish QCs, then senior counsel would be paid at a level dictated by the wider market. The Government would save money and so would the wider public.”

Chapman also called for a system of graduated fees or pre-determined fees to reduce claims in Court of Appeal and House of Lords hearings.

Her comments follow the House of Lords inquiry into QCs' fees in appeal cases earlier this month. The unprecedented report concluded that fees claimed by top silks, such as Michael Mansfield QC, were “wholly out of line”.

Earlier this year the Association of Women Barristers backed calls by The Lawyer for an end to the QC system which, it claimed, was an obstacle to greater equality at the Bar.

A spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's Department said: “There are no plans to phase out QCs. QCs are important in identifying leading lights of the profession to the public.”