The Lord Chancellor has today indicated that he will be getting rid of the silks system by swapping it for a quality-mark set up by the barrister profession.
The surprise concession by Lord Irvine ironically follows on the heels of his decision to appoint more silks than ever before in the recent round of appointments. The Office of Fair Trading is also investigating whether the system is anticompetitive.
Speaking at the ceremony for the presentation of silks awards, Lord Irvine also announced that he will not make any silks appointments in 2004.
A Bar Council spokesman said that although the council regards the silks system as a “benchmark of quality in the public interest”, it endorses Sir Iain Glidewell’s view that QCs should be appointed on the recommendation of a panel chaired by a retired Law Lord or a Lord Justice of Appeal.
A consultation on the future of QCs and judicial appointments arranged by Lord Irvine will take place in the summer.