Quality should count

The following is a personal view. The fact that the Lord Chancellor has yet again overlooked the employed bar when awarding QCs clearly hurts the credibility of what is a good quality mark.

The employed bar provides quality advocacy in the written form like many top self-employed chancery barristers. For example, an employed barrister who is head of a legal department in a merchant bank brings in money to the UK and should be praised by the Lord Chancellor, not overlooked.

The current QC system seems to be a closed shop for the self-employed bar, and undermines the idea of there being one bar seeking to promote individuals on merit. Many employed barristers do not want to destroy the QC system, they just want it to modernise. Are you listening, Lord Chancellor?

Andrew Yale, BACFI executive and Bar Council member

The Union rules

I read with interest your recent feature on the European Court of Justice (EJC). However, the criticism levied by Chris Bright that the ECJ "regards itself as a constitutional court rather than a court for citizens" is missing the point.

The ECJ is indeed a constitutional court: it was set up to ensure that the European Union (EU) institutions acted within the remit of the powers granted to them by the European Treaties, the EU's constitutional framework.

The legal procedures contained in the European Treaties are based upon classic constitutional and administrative means of ensuring legal control over the acts of the legislature and the executive prevalent in civil law jurisdictions. These procedures do not have the protection of the individual citizen as their primary aim.

This was clear from the original European Treaties, which saw the member states as being the prime beneficiaries of judicial control. The protection of the individual was relegated to third position after the EU institutions themselves.

It is through the ECJ's own case law that the emphasis of judicial control has shifted to the citizen.

The problem lies with the conditions that citizens must fulfil in order to successfully show "direct and individual concern" when challenging EC legislation. The conditions must be relaxed, and this can only come from action within the EU Council, not from the ECJ.

Anthony Valcke, solicitor, Baker & McKenzie