QC deadline day prompts bar complaints

The deadline for QC applications closed on Monday (January 29) prompting a barrage of complaints from harrassed barristers struggling to meet the tight deadline.

The QC appointments committee today kicks off the next stage with professional conduct checks and references sought from judges and arbitrators for all applicants.

Applicants felt “hard done by” due to the tight submission deadline to fill out the 122-page form, which initially was only a month over the Christmas period. However, after protests this was extended by two weeks to last Monday at 2pm (29 January), though many feel this was not enough.

One senior clerk at a top 20 set said: “Many deemed the deadline to be discriminatory to the women who may wish to apply but have found it tough to complete the submission in time bearing in mind a number of them take it upon themselves to look after the family festivities at Christmas.

“Also, there are areas within the form that are made unnecessarily complicated, in particular the method of the selection of referees and notable cases to be cited in support of the application.”

Another clerk, however, felt that the deadline, once extended was fair. He said: “To be able to complete the application within such time constraints shows grit and ability to get the job done.”

Many at the junior bar have also been left disgruntled by the cost of applying rising substantially, from £1,800 plus VAT last year to £2,500 plus VAT this year. Successful applicants in 2007 will have to pay a further £3,000 plus VAT, compared with £2,250 plus VAT in 2006.

Last year there had been an initial filter system, where the applications alone were taken into consideration, before conduct checks. However, this has been dropped as the number of applicants is expected to be lower than 2006’s round, which was the first opportunity to be appointed to silk since 2003.

The QC appointments committee declined to comment.