The upper crust

Society has a curious ambivalence towards elitism at the moment.

So-called reality shows like ’Made in Chelsea’ cash in on the public’s fascination with the upper crusts and others who mill around in Barbour jackets and Jack Wills clothes, while anti-establishment sentiment looms large in other respects. The interruption of the Oxford/Cambridge boat race last week is a case in point.

And the law, it seems, hasn’t escaped the imbroglio, with this year’s QC appointments accompanied by a more-noticeable-than-usual undercurrent of resentment towards the privilege the process enshrines.

The hoo-ha was possibly spurred by the appointment of Matrix Chambers’ David Wolfe, who in 2003 spoke out against the QC system only to successfully apply for the accolade this year (although he did refuse to attend the silk ceremony).

In The Lawyer’s opinion section this week, Westminster University professor of law and sociology John Flood puts forward an impassioned plea for a review of the QC system arguing that it is “archaic” and “woolly” – a view that was met with some equally robust rebuttals from readers of TheLawyer.com (see story).

But, as far as opaque and elite systems of recognition go, the QC system is probably safe for now – at least one would assume it is while the even more opaque honorary QC system is still in place.