2016-17 Competition Announcement

PRESS RELEASE (for immediate publication)

The appointments of 113 new Queen’s Counsel (also known as silk) are announced today. These appointments are made by Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, Elizabeth Truss, following consideration by the independent Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel.

Helen Pitcher, the Chairman of the Selection Panel, who stands down from the Selection Panel after this competition said today:
“I congratulate each one of the 113 successful applicants. The selection process is exceptionally thorough. The application form itself is comprehensive and time consuming; we then collect confidential assessments from judges, fellow advocates and professional clients, who give freely of their time to provide evidence about an applicant’s demonstration of the competencies. Those with sufficient evidence of excellence are interviewed by one legal and one lay member of the Panel. The Selection Panel as a whole then considers all the evidence and makes a collective decision as to which applicants should be recommended for appointment.

We are pleased that the number of women applying and being successful continues to rise, and that the proportion of women amongst those appointed is at its highest level ever. However, we would still like to see more women apply. We have commissioned research to see whether there are barriers which may deter well-qualified women from applying. QCA expect to publish that research later this year. I was also pleased to note a slight rise in BME applicants to 15% of applications and that the success rate for BME applicants was in line with that for other applicants. As a result, the proportion of applicants from BME backgrounds amongst those appointed was also at the highest level ever.

Every year, the Panel has the difficult task of identifying the truly excellent advocates. I have been impressed with the standard of applicants during my time on the Panel. It has been a privilege to work with so many esteemed colleagues on the Selection Panel over the years.

I am confident that those appointed truly deserve to be Queen’s Counsel”. A full report on the 2016-17 competition, with statistical information relating to successful and unsuccessful applicants will be published on the QC Appointments website. A list of the new silks is attached. Among the 113 appointments are:
• 31 women applicants of the 56 who applied. Last year, 25 of the 48 female applicants were successful;
• 16 applicants who declared an ethnic origin other than white of the 37 who applied. Last year, nine such applicants out of 32 were appointed;
• 20 applicants aged over 50 were appointed, compared with 13 last year. The youngest successful applicant is 37 years old and the oldest is 65;
• Six solicitor advocates of the 13 who applied. In 2015-16, three solicitor advocates were appointed; and
• Two of the four applicants who declared a disability. In 2015-16, one applicant who declared a disability was appointed.
• Eight of the nine applicants who declared they were a gay man, a gay woman, or bisexual. In 2015-16, seven applicants of the 12 in that category were appointed


Notes for Editors
1. Queen’s Counsel are appointed by The Queen, on the advice of the Lord Chancellor. She is in turn advised by an independent Selection Panel which receives and considers each application and makes recommendations as to appointment.
2. The members of the independent Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel for the 2016-17 competition were:
Helen Pitcher OBE (Chairman)
Sir Alex Allan
Wanda Goldwag
Tony King
Martin Mann QC
Edward Nally
Quinton Quayle
Dame Janet Smith
Shaun Smith QC
Ranjit Sondhi CBE
The Selection Panel is supported by its own Secretariat.

3. The QC appointment scheme was developed by the Bar Council and the Law Society, with the support of the (then) Department for Constitutional Affairs, and approved by the then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State (Lord Falconer) in November 2004. Applications were first invited in 2005 and the first round of appointments under the new arrangements was announced in 2006. Refinements to the scheme, building on experience of the first year, were agreed in 2006. The selection process is financed entirely through applicants’ fees. A copy of the agreed
Process and further information is available from the Queen’s Counsel Appointments website: www.qcapplications.org.uk
4. Applications for the 2016-17 competition closed on 24 March 2016 and the Selection Panel submitted recommendations to the Lord Chancellor on 18 November 2016. Each applicant has been considered against five competencies:
• Understanding and using the law
• Written and oral advocacy
• Working with others
• Diversity
• Integrity
5. 191 of the 254 applicants were interviewed by the Selection Panel. All unsuccessful applicants receive written personal feedback on their application. The Panel expects to invite applications for the next round of appointments in mid-February 2017. It is hoped that results of that competition will be announced in December 2017.
6. The new Queen’s Counsel announced today will formally become silks when they make their declaration before the Lord Chancellor at the ceremony on 13 February 2017.
7. Copies of the Selection Panel’s report will be available on the QCA website from 13 January 2017. Further information can also be obtained from Russell Wallman, Chief Executive of QCA, on 0207 831 0020.