2017 Competition Opening – Press Release

PRESS RELEASE (for publication 00.01 Thursday 16 February)

The 2017 QC competition opens for applications today. The competition, the 12th under the new QC appointment scheme introduced in 2005, will be open for applications until 30 March 2017.

QCs are appointed by Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, following consideration by the independent Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel.

There is a new Chair of the Selection Panel this year. Sir Alex Allan has succeeded Helen Pitcher, who has stood down from the Selection Panel following eight years’ service, including five years as Chairman. Sir Alex was formerly a senior Civil Servant in a number of Government Departments, as well as being High Commissioner to Australia. Sir Alex has been a member of the Selection Panel since 2013.

Launching the competition, Sir Alex said:
“We are making some changes to the application process this year. We are emphasising that applicants are welcome to draw on cases from the last three years, rather than from the last two years as previously. We hope this will make it easier for applicants who have had career breaks, or who work in areas of law which rarely involve contested trials, to list enough suitable cases.

We are also trying to make sure that the application fee is not a barrier to well-qualified advocates with lower incomes. Those applicants who have a gross fee income of £60,000 or less will be entitled to pay fees at half the standard level. “ Dr Maggie Semple has joined the Selection Panel as a new lay member. Dr Semple has worked with many public and private sector organisations at a senior level on leadership development, cultural change and organisational development. She serves on a range of boards including the Brit School and the South Bank Arts Centre, and she is a non-executive Director of the Criminal cases Review Commission.

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 2017 competition are:
Sir Alex Allan (Chair)
Wanda Goldwag
Tony King
Martin Mann QC
Edward Nally
Quinton Quayle
Dr Maggie Semple OBE
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.qcappointments.org
4. Each applicant will be considered against five competencies:
• Understanding and using the law
• Written and oral advocacy
• Working with others
• Diversity
• Integrity
5. In past years, around 40-45% of applicants have been successful, although there is no quota. All unsuccessful applicants receive written personal feedback on their application. The Panel expects to make its recommendations to the Lord Chancellor in late October 2017. It is hoped that results of the competition will be announced in December 2017.
6. Applicants normally pay a fee of £1,800 plus VAT on application, and a further £3,000 plus VAT if appointed. Those entitled to the reduced fees will pay £900 plus VAT on application and a further £1,500 plus VAT if appointed.
7. Copies of the Selection Panel’s report on the previous competition are available on the QCA website. Further information can also be obtained from Russell Wallman, Chief Executive of QCA, on 0207 831 0020.