NEW PROCEDURE PRODUCES NEW QUEEN’S COUNSEL
The first new appointments as Queen’s Counsel under the new arrangements were announced today.
These appointments mark a new and welcome departure in developing the appointments arrangements for this highly sought after award.
Sir Duncan Nichol, Chairman of the Selection Panel, who provide advice to Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said today:
Queen’s Counsel have always been highly regarded for their intellectual and advocacy skills. The Panel has seen its task as to maintain those high standards expected of a Silk while ensuring that the opportunity to take Silk is open on an equal basis to all who have the requisite qualities.
We have assessed each applicant against the published competency framework, including working with the client.
All our decisions have been based solely on evidence from the application form, an interview and from references.
References have been taken from a much wider range of sources than in the past, and only from those who had direct working experience of the applicant. These include for example judges, arbitrators, tribunal chairman; from other advocates who have worked with or against the applicant, and also from professional clients or client proxies (often instructing solicitors).
All unsuccessful applicants have received feedback on their application.
I have to stress that each applicant was considered on his or her own merits, regardless of their field of practice or professional background. There were no quotas, nor did we give special treatment to particular groups of applicants. The list is composed in this way because that is where the evidence led us.
Some people may express surprise that such and such promising young applicant did not get Silk or that some other, perhaps older, applicant did. All of our conclusions were reached on the basis only of the evidence available to us.
I am glad there are some surprises, but I hope there are no shocks. While all Silks, whether appointed under this new system or the old system, should be of the highest quality, if the new system simply reproduced the list that would have been created in the past it would have failed to meet the expectations the new process has raised.
We are publishing a short report giving further information about this year’s competition, with statistical information relating to successful and unsuccessful applicants. Copies are available today. It will also be available on our website later this week.
The Selection Panel would also like to express its warm appreciation of the contribution of the roughly 3000 people who provided a reference on one or more applicants, and without whom the process could not have worked effectively.
Finally, I should like to congratulate most heartily the new QCs .
The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, announced today (under embargo) the names of 175 Queen’s Counsel. They include:
• 33 women( 49%) of the 68 women who applied, more than ever before. (The previous highs were 53 applicants in 1999-2000; 12 appointments (27.2%) in 2002)
• 10 of the new silks have declared an ethnic origin other than white, 42% of the 24 such applicants. Again, more than ever before. (Previous high was 7 appointments in 2002 (36.8%) and 2003 (30.4%). Highest level of ethnic minority applicants was 30 in 1998-99)
• 4 solicitor advocates (33% of solicitor applicants) were successful. Again,, more than ever before. (Previous high was 2 appointments in 1997 (also 33%) and 2002 (25%). Previous high also 12 applicants in 2000-01).
• 1 appointment from the 5 applicants who declared a disability. (No previous figures)
• 9 appointments from applicants aged 55 or over. (No previous figures)
In all 443 barristers and solicitors applied to be considered for appointment as Queen’s Counsel this year.
Notes to Editors
1.Queen’s Counsel are appointed by The Queen, on the advice of the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. He is in turn advised by an independent Selection Panel which receives and considers each application and makes recommendations as to appointment.
2. Members of the independent Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel are:
Sir Duncan Nichol CBE (Chairman)
Roy Amlot QC
Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE
Professor Joan Higgins
Sonia Proudman QC
Karamjit Singh CBE
The Panel is supported by its own Secretariat.
3.The new Scheme was developed by the Bar Council and the Law Society, with the support of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, and approved by the Secretary of State in November 2004. A copy of the agreed Process and further information is available from the Queen’s Counsel Appointments website: www.qcapplications.org.uk
4.Applications were invited in July 2005 and closed in September 2005. Each applicant has been considered against seven competencies:• Integrity• Understanding and using the law• Analysing case material to develop arguments and focus the issues• Persuading• Responding to unfolding case• Working with the client• Working in the team
5.Copies of the Selection Panel’s report are also available on the QCA website. Further information can be obtained from David Watts, Head of QC Appointments Secretariat 0207 831 0020.