find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
England’s QC reforms are their own: NSW Bar

England’s QC reforms are their own: NSW Bar

AUSTRALIA’S LEGAL profession is unlikely to be affected by the “radical” reforms to the mother country’s 400-year-old system for selecting QCs, according to the president of the peak…

AUSTRALIA’S LEGAL profession is unlikely to be affected by the “radical” reforms to the mother country’s 400-year-old system for selecting QCs, according to the president of the peak judicial body in NSW.

The title of Queen’s Counsel has won a temporary reprieve in the UK under plans unveiled recently for reform of the system for marking out an elite cadre of advocates.

The much criticised method of selecting QCs is to be replaced by an accreditation scheme for senior advocates run by that country’s Bar Council and Law Society.

NSW Bar Association president Ian Harrison SC acknowledged that, for England, the change was a significant one, but Australia had already gone through the process of reforming the age-old title.

In NSW the Government appointment of Queen’s Counsel was abolished 10 years ago and replaced by Senior Counsel appointed by the Bar Association, he said.

In the UK, an interim scheme will be run for two or three years while consultations determine the exact nature of the reforms. Meanwhile, the UK Government said it would keep the QC title, but once the new scheme had been finalised the title may be abolished.

Under the accreditation scheme, Silks in the UK will no longer be chosen by the Lord Chancellor after consultations with judges. Additionally, applicants will take the burden of costs from the taxpayer.

While under the old system QCs carry the title for life and receive higher fees from legal aid and prosecution funds, the new system will see them having to undergo revalidation periodically.

NSW Bar Association president Harrison told Lawyers Weekly that NSW had a detailed protocol already, “which is the checklist against which applications for Silk are examined, and it’s working well”.

The present Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer told BBC Radio 4’s World At One that assessments were being made about the market overall and that the QC system was internationally recognised as a benchmark for quality and brought a lot of money into the country.

“If those researches revealed there was some other system, then that might involve abolishing the QC system at that stage, but I cannot justify doing it at this stage.”

Harrison said he supported retaining the appointment of Senior Counsel. “The notion of SC [and QC] is an important element to retain. It was once thought by the ACCC to be anti-competitive. But now they appreciate this is not the case,” Harrison said.

“The title SC [or QC] highlights barristers in their particular fields. This is helpful to the court,” Harrison said.

It was important that people had access to specialists and this title highlighted the availability of specialist advocates in particular, he said.

The chairman of the Bar of England and Wales, Stephen Irwin QC, said the reform plans would help the prospects of rising advocates, especially those from ethnic minorities.

“This is … good news for the legal system since striving to attain the rank of QC is something which underpins high ethical standards, and high quality in the law,” Irwin said.

“The QC brand generates considerable invisible earnings for our professional services sector, creating jobs and underpinning this country as a good jurisdiction in which to do law in a global economy.”

Barristers want to see a fair system, which selects the best advocates from every social and ethnic background, Irwin said.

Twenty per cent of new entrants to the Bar were from ethnic minorities, he said. “The hopes of a rising cohort of non-white advocates, who want to go on to become QCs, can be realised.

“We fully support the approach which means the rank can be removed if someone — usually as a result of a justified complaint — is found to fall below the high standards that Silk implies,” Irwin said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

England’s QC reforms are their own: NSW Bar
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...