The QC Appointments Panel (QCAP) is presently seeking views of Higher Court Solicitor Advocates on whether the level of fees for applicants for QC status is a disincentive to applications from Solicitor Advocates.
The full text of the consultation can be found here. If you are interested in this issue and wish to offer ideas for a SACHA response then please do go to the consultation paper and then come back to us with any ideas.
From the discussions that the Committee have undertaken so far issues over Solicitor Advocate applications for silk seem to be rather wider than just fees.
For publically funded criminal litigation a move to QC status could easily see a Solicitor Advocate then unable to participate in many of the cases for which they would previously been eligible. No change is being offered here and it may well be that it would be useful feedback to the QCAP and if we could give some idea of the extent of concern of our members as to whether appointment as QC would be a positive disadvantage to their workloads.
A further concern we anticipate is a simple lack of peer group experience of the process of application and the suitability to be an applicant with reasonable chance of success.
The assumption is that mentoring over whether to apply for Silk is readily available at the Bar but not so for Solicitor Advocates. If this is a concern that is widely felt, ideas on how that might be addressed would be welcome.
Guidance to Applicants is available through the QCAP and its Secretariat are willing to discuss general matters by telephone but both of these may still be felt to leave applicants unsure of whether in principle their present level of practice and experience is suitable for making a QC application. If there is more that could be offered by the QCAP, recognising that it would be open to all applicants to read, what questions would potential applicants be interested in posing and having answers to? Reporting to the QCAP on these could be very helpful.
On the issue being addressed by the consultation, application fees, then it may be particularly helpful if people who have, or seriously considered making, a QC application, (anonymously or otherwise) could state what level of application fee they feel might have been appropriate to their practice area.
Please note the consultation ends on 31 December 2015 December and any suggestions would need to be received by the SAHCA Secretary, Adam Tear, by 23 December 2015. AdamT@DuncanLewis.com