Welcome to the QC Appointments website


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The award of Queen’s Counsel is for excellence in advocacy in the higher courts.  It is made to advocates who have rights of audience in the higher courts of England and Wales and have demonstrated the competencies in the Competency Framework to a standard of excellence.

Advocacy includes both written and oral advocacy before the higher courts, arbitrations and tribunals and equivalent bodies. The advocacy may be in written or oral form but must relate to developing and advancing a client’s or employer’s case to secure the best outcome for the client in a dispute.

Applications are welcome from all suitably qualified advocates – including solicitors and employed advocates, as well as barristers  in independent practice. Applications are also particularly welcomed from women, members of ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and other groups that are currently under-represented.

2016-17 Competition is now closed for applications

Applications for the 2016-17 competition closed at 5pm on Thursday 24 March 2016.   The form for the 2016-17 Competition is available for download via the ‘Quick Downloads’ link on the right, this is for reference only.

Applications Received 2016

The table below sets out the key monitoring information from this competition compared with the previous competition. The headline facts are:

  • The number of applicants has increased from 237 last year to 254 this year. This is the highest number of applicants since 2009
  • 13 solicitors have applied this year, slightly up from last year
  • Six employed barristers have applied this year, last year the number was 2;
  • There is almost the same proportion of female applicants as last year. The proportion has been fairly stable for a few years now.
  • The proportion of applicants declaring an ethnic background other than white remains around 15%.

 Characteristics of applicants in 2016 and the previous year

All applicants 2016

Total 254


Total 237

Number % Number %
Male 193 76 179 75
Female 55 22 47 20
Not declared 6 2 11 5
Barrister 235 93 226 95
Barrister Employed in-house 6 2 2 1
Solicitor 13 5 9 4
White 207 81 195 82
Declared an ethnic background other than white 37 15 32 14
Not declared 10 4 10 4
Bisexual 1 0.4 0 0.0
Gay man 6 2.4 11 4.6
Gay woman/lesbian 2 0.8 1 0.4
Heterosexual 216 85.0 199 84.0
Not declared/prefer not to say 29 11.4 26 11.0
Declared disability 4 2 4 2

Update 2016

Interviews took place in late September, October, and early November.  The Selection Panel’s recommendations were passed to the Lord Chancellor in November. It is expected that the appointments arising from this competition will be announced in early 2017.

Feedback 2016

Applicants who were not called for interview this year should have received their feedback on Thursday 6 October.  If an applicant has not received their feedback please contact the QCA Secretariat.  This year we are publishing a note which explains the approach the Panel takes to the provision of feedback and it can be downloaded here.

QC Ceremony 2017

We do not yet have a confirmed date for the ceremony for those appointed in the 2016-17 Competition, but we currently expect it to be held in week commencing 13 February 2017.

Profiles of Applicants appointed 2016

Please find below a Forward from the current Chairman of the QC Selection Panel:

Helen Pitcher OBE

This is the second set of profiles we have prepared of a selection of newly appointed QCs, following the initial set published in 2015.

The original purpose was to demonstrate that, whatever may have been the position in the past, appointment as QC is no longer effectively confined to white, male, barristers, educated at public school and at Oxbridge. It is of course still important to get across the message that, so far as it rests within the power of the QC Selection Panel, appointment as QC is now equally available to all higher courts’ advocates, regardless of race, gender, educational background or other extraneous personal characteristic. The sole test is excellence in all the competencies which go up to make excellence as an advocate, not personal background.

However, we have also found that interviewing newly appointed QCs and preparing these profiles provides us with a rich source of feedback on the appointment process. It is plain that, despite all our efforts, a number of those from less traditional backgrounds feel that aspects of the appointment process, as well as practice as an advocate more generally, can disadvantage those from non-traditional backgrounds. Since that feedback comes from applicants who have themselves succeeded in the competition perhaps makes it even more powerful. My colleagues and I on the Selection Panel are determined to do all we can to address those issues ourselves, and to alert the professional bodies to issues which arise from practice as an advocate more generally.

The pen pictures which follow are all of applicants appointed in 2016. We are very grateful to them for agreeing to participate, and for giving up their time to be interviewed. We hope that their stories will be of interest to prospective applicants in 2017 and beyond.

Helen Pitcher OBE
Chairman, QC Selection Panel
July 2016

A link to the profiles can be found here.

QCA Survey of Applicants 2015-16

For the third year, QCA surveyed applicants to seek their views about some aspects of the appointment process.  A report of the results is here.  Results from previous competitions can be found under the section ‘Completed Competitions’. We expect to repeat this exercise on an annual basis.


If you would like to comment on the way the competition is currently run, or provide suggestions for the future, please use the feedback form on this site, link to the left, or write to the address under Contact Us.



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