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.
THE 2020 COMPETITION
The main application period for the 2020 QC competition closed at 5pm on 1 April. However, for those prospective applicants for whom an extension has been agreed as a result of disruption arising from the Covid-19 emergency, it will be possible to register up to 5pm on 6 April.
We would appreciate it if those applicants could also submit their applications by 5pm on 6 April if possible. However, if that is not possible, the online portal will remain open for the submission of applications by those for whom an extension has been agreed until 9am on 14 April, provided those applicants have registered by 5pm on 6 April.
The QCA Directors have also decided to extend the concessionary fee arrangements, under which those with earnings of less than £60,000 are entitled to pay half the usual fees. The scheme will now apply to those who have low earnings in 2020, not just to those with low earnings in 2019. Applicants who expect that to apply to them should simply pay the application fee at the concessionary rate. Once applications for the competition have closed, the QCA secretariat will contact all those who have paid the concessionary fee to establish whether they have done so on the basis of their 2019 earnings or on the basis of their anticipated 2020 earnings. The QCA secretariat will write again to those applicants at the end of the competition to check whether their earnings were in fact below £60,000, or whether they now need to pay the balance of the fee.
We aim to run the 2020 QC Competition in as normal a way as present circumstances permit. We are hopeful that that will be possible as most of the Selection Panel’s processes are carried out online. Assessment collection is carried out online, as is the grading of applications by Selection Panel members. Accordingly, so long as the Selection Panel is able to meet in September, and to interview applicants in September and October, we expect it to be possible for the Selection Panel to complete its work on time. However, if it is not possible for those activities to be carried out in September and October it is very likely that the announcement of the outcome of the 2020 competition will be delayed.
All being well, applicants will be informed in early September whether or not they are to be invited for interview. Interviews will take place from mid-September to mid-October. The Selection Panel’s recommendations will be passed to the Lord Chancellor in late October. It is hoped that the appointments arising from this competition will be announced before Christmas 2020.
Prospective applicants are welcome to email the Chief Executive at Russell.Wallman@qcappointments.org if they have any questions arising from this. The office is staffed only intermittently at present, so it will take some time before we can respond to any telephone messages.
We will update this website periodically throughout the competition.
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. You can download all forms required to become a member of the Queen’s Counsel by clicking here.