‘Queen’s Counsel’ no extra, ‘King’s Counsel’ return to UK courts after 70 years By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A barrister is seen throughout a strike by felony barristers outdoors Manchester Crown Courtroom in Manchester, Britain, June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Phil Noble/


By Karen Sloan

(Reuters) – The previous Prince Charles isn’t the one one getting used to having “King” in his title hastily.

About 1,900 elite UK attorneys and lots of of others in Commonwealth international locations who held the rank of “Queen’s Counsel” turned “King’s Counsel” when Queen Elizabeth died final week, immediately assuming a title that had gathered mud because the queen took the throne in 1952.

They have to now use the shorthand KC fairly than QC on letterhead and different supplies, in accordance with The Bar Council, which represents greater than 1,650 barristers in England and Wales. Barristers are UK litigators who argue in court docket, whereas solicitors are basic practitioners who sometimes don’t.

“The change of our names shall be a continuing reminder that the Queen has gone,” stated London-based King’s Counsel Lord Peter Goldsmith, a companion at legislation agency Debevoise & Plimpton and who was the UK’s legal professional basic from 2001 to 2007.

There are additionally sensible ramifications. Attorneys took to social media quickly after the queen’s demise describing a scramble to replace profiles on legislation agency web sites and discussing the price of new stationery — alongside many references to the disco and funk music group KC and the Sunshine Band.

“It would definitely take a while to get used to ‘KC’,” stated Jeffrey Sullivan, a London-based companion at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and King’s Counsel. “I think about there shall be a couple of slip ups over the following few months as attorneys, judges and purchasers alter to the brand new title.”

The rank is little identified in the US however a well-known characteristic of the authorized hierarchy in Commonwealth international locations from Australia and New Zealand to Jamaica and components of Canada. It’s reserved for senior and extremely revered attorneys and has traditionally been bestowed upon barristers, although the method opened as much as British solicitors in 1996.

Those that maintain the title in Britain are informally referred to as “silks” — a reference to the particular silk robes they put on in court docket together with the normal wigs sported by many barristers. They’re appointed by the Crown following a years-long utility course of.

King’s Counsel get pleasure from a number of casual privileges, together with front-row seats in court docket. Additionally they are likely to cost extra for his or her providers.

Quite a few British tv reveals have been based mostly on the exploits of Queen’s Counsel, together with the 1990’s authorized drama Kavanagh QC, and 2011’s Silk, which follows a barrister on her quest to win the rank. Extra not too long ago, Michelle Dockery performed a Queen’s Counsel prosecuting a politician accused of rape within the Netflix (NASDAQ:) 2022 miniseries Anatomy of a Scandal.

The system dates to 1597, when Queen Elizabeth I named Sir Francis Bacon as the primary Queen’s Counsel. However it was almost abolished 20 years in the past amid criticism that it was too secretive, that it was dominated by white males, and that it was inappropriate for the Crown to bestow a title on attorneys which will give them an edge over their friends.

Officers finally retained the system however modified the choice course of to permit for extra in depth evaluation of candidates.

The changeover to King’s Counsel might deliver with it contemporary requires reform. However for now, members of the membership like Paul Mitchard, a retired companion at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Hong Kong, are settling in to their new title.

“KC has a form of historical ring to it,” Mitchard stated.

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