Thursday, 24 November 2016

The title of "Senior Counsel" or "Queen's Counsel"

should be reserved for the very best of the legal profession. It should be a rare honour bestowed upon a very few. Those granted the title should also be working  as barristers. They should have a string of successful court appearances behind them. That does not mean they should always have "won" the case but that they have served their clients well and obtained the best possible outcome for them.
The Attorney-General in this state has just applied for and been granted that honour. It was a mistake.
He should not have applied. Those responsible should not have granted it.
It might be seen as "unfair" but the Attorney-General is a politician. He may have a legal role in politics but he is not working as a barrister. He has been in parliament for fourteen years. It is highly unlikely that he has kept up to date with the minutiae of what is going on in the legal profession. That's important. 
Of course the Supreme Court - which approves the appointment of an SC - was placed in an impossible position. They were going to be criticised if they made the appointment and they were going to be criticised they did not make the appointment. They apparently saw the making of the appointment as the lesser of two evils. To suggest in any  way that they do not have confidence in the Attorney-General would not  have been a wise move, particularly if the government is returned at the election  in March next year.  Obviously the Attorney-General knew that and used it to his advantage. 
Labor has been in power in this state for the past sixteen years. Labor did not actually win the last election. The result was a hung parliament. They have had to rely on  "independents" in order to retain government. One of  those was the local MP who switched sides without the consent of his electorate. 
Anything could happen in March next year - or perhaps the Attorney-General has a crystal ball and already knows what the result will be? He says he is contesting the next election so....


Anonymous said...

Well, that is one way to devalue a title.

Philip C James said...

I understood Queen's Counsel (QC) to mean that the barrister is permitted to appear on behalf of the Crown in the UK, ie as the prosecuting barrister in criminal cases brought by the Criminal Prosecution Service. So a working title rather than an honorific (though no doubt some consider it such). Is it different in Oz?

catdownunder said...

A QC/SC is considered to be very senior. They can appear for anyone, not just the Crown. They will normally go into court with a "junior", i.e. another barrister, to assist and will usually work only on cases of great complexity or where something like a murder charge is involved.