25 Facts About Queen's Counsel


Appointment as King's Queen's Counsel is an office, conferred by the Crown, that is recognised by courts.

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The first Queen's Counsel Extraordinary was Sir Francis Bacon, who was given a patent giving him precedence at the Bar in 1597, and formally styled King's Counsel in 1603.

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New rank of King's Queen's Counsel contributed to the gradual obsolescence of the formerly more senior serjeant-at-law by superseding it.

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King's Queen's Counsel came to prominence during the early 1830s, prior to which they were relatively few in number.

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Gradually, the appointment to the Queen's Counsel shifted from a vocational calling to a badge of honor and prestige.

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Exact position occupied by a Queen's Counsel duly appointed is a subject which might admit of a good deal of discussion.

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Queen's Counsel was originally considered an office of profit and hence, under the Act of Settlement 1701, incompatible with membership of the House of Commons.

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Queen's Counsel were traditionally selected from barristers, or in Scotland, advocates, rather than from lawyers in general, because they were counsel appointed to conduct court work on behalf of the Crown.

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Appointment of new Queen's Counsel was suspended in 2003, and it was widely expected that the system would be abolished.

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In 1997, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Robert Carswell, wrote "I have little doubt myself that this is all part of an ongoing politically-based campaign to have the office of Queen's Counsel replaced by a rank entitled Senior Counsel, or something to that effect".

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In 1897 a petition by the Faculty of Advocates for the establishment of a Scottish roll of Queen's Counsel was approved, and the first appointments were made later in that year.

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The appointment of King's Queen's Counsel is made on the recommendation of the Lord Justice General to the First Minister of Scotland, formerly the Secretary of State for Scotland.

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King's Queen's Counsel are retained in several Commonwealth realms where Charles III is head of state.

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The federal government asserted that it had sole power to appoint Queen's Counsel, because the appointment is an exercise of the royal prerogative and only the federal government could advise the monarch on the exercise of the royal prerogative.

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Since 2015, under the Trudeau Ministry, federal appointment as a Queen's Counsel has been limited to the Attorney General of Canada.

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King's Queen's Counsel are appointed by the provincial Cabinet on the advice of the Attorney General of British Columbia.

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In 2006, the title was renamed Senior Counsel, with the final appointments of Queen's Counsel occurring in 2007, after which the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act came into force.

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In June 2009, Attorney-General Hon Christopher Finlayson announced that the title of Queen's Counsel would be reinstated, and a bill to implement the restoration was introduced into Parliament in March 2010.

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In jurisdictions that have become republics, the office of Queen's Counsel has sometimes been replaced with an equivalent, for example, Senior Counsel in Barbados, South Africa, Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana; Senior Advocate in Nigeria, India and Bangladesh; and President's Counsel in Sri Lanka.

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In Hong Kong, the rank of Queen's Counsel was granted when it was a crown colony and a British dependent territory.

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The title of Senior Queen's Counsel was introduced in the Irish Free State in July 1924.

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President's Queen's Counsel is a professional rank, as their status is conferred by the president, recognised by the courts and wear silk gowns of a special design.

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Queen's Counsel has a black "stuff" gown over his suit, and wears a short wig of horsehair.

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Ceremonial occasions, King's Queen's Counsel wear black breeches and black stockings instead of trousers, and patent leather court shoes with buckles.

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When wearing the full bottomed wig, King's Queen's Counsel have a black rosette hanging from the back of the neck, which was originally intended to catch oil and powder that might otherwise mark the silk gown.

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