We sent this letter to the Daily Telegraph, which was published on 6 October,2006, on the subject of Queen’s Counsel. Their abolition began when the Fahey Government in NSW, announced the reform of the legal profession. The other considerable achievement of this reform was to have lawyers officially called “lawyers.”
And by the way, existing QC’s could keep the rank. And as we indicated in our column of 9 September , 2006, even the strongest republican Queen’s Counsel here or in London clings to his rank with all of the passion a dog displays in protecting an old bone. Even a prominent republican leader got very short shrift when he recently tried to persuade a Melbourne republican barrister, one of Her Majesty’s Counsel Learned in the Law, to abandon that rank. (Aren’t republicans fun? I think I need a cartoonist.)
You are so right ( Brad Clifton, editorial 5/10) to raise the scandalous treatment of the outstanding Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, whose expertise and experience would once have been recognized by her being made a Queen’s Counsel, a QC.
The decision on which barristers should be appointed was for long a matter for the Attorney-General , who consulted widely. Not so many years ago, a government anxious to “reform’ the legal profession, inexplicably handed this role over to the lawyers’ trade union. While the new title, Senior Counsel, excited the more obsessed republicans, just imagine the outrage if in any other field of work the union were given this power. The lawyers, in particular, would scream “ conflict of interest.”
Ms. Cunneen’s case demonstrates just how wrong it was to hand this function over to the union. It seems her offence was to criticize the tactics of some defence lawyers. The solution is simple . Bring back the QC’s, and let the Attorney-General, who is accountable to the Parliament decide. The union can go on making SC’s.
Just see which “silk” the public, and indeed the lawyers, rank highest.