The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) intends to recommend a number of people to Her Majesty for appointment as Queen’s Counsel ‘causa’ (honorary silk) in spring 2015. We’re inviting both the legal sector and the wider public to make nominations.
How to make a nomination
We welcome nominations for honorary silk from anyone. If you’d like to suggest someone for appointment, please provide the following information:
- the person’s full name
- their contact details, if you know them
- their legal qualifications, if you know them
- your reasons for believing that the person you are nominating has made a major contribution to the law of England and Wales outside practice in the courts
Please tell us:
- what the person has done, where, and (if appropriate) for whom
- how, in your opinion, this amounts to a major contribution - beyond what might normally be expected for someone in this person’s position
Please give as much detail as you can. The more we know about a nominee, the easier it is to assess whether they meet the honorary silk criteria. If we have only a limited amount of information about someone, it’s unlikely that we can recommend them for appointment.
You can nominate as many people as you like, but please ensure that you keep their details separate.
You need to complete the nomination form and send it to us by 12 September 2014 preferably by email, or post to:
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
Email: Joanna Sawyers
Please note, we’ll only accept nominations on the form attached to this webpage. Letters of support for a candidate won’t be accepted or attached to a nomination. In cases where more than one person wishes to nominate a single candidate, each individual must send in a separate form for the nominee. This gives a fuller representation of the candidate’s suitability for honorary silk.
Criteria for appointment
In making a nomination you should ensure that your nominee meets the criteria set out below:
- The award is open only to qualified lawyers and to legal academics. However, although the substantive QC rank can be awarded only to lawyers with rights of audience in the higher courts, the honorary rank is not so limited. It is available to any lawyer, whether in private practice, working as an employed lawyer, or in public service. ‘Public service’ includes any public-sector organisation - national government, local government, or other public bodies such as the CPS or the NHS - and also lawyers working in bodies such as charities or not-for-profit agencies.
- Honorary silk is awarded to lawyers and legal academics that have made a major contribution to the law of England and Wales outside practice in the courts, which has not been recognised through other forms of honours.
- ‘Major contribution to the law of England and Wales’ can be interpreted widely. It means not only contributions to the development of the law, but also to people’s understanding of it, their ability to make use of it, and its promotion. This potentially covers a wide range of activities so, while it is difficult to give a definitive list we would like to make it clear that we are happy to consider accomplishments in any area.
- ‘Outside practice in the courts’ will generally mean that the award is made for an achievement other than a person’s normal practice as a lawyer or academic, which also brings with it a significant degree of public benefit. However, there is no definite boundary to this - for instance, the development of pro bono work is usually closely associated with practice. We would also consider particular distinction in both practice and academic law.
Please note that:
- We recognise that those who are not lawyers or legal academics make equally valuable contributions to public life, and may have done so in similar fields, but we regret that the award of honorary silk is not available for such contributions. If you feel that someone in that position ought to be recognised, you can instead nominate them for an honour. If anyone is nominated for honorary silk who has been nominated for an honour this year or has already been honoured in the last year, it’s unlikely that we can put their name forward.
- Honorary QC is not a ‘working rank’. It cannot be used in practice as a lawyer and, although this has never been a problem, we strongly discourage holders from exploiting the rank to attract business. This does mean, regrettably, that honorary silk cannot be awarded as an alternative to the substantive QC rank for people who, for whatever reason, do not fit its eligibility criteria.
- Honorary silk is awarded only in England and Wales. There is no exact equivalent to it for Scotland or Northern Ireland. This does not, of course, mean that achievements of this nature cannot be recognised in those jurisdictions. The honours system is able to do that. If you’d like to nominate someone whose work is in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can contact the Scottish Executive or the Northern Ireland Court Service.
The next substantive QC appointments are planned for spring 2015 and we expect to include honorary silk appointments with them. In line with standard practice, we’d like as much time as possible for nominations to be made, but we do need time to consider them and decide who should be recommended to Her Majesty. Because of this, please ensure that your nominations reach us no later than 12 September 2014. If we receive nominations after this date, we’ll do our best to include them, but we can’t guarantee that they will be considered.
If you’d like more information about honorary silk or how to make a nomination, feel free to contact us by phone on 020 3334 4270, or by email Joanna Sawyers.