The ceremony is held every year in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster in London.
It awards the rank of Queen’s Counsel to either practising barristers or practising solicitors with Higher Courts Rights of Audience, who have demonstrated excellence in the higher courts.
The honorary rank is made to lawyers, including legal academics, who have made a major contribution to the law of England and Wales outside practice in the courts. It is not a ‘working title’ and cannot be used by the holders in practice.
Because members wear silk gowns of a particular design, the award of Queen’s Counsel is also known as ‘taking silk’.
The appointment of QCs is run by an independent selection panel, which makes its recommendations to the Lord Chancellor, who passes them on to Her Majesty The Queen if he is satisfied with them.
Nominations for Honorary Queen’s Counsel are made to the Lord Chancellor, who on the advice of an independent panel organised by the Ministry of Justice, makes recommendations to The Queen.
The competition for Silk 2011-12 is now open and applications close on 20 April. An announcement about nominations for Honorary Queen’s Counsel will be made in early summer.