King's Counsel

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The higher rank among barristers in New Ingerland is that of King's Counsel (postnominal KC), or Queen's Counsel (postnominal QC) during the reign of a Queen. The particular eminence of King's Counsel entitles them lead in court, and give opinions on cases submitted to them, but they do not accept conveyancing or pleading, nor do they admit pupils to their chambers. Precedence among King's Counsel, as well as among outer barristers, is determined by seniority.

A King's Counsel is appointed by letters patent to be one of "His Majesty's counsel learned in the law." The appointment rests with the Judicial Appointments Commission, an independent crown statutory agency chaired by the Lord Chancellor, to whom any barrister desiring to "take silk"[1] must submit an application. There is no definite time required to elapse between "call" and application for a seat within the bar, but it is generally understood that a barrister must be of at least ten years' standing before he is appointed a King's Counsel. A King's Counsel may not, unless by special licence, take a brief against the crown, but such a licence is never refused unless the crown desires his services in the case.

References and notes

  1. The phrase "take silk" is used in legal circles to refer to any individual who has successfully applied to become a King's Counsel.