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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 23:56 GMT 00:56 UK
Record number of new female QCs
More women than ever before have successfully applied for QC status
Record numbers of women have achieved the legal rank of Queen's Counsel under a new appointments scheme.

In the first year of an independent system, 68 women, more than ever, applied to be QCs, with 33 succeeding.

Under the scheme, a selection panel made recommendations to Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, who then passed them on to the Queen.

He said: "The scheme has been very successful and has met all the goals I set for it."

A consultation was launched in 2003 which mooted scrapping the QC system, but it was eventually offered a reprieve.

The 400-year old system of QCs was branded uncompetitive in 2001 by the Office of Fair Trading.

This year's success stories were among a total of 443 applicants for the historic title of QC, which shows seniority and allows practitioners to charge higher fees.

A total of 175 people had their appointments approved, of which 10 were from ethnic minorities - the previous high being 7. Four of those appointed were solicitors.

'Different outcome'

Sir Duncan Nichol, chairman of the Queen's Counsel Selection Panel, rejected suggestions that the new process could cause resentment among men applying for the title.

"It was an entirely evidence-based process," he said. "We have no quotas.

"There were significant changes in the process and the expectation was that would lead to a different outcome, which we believe it did.

"Broadly speaking, they are a broad and more diverse list, particularly with women candidates coming through strongly and in increasing numbers and with a higher success rate than in the past.

Panel member Karamjit Singh said the proportion of those applying from ethnic minorities - a total of 24 - needed further scrutiny before conclusions could be drawn.

"This is a very important area to carry on monitoring," he said. "We very much hope the message going out from the first competition is that appointment is solely on merit."

QC system earns 3-year reprieve
26 May 04 |  UK Politics

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