Publication - Independent report

Appointment of Queen's Counsel in Scotland 2016

Published: 20 Sep 2016
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Law and order

Independent report on the fairness and objectivity of the Queen's Counsel appointment process in Scotland.

10 page PDF

271.3 kB

10 page PDF

271.3 kB

Appointment of Queen's Counsel in Scotland 2016
Analysis of information considered

10 page PDF

271.3 kB

Analysis of information considered

Guide for applicants.

The Guide was updated in March 2016 and can be found at the Judiciary of Scotland website: This provides a link to the application forms for both Advocates and Solicitor Advocates and an explanation of the application procedure. Contact details for the Lord Justice General’s private secretary are provided for enquiries and general feedback on unsuccessful applications. The criteria required for recommendation for appointment as Queen’s Counsel in Scotland are set out and an explanation of the process is provided.

Timetable and advertisements.

Advertisements were published in March 2016. The closing date for applications was 1 April 2016. Applications were submitted to the Lord Justice General’s office, and the advertisement provided the name and contact details of his Private Secretary for any enquiries in relation to the appointment round.

Advertisements were placed with: Thomson Reuters; Herald Times Group (S1 jobs - 4 March, Sunday Herald - 6 March, The Herald - 4 and 11 March, and - 3 March); Johnston Publishing Ltd (Scotland on Sunday - 6 March, The Scotsman - 4 and 11 March and Scotsman Recruitment - 4 March); Law Society of Scotland – 4 March;, Law Society Journal, Judicial website and the Scots Law Times.

Number of applications received from Advocates and Solicitor Advocates in 2016 and since 2004/5.

Year 2016 Advocates 23 Solicitor – Advocates 8
2015 20 5
2014 20 2
2013 26 5
2012 26 4
2011 26 4
2010 23 3
2009 25 1
2008 32 5
2006/7 38 6
2004/5 36 11

Recommendations by the Lord Justice General to the First Minister for Scotland.

Thirteen applicants have been recommended by the Lord Justice General to the First Minister. Twelve advocates (6 female and 6 male) and one solicitor advocate (male).

Equality Act 2000 monitoring.

All applicants completed the Equalities monitoring form.

Gender of applicants.
23 Advocates (9 female and 14 male)
8 Solicitor Advocates (one female and 7 male)
Black or ethnic group other than white/Scottish or white/British - none
Disability Applicants who declared a disability - one.
Age and year of calling/qualification
Applicants declared years of birth ranging from 1937 to 1975.
Advocates called to the Bar since 2000 - 7; prior to 2000 - 16
Solicitor Advocates qualified since 2000 - 5; prior to 2000 - 3.
The equalities monitoring form did not gather information relating to other Protected Characteristics as defined by section 4 of the Equalities Act 2010.

Senators’ Assessments.

The Lord Justice General provided an opportunity for 28 Senators of the College of Justice to comment on the applicants in confidence. The Senators were provided with copies of the applicants’ self-assessments, the Guide for applicants including the criteria for recommendation and an assessment form for each applicant.

The assessment form allowed Senators to grade each applicant.

The first section of the assessment form provides an opportunity for each Senator to comment on his/her knowledge of the applicant and how recent that knowledge is.

The second section invites comment on the criteria for recommendation identified in the Guide – Advocacy Skills, Legal Ability and Practice and Professional Qualities.

The third section allows the Senator to grade the application as follows:

A Well fitted for Silk now and sufficiently outstanding to merit appointment this year.
B Possibly ready for Silk now but not in the front rank of applicants for appointment this year.
C Not obviously fitted for Silk at present.
D Not fitted for Silk.
P This application is premature.
N Insufficient knowledge of the applicant to express a view.

Discussion with the Lord Justice General.

I met Lord Carloway on 6 June, and with Lord Carloway and Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk on 14 June 2016 to discuss the appointment process, the applications and his recommendations. The Lord Justice General provided his reasoning in relation to all the applicants, having carefully analysed the applications, references and the comments made by senators. He had discussed his recommendations with the Lord Justice Clerk. He provided me with an explanation for each recommendation. His recommendations reflected his desire to ensure that there is a suitable range of expertise available for instruction in the upper courts in Scotland. After these discussions, I was satisfied that the reasoning and decision making in relation to all candidates was robust and consistent with the guidance and criteria for recommendation.


Email: Freya Liddle,