Stalemate in QC quandry

WA barristers have failed to come to agreement on whether or not they should do away with the distinguished title of Queen’s Counsel.

A recent meeting of the WA Bar Association tied the vote 21 to 21 after the motion was argued for nearly two hours, during which it is understood there were two attempts to adjourn the meeting and a move to gag the motion.

Apart from dropping the QC title in favour of Senior Counsel, it was also proposed that the State’s role in the appointment of QCs should be ended.

It is believed Chairman of the Bar Association, Philip Eaton, chose not to use his casting vote to decide the issue.

Instead, the association is expected to seek a meeting with WA Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, the Chief Justice and the President of the Law Society to resolve some issues before the matter is returned to the members.

Sources say that there are six barristers waiting to hear whether they will be made into silk or senior counsel following the fall of the Liberal Government.

The Bar Association’s agreement is the second last step in the move to drop the QC tag, following the support of the change by the WA Law Society.

Mr McGinty’s approval will also be required, though it is known he is favour of removing politics from the process.

The previous Attorney-General, Peter Foss, had at times been at odds with leaders in the legal community on this issue.

New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT have changed to a system of profession-appointed Senior Counsels and Tasmania has abolished special titles altogether.

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