Summary of the silk process 2019:

  • The deadline is 5pm on Wed 28th March 2019
  • The application form is online only with no way to export, download or print ……. so useful to prepare your self-assessment in Word first
  • No major changes other than those anticipated following the consultation with the Bar Council and the Law Society around the number of assessors
  • You can use cases going back 3 years without needing to justify why – they would prefer 2 years as memories fade beyond 2 years, but you can use 3 year cases if necessary.  They suggest you avoid using cases 3 years+, but you can if you justify it
  • You need 12 cases, if possible, of your most important cases in last 2/3 years.  Worth checking in advance with QCA if aiming to use fewer than 12 cases, to pass your reasons why past them first, but there seems to be more flexibility if you have a strong reason and don’t have cases that go back beyond 3 years either
  • New Assessor Requirements: Name a judge for each case listed, where possible, so up to 12 – Name practitioners for each case listed, where possible, so up to 12 – Name 6 clients.  So potential total of 30 assessors
  • Still going to 4 x Judges; 3 x practitioners; 2 x Clients and you get to 1st/2nd nominate in each category, as before for assessments
  • Stronger wording in the Guidance around what you can send to potential assessors – written work only – but can ask if assessor thinks you are ready to apply more easily
  • Need good reason if don’t have the number of assessors (12-12-6) and indeed the form includes a tick box to show you know that your application will be materially affected if you have significantly fewer than expected number of assessors
  • They prefer opponents as useful practitioner assessors if you were alone or case leader – and leader if led – in both cases, especially if they are QCs
  • Avoid having majority of practitioner assessors from your own chambers/firm
  • For Law & Advocacy, the evidence from assessors is most significant element for QCA panel; for Working with Others and Diversity, evidence from interview plays a more significant role
  • Tweaks to competency framework around advocates duty to court in Advocacy; upholding standards of behaviour in Working with Others; and respects the needs and cultural wishes of others in Diversity
  • The Narrative Description of practice has 4,000 characters to describe your practice and justify your 12 cases
  • There remains a limit of 2,750 characters per competency in the self-assessment – this is about 400-450 words MAX
  • Of particular importance in oral advocacy is XX and X-in-C, if your practice encompasses this
  • In the assessor section, there are 1,000 characters to describe your cases
  • If you see a case at first instance and on appeal, only list the case once – but OK if case covers substantially different issues
  • If you are using a case that is on-going, it needs to have had a sufficiently substantive hearing or development to be included – and don’t have too many on-going cases
  • You can send skeletons to assessors in advance when you ask them if they are prepared to be an assessor and we would encourage you to do so – no other material – just a reminder of the case
  • Diversity is only section that can explicitly use sitting/arbitrator examples now as it can relate to your wider professional life
  • Integrity – there is normally no need to complete this section
  • There is wider clarification of the relevant jurisdictions in Part One of the Guidance – make sure you ring the QCA if you have Qs about jurisdictions such as NI, IoM, international arbitrations etc
  • Interviews will be held in London and Manchester mid-September to early October – results will be announced in December 2019
  • Fees are the same as last year – £1,800+VAT to apply (those who earn <£60K are entitled to a concessionary applic rate of £900+VAT) – then there is the £3,000+VAT appointment fee if you are successful
  • Sir Alex Allan chairs the panel and Sir Christopher Clarke, Dr Douglas Board and Celia Hughes have joined the panel

We would also recommend that you read the reports from the last competition including the detailed review of the competencies via this link.

Get in touch asap if you want to get a first draft date in the diary, as slots fill up very quickly.