When looking at lawyers in the UK, you will come across the term QC and you might wonder what this could mean. You might also be wondering what a criminal QC might be and what they actually do. If you are facing criminal charges in the UK, you need to understand what differentiates a barrister from a criminal QC.

What Is A QC?

A QC or Queen’s Counsel is a senior barrister who has ‘taken silk’. The QC has a long history in the UK and was considered to be higher in rank to the mediaeval lawyer. However, over the years, the appointment system for these professional changes and the title is now awarded based on merit.

When a barrister is awarded the title of a QC, they are said to have taken silk. This is an old saying which relates to the traditional court dress worn by the QC and the junior barrister. When in court dress, the QC will wear a black court coat or a long-sleeved waistcoat which traditionally was made of silk. The junior barrister would wear an open-sleeved black gown which was not made of silk.

Being Awarded The Title Of QC

In order to be awarded the title of QC, a barrister will need to have a proven track record of excellence in advocacy. This will need to be both in written and oral advocacy. The title of QC shows that the barrister is a specialist and recognised as being outstanding in their profession.

Before taking the silk, the barrister will be known as a junior barrister. However, it is important to note that this does not mean that they are newly qualified. Any barrister who is not awarded the title of QC will be called a junior.

Instructing A QC For Your Case

It is possible to instruct a QC for your case and it may be recommended if your case is very complex. However, it is important to note that the fees related to instructing a QC will be much higher than that of a barrister. It is also important to note that there are many barristers who do not have the title QC, but are excellent at their jobs.

There are some QC’s who will specialise in certain areas of the law in the same manner as non-QC barristers will. If you are facing complex criminal charges in the Crown Court, you will need to instruct a criminal QC.

More information on criminal barristers and QCs can be found at the link below: