Queen's Counsel restored
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 19 June 2009

The New Zealand government is to be congratulated for once again turning back the wave of creeping republicanism, where politicians, without any mandate, remove the symbols of the Crown.

The title of Queen's Counsel is to be restored through legislation that will be introduced to Parliament later this year, according to the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson.

The title Senior Counsel, introduced by the previous government in 2008, will be removed by the legislation. The title suffers in standing with the title Queen’s Counsel which is instantly recognizable. The award of Senior Counsel by the NSW bar was damaged by the refusal for some time to grant the title to an outstanding barrister who had criticised, as she saw it,  the way in which the law and the defence bar was over protective of the accused.  The pendulum she said had gone too far.

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The Attorney General hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that the title Queen's Counsel is instantly recognised as providing a certain standard of legal advice both among the New Zealand public and internationally.

 "The Government is taking these steps to protect the essential independence of the inner bar.The looser rules for eligibility as Senior Counsel introduced by the previous government threatened to dilute the independence of our most senior advocates."

Senior Counsel appointed last year would have the option of adopting the title of Queen's Counsel or remaining as Senior Counsel. This decision follows its reversal of the abolition of the titles of Knight and Dame from the NZ honours awards.

The rank of Queen’s Counsel was first abolished in Australia by a New South Wales Liberal Government, which shows that the unhealthy obsession of attacking the institution which is above politics is not limited to one side.   Let us hope that the next NSW government leads the way and restores the title. It should probably be offered first to SC's.