January 09, 2001
The provincial government is getting out of the business of appointing Queen's Counsel (QC) and is offering a new process and the designation of "Senior Counsel" (SC) to recognize excellence in the legal profession on a non-partisan basis, Attorney General Gord Mackintosh announced today.
The decision follows a reassessment of the practice of appointing QCs and a recent survey of the legal profession indicating that 84 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with the way in which QC appointments are made in Manitoba. A majority of respondents also felt the QC process could be perceived as partisan. About 60 per cent favoured continuing with a new process.
"Appointing local lawyers to assist the Queen of England has long since lost its original meaning and has become archaic," Mackintosh said. "We believe excellence in the legal profession should nevertheless be recognized and are proposing a modern, rigorous and non-political process that will enhance recognition for those appointed Senior Counsel."
The legal profession was the only profession to be recognized by the Manitoba government by the way of such appointments as QC--a tradition that dates back more than 400 years to Elizabethan England. The move to a modern designation of SC has happened in a growing number of Commonwealth jurisdictions, most notably Australia, although Manitoba is the first province in Canada to adopt this model.
The practice, procedure and appointment of Senior Counsel would be set out in the Law Society Act and appointments made by the Law Society of Manitoba. Criteria and the process the province is prepared to support in legislation has been proposed to the Law Society of Manitoba and the Manitoba Bar Association for discussion. Existing QCs would retain their titles.
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PROPOSED CRITERIA AND PROCESS.
Potential Criteria and Process for Appointment of Senior Counsel (SC)
by The Law Society of Manitoba
For discussion purposes