The rank of King’s Counsel is generally reserved for those who have distinguished themselves in practice in the Supreme Courts. Advocates and Solicitors with Rights of Audience in the Supreme Courts are eligible to apply to the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s senior judge.
Before making nominations to the First Minister, the Lord Justice General consults other judges, the Lord Advocate, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the President of the Law Society of Scotland.
There is no fixed quota of King’s Counsel to be appointed at any time. The Lord Justice General endeavours to ensure, in the interests of the public, clients and the courts, that an adequate number of King’s Counsel generally, and in
specific areas of specialisation, is maintained.
HistoryBefore 1868 the rank of King’s Counsel was not recognised in Scotland. It was first conferred in that year. Initially the status was reserved first for law officers and soon after for the Dean of Faculty.
In 1897 a petition by the Faculty for the establishment of a Scottish roll of King’s Counsel was approved. The first appointments were made later in that year.
In 2002 the first appointment of a solicitor advocate was made, following the introduction of extended rights of audience by section 24 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990. A solicitor advocate who is so appointed is correctly designated as “King’s Counsel, Solicitor Advocate”.
The appointment of King’s Counsel is made by His Majesty the King on the recommendation of the First Minister, who seeks nominations for that purpose from the Lord Justice General.
Applications are normally invited by advertisement on an annual basis. There are separate application forms for members of the Faculty and solicitor advocates. Details of invitations to apply will be posted here. A guide for applicants is available to view on the Judiciary of Scotland website
Procedure to remove title of King’s Counsel
The procedure for the removal of the title of King’s Counsel in Scotland can be found here.
Completed forms requesting removal should be submitted to Paul Gilmour, the Lord President’s Private Secretary.Once submitted, a panel comprising the Lord Justice General, the Lord Justice Clerk and the Lord Advocate will consider the application. As part of this, the panel will consult the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland.
When a decision is taken to progress, the panel will forward a recommendation for the removal of the King’s Counsel title to the First Minister. The First Minister, if in agreement, would then write to inform His Majesty the King they were of the view that the Letters Patent should be revoked from the King’s Counsel.
The Letters Patent could then be revoked if His Majesty was in agreement. Thereafter, the individual concerned would no longer be able to use the title of King’s Counsel.