Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments First Report


Memorandum by the Lord Chancellor's Department


1. The Lord Chancellor's Department submits this memorandum in response to the request dated 29 October 2002 on the point set out below:

Explain the reasons for the substantial fee increase made by this instrument.

2. This Order came into force on 27 August 2002. It increased the fee for those applying to the Lord Chancellor to be recommended for appointment as Queen's Counsel in England and Wales in the current competition from £335 to £720. The fee had not previously been increased since it was first set in 1999.

3. The amount of the increase, which is significant, is intended to capture the full cost to the Lord Chancellor's Department of considering applications. These costs have increased since the fee was originally set, as the process of considering applications has required increased formalisation and additional staff resources in order to meet the requirements of openness and accountability. The process is now subject to the scrutiny of the First Judicial Appointments Commissioner. The basis of the costing has also been changed to capture more fully the cost to the taxpayer of running the competition.

4. The power to levy a fee for these purposes was introduced in section 45 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 explicitly on the basis that full cost recovery would be sought. The Lord Chancellor remains of the view that there is no justification for subsidising the process.

1st November 2002

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