High fees deter solicitors from applying to take silk
By Chloe Smith » High application fees are deterring solicitors from applying to take silk, according to the body representing solicitor-advocates. The Solicitors’ Association of Higher Courts Advocates (SAHCA) said solicitor-advocates who selffund a QC application end up paying £3,264 more in real terms than the independent bar, after taking into account income tax and VAT. This delays or deters some solicitor-advocates from making an application, it said. And despite the disproportionately high cost to solicitors, they often get fewer commercial benefits than the independent bar from gaining the title, the body added. According to the association, there is only one application from solicitor-advocates and the employed bar to every 14 from the independent bar, despite the independent bar outnumbering solicitor-advocates by only 50%. Firms employing solicitor-advocates are unlikely to support QC applications, the body said, leaving many with no alternative but to self-fund the £1,800 needed. For self-funded solicitors, the real cost of their application would be £3,024, including income tax at 40% and VAT. The subsequent appointment fee of £3,000 would cost selffunded solicitors £5,040, SAHCA said in response to a consultation by QC Appointments. This would put the total cost at £8,064 for solicitors, the body said, 68% more than the costs faced by the independent bar, which can claim back the VAT and claim fees as a taxdeductible expense. It pointed out that the QC mark is also much more beneficial to a self-employed barrister, and also gives considerable benefits to chambers as it is often used in marketing to solicitors. Meanwhile, for some areas of work, such as civil legal aid, solicitors gain no commercial benefit from taking silk.
[Courtesy – The Law Society Gazette]