The number of applications for silk has dropped for the third year running with only two solicitors among the 183 applicants, figures released by the independent selection panel revealed today.
In 2011, there were 214 applications, compared with 251 in 2010 which was down from 275 in 2009. Of those who applied this year, 155 (85%) were male and 26 (14%) female, similar percentages to last year.
The number of applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds was up on last year, with 21 applications (12%) compared with 15 (7%). Three of the total were from employed barristers.
Looking at the fields of law of the applicants, 131 were civil, 54 were criminal, and nine were family.
The QC scheme is entirely self-financing. To cover the costs of the process applicants pay an application fee of £1,950 + VAT. Those who are appointed pay a further of £3,500 (+ VAT). These fees are unchanged from last year.
Applications are considered by a nine-member selection panel chaired by a lay member Helen Pitcher, who has replaced Professor Dame Joan Higgins, who has stood down after six years.
The panel's recommendations will be passed to the lord chancellor, who will put recommendations to the Queen. The lord chancellor has no power to veto names or to add names of his own. It is expected that the new appointments will be announced early in 2013.