The Attorney General maintains four panels of
junior counsel to undertake civil and EU work for all Government
Departments. These are in addition to the two First Treasury Counsel
who do exclusively Government work, James Eadie QC and Jonathan
Swift QC; and to the Standing Counsel to certain Departments.
The main panels are normally advertised in October
in Counsel Magazine. Standing Counsel posts are advertised as they
There are three London panels (an A panel for senior
juniors, a B panel for middle juniors and a C panel for junior juniors)
and a Regional panel. The size of each panel is determined by need.
Although appointment to any of the Panels cannot be a guarantee
that work will be available, it is intended that each advocate appointed
should be given at least a minimum amount of work, and a monitoring
process is in place for this purpose. In order to increase the opportunity
for appointment or promotion within the panels, appointments are
for a limited period, with the possibility of renewal at the end
of that period. The performance of each individual member of the
Panels is also monitored. There are currently around 427 members
of the Attorney General’s civil panels.
The Role of the Law Officers
The Law Officers have responsibility for the approval of counsel
instructed on behalf of Government. This responsibility is discharged
in relation to civil cases through the establishment and management
of the Civil Panels. Both Law Officers take a keen ongoing interest
in panel counsel. They approve appointments and receive regular
feedback on the instruction and performance of panel counsel.
They are also interested in ongoing policy development to ensure
that the operation of the panels is as effective as possible to
the benefit of both Government and counsel. They operate an equal
opportunities policy in relation to the panels and are concerned
to ensure that counsel instructed on behalf of Government are
of the highest calibre. The Law Officers recognise that the role
is a demanding one and take pride in the work carried out by panel
All Government departments must use the Panels.
Agencies of Government Departments must also use the Panels. Non
Departmental Public Bodies are not obliged to use Panel Counsel
but are encouraged to do so. If they wish to go off panel they must
notify the Attorney General’s Office.