The Memo: Keep it on the QC?

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Keep it on the QC?

Alice Gregory - 21 October 2022

If you weren’t on the barristers’ side of Twitter after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, you might have missed the somewhat heated exchange between silks over the transition from QC to KC. Following the passing of the Queen, the almost 2,000 silks in England and Wales will have to change their title from Queen’s Counsel to King’s Counsel. Constitutionally – according to the Demise of the Crown Act 1901 – this change is immediate, and was also advised by the Crown Office. However, some barristers have suggested a kind of grace period to respect the Queen’s passing, though there is no legal foundation to this. Others argued that the change to KC is not only constitutionally correct, but acts as a symbolic way to commemorate the Queen’s passing. This change is an emotional one for many, especially since QC has been the standard title for the last 70 years.

The change is more than just emotional, however, and the admin side of it is (and will continue to be) especially fiddly. KCs will have to update their entire online presence to match the shift: that’s email signatures, online profiles, URLs, websites, and any headings or references on the web. Websites might even have to be re-indexed by Google, which helps sites gain more traffic after they’ve been updated. While the change to QC in 1952 might have simply comprised of the transition from one title to another, silks now have a whole lot more work to do to mark the change of one letter.