Applications for Senior Counsel

Legal practitioners may apply to be granted a Patent of Precedence under Section 174 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. A grant of a Patent of Precedence allows a solicitor or barrister to use the title of Senior Counsel. On this page you can find out when and how to apply to the Advisory Committee on the grant of Patents of Precedence which makes recommendations to Government. Applications for the 2021 process closed on 5 February 2021. This page will be further updated when the process for 2022 opens.

Applications to the Advisory Committee on the grant of Patents of Precedence

Applications are currently closed for solicitors and barristers to apply to the Advisory Committee on the grant of Patents of Precedence to use the title of Senior Counsel.

The Advisory Committee was established under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 on 2 April 2020. The second round of the Patents of Precedence process, for recommendations to be made by the Advisory Committee to Government in 2021, was open from 4 December 2020 to 5 February 2021.

The Advisory Committee has established the criteria – as set out in the objectives in section 173(2) of the Act – to be met by a legal practitioner in order for a recommendation to be made by the Advisory Committee to the Government that a Patent of Precedence be granted to him or her.

The grant of a Patent of Precedence in relation to a barrister entitles him or her to be called to the Inner Bar and to use the title of Senior Counsel; in relation to a solicitor, it entitles him or her to use the title of Senior Counsel.

Advisory Committee on the grant of Patents of Precedence

The Advisory Committee on the grant of Patents of Precedence makes recommendations to the Government to grant a patent to a legal practitioner (solicitor or barrister). The Legal Services Regulatory Authority provides clerical and administrative assistance to the Advisory Committee. Membership of the Advisory Committee is set out in the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. The Advisory Committee consists of:

  • The Chief Justice (Chairperson of the Committee),
  • The President of the Court of Appeal,
  • The President of the High Court,
  • The Attorney General,
  • The Chairperson of the Bar Council,
  • The President of the Law Society and
  • Dr Don Thornhill, a lay member of the Authority (and its chair) nominated by the Minister for Justice.

For more detail on the process, please read the Guidance for Applicants for a Patent of Precedence document.

How to Apply

Important Notice: The 2021 applications process is now closed. This page will be further updated when the process for 2022 opens.

It is important to read the Guidance for Applicants for a Patent of Precedence document before completing an application. A legal practitioner who wishes to be granted a Patent must send:

  • A completed application form including a signed and dated Declaration.
  • A Tax Clearance Certificate (or equivalent for applicants outside the State) that is in force.
  • Links to electronic copies of any articles or publications, where relevant.
  • Two references, one of which is to be from a current or former judge at any level and one from a legal practitioner. The references must be sent directly to the below email address by the individual referees for the attention of the Secretary to the Advisory Committee.

by email to [email protected]

Due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and associated guidance, applications should be sent in electronic format to the above address.

As attachment sizes can be an issue, applicants are advised to contact the above email address in advance of sending in their application and arrangements can be made to allow applications to be uploaded to a secure portal. Applicants are strongly advised to submit their applications in good time in advance of the deadline.

The closing date for applications is 5 pm on 5 February 2021. 

The Advisory Committee will not consider applications received after that date save for in exceptional circumstances. Incomplete applications may be rejected and returned.

Applicants are strongly advised to read the Guidance for Applicants PDF document before downloading and completing the Application Form for a recommendation for the grant of a Patent of Precedence. (The Application Form will download in Word format when you click on the link.)

Guidance for Applicants for a Patent of Precedence
Application Form for a Patent of Precedence

General Queries

Any general queries in relation to the Guidance or Application form can be directed to the Secretariat to the Advisory Committee by email to [email protected].

Applicant Checklist

  • Declaration signed and dated;

  • Tax Clearance Certificate;

  • Two references, one of which is to be from a current or former judge at any level and one from a legal practitioner;

  • Where relevant, copies of articles (in pdf or electronic format where possible) and

  • Completed application form.

Feedback

Any feedback you may wish to share in relation to the Application Form, the Applicant Guidance and the process itself is welcome and will be carefully considered. Any feedback should be emailed to [email protected] and will be provided to the Committee anonymously.