Applications for employment of senior counsel, more than one junior counsel and senior counsel acting alone

We will authorise the instruction of senior and junior counsel where there are issues of exceptional novelty and/or complexity arising in the particular case.

When assessing the application we must be satisfied that the information provided demonstrates novelty and/or complexity.

If that information is not provided then the application will be refused.

If the application demonstrates novelty and/or complexity but does not demonstrate that more than one counsel is required then we will consider part granting the application for senior counsel acting alone.

With regards to requests for senior counsel, we will take into account the gravity of the charges faced by the accused.

However, we may grant an application on grounds of any of complexity, novelty or gravity alone. It is not necessarily the case that a combination of factors must be present.

In considering applications for the employment of senior counsel, where any of the factors mentioned are present then we may grant the application.

Where the request is for multiple junior counsel (or senior and junior counsel), we will normally grant the application where the volume of productions or witnesses (or the number and nature of the charges faced by the accused) is such that the use of multiple counsel is appropriate for the proper conduct of the case.

Where an application is made for the prior approval of senior and junior counsel solely on the basis of the scale of the case then we may part grant the application for two junior counsel.

We will normally grant an application for prior approval for more than one counsel for the conduct of a trial in the following circumstances:

  • where the case has a large number of witnesses and productions and the trial is likely to be lengthy
  • where there are substantial legal arguments to be made which will involve consideration of a significant amount of case law and other legal material
  • where it is clear that the court is dealing with the case in a way which will involve a level of preparation which will be complex, time consuming and beyond what one counsel could reasonably be expected to undertake.

We will only grant an application for prior approval for the employment of senior and two junior counsel in exceptional circumstances.

In prosecutions involving a significant number of accused in a very lengthy trial we may allow prior approval for a third counsel to note evidence.

Any such grant will be made conditional on that task being carried out by one junior counsel on behalf of all accused in the case.


Proceeds of Crime proceedings

High Court

As a result of the conviction of an accused, the Crown may decide to raise proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act. If such proceedings are to take place in the High Court, then automatic sanction for junior counsel shall already be in place without the need for further sanction.

However, and notwithstanding what sanction existed for the substantive case, should you wish to instruct an additional junior counsel or senior counsel, you must seek sanction in the normal manner.

Sheriff Court

If the Proceeds of Crime proceedings are to take place in the Sheriff Court, and notwithstanding the level of sanction made available in the substantive case, if you wish to instruct junior counsel or senior counsel, you must seek sanction in the normal manner.


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