Khan tells AG: 'Stop pappy show,' don't ask lawyers to apply for silk

Israel Khan. - File photo
Israel Khan. - File photo

SENIOR Counsel Israel Khan has called on Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, to withdraw his invitation to attorneys to submit their applications for consideration for the appointment of “silk.”

Khan made the call in response to the Attorney General’s invitation gazetted on May 13.

In a notice, Armour called on attorneys who wished to be considered to submit their applications by midnight of May 20.

He advised the appointment would be according to the 1964 legal notice which sets out the procedure for appointing senior counsel, or silk.

Khan had challenged the appointment process in an interpretation claim in May 2023. It is assigned to Justice Devindra Rampersad who has set timelines for the filing of submissions. The Law Association has also filed submissions on the issue.

Khan says the President should make such appointments at her discretion or on the advice of anyone, or authority, other than the Cabinet, including the chief justice. The association said for several years, it has been publicly and privately engaging stakeholders on the appointment of attorneys to the rank of senior counsel.

On May 14, Khan said the court would soon decide on the issue so the Government should “stop the pappy show” of inviting lawyers to apply for silk as it was “vulgar and disrespectful” to the legal profession and the Judiciary when the matter was under the court’s consideration.

He called on Armour to withdraw his invitation, threatening to possibly approach the court to stop the award of senior counsel.

“It is not only wrong, it is crass.”

Khan’s attorneys say their client’s submissions were due at the end of the month and they were hopeful for a written decision before the end of 2024. The last appointment of senior counsel was in May 2023, when 17 attorneys were elevated to the Inner Bar.

Under the procedure, the Attorney General first invites senior attorneys who have distinguished themselves in the profession to apply for the honour.

The Attorney General then consults with the Chief Justice and other stakeholders before discussing the applications with the Prime Minister, who advises the President on who should be appointed.

There have been calls for a review of the selection of candidates for senior counsel.

In 2023, Armour said the selection procedure existed before this country gained Independence in 1962 and acknowledged the calls for an overhaul of the process. At the time, he said it was “under review.”

In 2015, the Law Association passed a resolution that the award should be granted by the President on the recommendation of an independent panel. The association’s resolution came after it compiled a report on the issue, which strongly advocated for the independence of the profession and, in particular, the bar.

In 2018, the association again called for transparency in the process.


"Khan tells AG: ‘Stop pappy show,’ don’t ask lawyers to apply for silk"

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