SA Chief Justice Chris Kourakis weighs in on King’s Counsel storm

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South Australia’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Chris Kourakis has hit back at criticism of plans to only permit the title Senior Counsel amid uproar from barristers, the judiciary, Bar Association and Law Society.

According to Adelaide Now, Attorney-General Kyam Maher has proposed scrapping the King’s Counsel legal title, which is awarded to senior court-based barristers considered industry leaders.

Kourakis, who didn’t request changes but said his court was supportive, said judges don’t “engage in political activism” as he denied reforms were a republican plot.

Chief Justice Chris Kourakis and Attorney-General Kyam Maher. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards
SA Chief Justice, Chris Kourakis (left) and Attorney-General, Kyam Maher. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards.

The court, he said, appointed barristers Senior Counsel in the public interest, not to “exploit” clients “so they can charge more”.

“We don’t appoint them so that they can earn more. We appoint them so that the public has an objective idea of who is skilled or not. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege,” Kourakis said.

Law Society figures show three quarters of almost 60 “silk” barristers in SA are KCs, whose daily rates vary, but SA silks charge between $5000 and $10,000 a day; top interstate silks can cost more than $20,000.

Kourakis declined to comment on if any judges had raised concerns because he did not publicly comment on internal judicial “processes”.

Source: Adelaide Now

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