Say what you like about the honours system, but at least one branch of it has an anti-establishment dash. None of the three solicitors granted honorary silk-ship this week could remotely be described as buggins-turn time-servers.
Eileen Carroll, admitted as a solicitor in 1981, was one of the UK’s first civil mediators and has worked tirelessly to establish mediation in the civil justice system for more than 20 years. It is fair to say that not everyone was happy with the innovation.
Stefan Cross (pictured, who was admitted 1985) seems to revel in his disruptive influence, fighting on behalf of low-paid women. Cross has been known to describe himself as the ‘most hated lawyer in Britain’, and certainly he is unpopular with councils who had to pay millions of pounds.
He once told the Gazette: ‘Everyone agrees that equal pay is great in theory, but when women try to enforce it, they and their lawyers are treated as pariahs threatening jobs and services. We’ve had people picketing our meetings and members of my staff have been intimidated.’
As for the lengthy CV of Edward Walker-Arnott (admitted in 1963), colleagues’ eyes will immediately home in on his role on the advisory group assisting Sir David Clementi in his review of the regulation of the legal profession. Again, not uncontroversial.
Obiter had rather hoped that honorary QC-ship would carry with it some ancient privilege such as the right to drive swans along Carey Street, but apparently the only reward is the right to the suffix QC honoris causa. What’s Latin for mould-breaker?