To make this site simpler, we place small data files on your computer known as cookies. Most of our cookies are strictly necessary in order for the website to function correctly and these cookies do not store any of your personal data.

We also allow you to choose whether to allow Google Analytics cookies or not. Google Analytics cookies improve our understanding of how you use the website so we can make sure it meets your needs. If you should choose to accept the Google Analytics cookie, we will still anonymise all data collected.

Click here to find out more on the SFO's privacy policy and use of cookies.

Analytics Cookies

Counsel panel application process 2020

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is renewing its counsel panel lists. This is an exciting opportunity for advocates to work on our cases at all levels. We are seeking to increase the diversity of our lists. The SFO both investigates and prosecutes the most serious cases of economic crime and focuses on top-tier fraud, bribery and corruption. It is an independent government department headed by the Director, Lisa Osofsky, who acts under the superintendence of the Attorney General. Cases are interesting, complex and provide advocates with the ability to gain experience on high profile cases, including Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) and international criminal investigations. Advocates will work closely with the SFO’s case teams to advise and represent us in court.

The Panel covers prosecution and proceeds of crime work.  Applications are invited from advocates (self-employed barristers or self-employed independent solicitor advocates) for the QC, A, B and C panel lists for general cases and for proceeds of crime cases. The lists will operate from December 2020 to December 2024. 

Those appointed to the panels will have the opportunity to undertake work for the SFO; however being appointed to the panels will not guarantee instruction. All applicants will have to meet the relevant criteria. We encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds and for proceeds of crime work, we encourage those with a civil or criminal background to apply. Those who have been or are on our lists are invited to re-apply. Treasury Counsel who wish to be on our lists should provide a summary of their expertise but need not complete the application form.  All applicants must have a current Practising Certificate, hold Professional Indemnity Insurance at a minimum of £500,000 and be registered with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Application Process

Advocates will be asked to complete an application form providing evidence-based examples to demonstrate their skills and experience, with some anonymised written work and references to support their application. Transferable skills will be considered. Advocates can apply for either the Prosecution and/or the Proceeds of Crime International Assistance Panels. Advocates must read all of the guidance documents and complete the relevant forms for the panel and the list that they wish to apply for.

Guidance documents, criteria and application forms for all panel lists are avaliable to download below.

The deadline for receipt of completed applications and references is 23:59 on Wednesday 30 September 2020.

Application forms submitted after the deadline will not be accepted. Any references submitted after the deadline might not be considered. Applications must be submitted electronically to . References can be submitted directly to the email address by referees and do not need to accompany the application form but applicants should ensure that they are submitted by referees by the deadline.

Applicants will be asked to complete and return the documents listed below:

  1. Application Form with two references
  2. Signed Panel Counsel Commitment document confirming acceptance of the SFO’s terms & conditions
  3. Equalities Monitoring Form – Completion of this form is voluntary and it will not be considered as part of the application process.

Advocates can only apply for one list (lists below Queen’s Counsel are set according to post-qualification experience).  However, advocates can apply to be on a list on both the Prosecution and the Proceeds of Crime International Assistance panels. Advocates should consider the criteria for each list to check eligibility and refer to the guidance.

Advocates should ensure that their referees have sufficient time to complete their reference and should direct their referees to the guidance documents. If references are not submitted by the deadline, your application might rejected.

The SFO recommends that advocates read the guidance documents available on the SFO website prior to completing any application. Queries should be directed to

Appointments to the new SFO panels are likely to be announced in December 2020.

Frequently asked questions



Are Attorney General Counsel exempt from applying or is it just Treasury Counsel?

No, Counsel from the Attorney General’s lists will need to apply.

Re Q.8 of the application form:  Have you ever been formally removed from the SFO or other government organisation’s Counsel lists or had instructions withdrawn by any government organisations?


Is the FCA considered a government agency?

Although the FCA is not a government agency, it is a prosecuting agency like the SFO and we would need to know if instructions had been withdrawn by this agency.

Can cases which have been conducted in foreign jurisdictions can be used for the advocacy/advisory questions? And, do the cases have to be in the last 18 months or is there no applicable timeline on the cases?

If individuals wish to rely on examples from other jurisdictions, or examples which are old, they can do so, if they do not have any relevant domestic or recent examples. However, this is something that will be taken into account when the application is being evaluated.

Is it possible to apply to more than one list?

Counsel may apply for one panel on the Prosecution list and one panel on the Proceeds of Crime International Assistance list if they have the requisite experience.

Counsel registered with the Bar Council as a sole practitioner, are they excluded from applying for the Panel? It’s noted that the ‘Pre-Qualification Questionnaire’ states ‘Barristers must be a practising member of a chambers’?

No, this does not exclude counsel registered as sole practitioners. As counsel does not have to be in a chambers with other people.

If someone is applying for POCIA list and Prosecution list can they use the references from the POCIA list for the Prosecution list although those referees will only be able to speak to the POC experience or do they need to obtain 4 references? (2 for each panel)

Candidates should carefully consider whether references would be capable of supporting an application to another panel. Candidates should consider the criteria for the list they are applying for and ensure that their referees address these points.



If a civil practitioner.


One of the requirements stated to be essential is “The control & management of unused material and PII”; and lacking experience of this area.

Your application should demonstrate the civil equivalent, so the control and management of the disclosure process in civil litigation, and if possible, the handling of such material where there are particular sensitivities (Government / Law Enforcement / Commercial) and how that was managed.



Document 1 - Index to Counsel Panel Documents.pdfDownload 
Document 2 - Introduction and Details.pdfDownload 
Document 3 - Application and Assessment Process.pdfDownload 
Document 4 - Counsel Panel Members Commitment.pdfDownload 
Serious Fraud Office Document 5a - Prosecution Selection Criteria Panel QC (1).pdfDownload 
Serious Fraud Office Document 5b - Prosecution Selection Criteria Panel A (1).pdfDownload 
Serious Fraud Office Document 5c - Prosecution Selection Criteria Panel B (1).pdfDownload 
Serious Fraud Office Document 5d - Prosecution Selection Criteria Panel C (1).pdfDownload 
Document 6a - Proceeds of Crime International Assistance Selection Criteria Panel QC.pdfDownload 
Document 6b - Proceeds of Crime International Assistance Selection Criteria for Panel A.pdfDownload 
Document 6c - Proceeds of Crime International Assistance Selection Criteria for Panel B.pdfDownload 
Document 6d - Proceeds of Crime International Assistance Selection Criteria for Panel C.pdfDownload 
Document 7 - Prosecution Application Form for All Panels.docxDownload 
Document 8 - Proceeds of Crime International Assistance Application Form for All Panels.docxDownload 
1596189546wpdm_Serious Fraud Office Document 9 - Reference Form for All Panels.docxDownload 
Document 10 - Explanatory Note to Referees.pdfDownload 
Document 12 - Appeal Form.docxDownload 
Document 13 - Details of the Appeals Process.pdfDownload 
Document 11 - Equalities Monitoring Form.docxDownload