Judicial recruitment and lack of diversity puts justice at risk
2 November 2017
The Constitution Committee today warns that difficulties with recruitment threaten the UK's world renowned legal system and that more work to address judicial diversity is needed.
- Report: Judicial Appointments: follow-up (HTML)
- Report: Judicial Appointments: follow-up (PDF)
- Inquiry: Judicial Appointments: follow-up
- Select Committee on the Constitution
The Committee has examined the progress made on judicial recruitment and diversity since its 2012 report on Judicial Appointments.
- Report: Judicial Appointments (25th Report, Session 2010-12) (HTML)
- Report: Judicial Appointments (25th Report, Session 2010-12) (PDF)
The Committee say that:
- It is deeply concerned that the dispute between the Government and the judiciary on pensions changes has damaged the morale of the judiciary.
- The working conditions of the judiciary are having a detrimental effect on retaining and recruiting judges. The dilapidated state of some courts, the administrative burdens on judges, under-resourcing of court staff and IT shortcomings all need to be addressed.
- The fixed retirement age for judges should be reconsidered, particularly for the senior judiciary.
- The judiciary must be free from abuse and personal criticism by the media and the Lord Chancellor has a constitutional duty to defend the independence of the judiciary. This does not impinge on the right of the press to criticise court judgments.
The Committee recommends that:
- The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice should examine the obstacles faced by government lawyers in gaining the required experience for judicial office.
- Chartered legal executives who demonstrate the requisite attributes should not be prevented from promotion to higher courts.
- The Government and the legal profession should work with law firms to encourage solicitors to apply for judicial positions.
- The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, the Judicial Appointments Commission and the legal professions must monitor progress and look for new ways to encourage diversity.