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Judicial Appointments Commission questioned on judicial diversity

28 June 2021

The Justice Committee will examine progress in improving diversity in the judiciary on Tuesday 29 June when it takes evidence from the Judicial Appointments Commission, including its Chair, Lord Kakkar.

Purpose of the session

The Judicial Appointments Commission is responsible for selecting candidates for judicial office in England and Wales. It has a statutory duty to select candidates only on merit and to have regard to encouraging diversity in the range of people available for selection. 

The Judicial Appointments Commission was set up in 2006 to increase judicial independence and excellence and to enhance the judiciary’s legitimacy by making it more reflective of society. 

15 years on, although diversity is increasing, the judiciary continues to be unrepresentative of the legal professions and of the general population as a whole on several measures including gender, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic background, particularly in the senior judiciary. For example, in the most recent statistical data (2020):

  • 32% of court judges and 26% of judges at the High Court or above are women [as compared to 51% in the population as a whole]
  • 8% of court judges and 4% of judges at the High Court or above identify as Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) [as compared to 14% in the population as a whole]

There have also been recent claims of systemic discrimination and bullying at the highest levels of the judiciary causing BAME judges to miss out on senior roles.

The session will provide an opportunity for the Justice Committee to question what progress has been made in increasing diversity in the judiciary. It will examine the impact of measures implemented by the Judicial Appointments Commission and consider what more can be done to make the judiciary more representative of the population.  

Witnesses

From 2.30pm: 

  • Lord Kakkar, Chair, Judicial Appointments Commission
  • Richard Jarvis, Chief Executive, Judicial Appointments Commission
  • Sarah Lee, Solicitor and Judicial Appointments Commissioner

Further information

Image: Parliamentary Copyright