Page 9 - Judicial Diversity Update report
P. 9


       1.1.  In  April  2017,  JUSTICE  published  Increasing  Judicial  Diversity.  In  that
            report, a Working Party of our members warned that without active attention
            to the diversity deficit in our senior judiciary, our courts would continue to be
            dominated  by  white,  privately  educated  men  who  had  practised  at  the
            independent Bar. We noted a looming crisis of judicial morale and of judicial
            recruitment,  suggesting  that  this  might  present  an  opportunity  for  quality
            candidates from non-traditional backgrounds to join the bench in numbers that
            might begin to rebalance the demographics of the judiciary.

       1.2.  At the time of our report, judicial diversity was big news. Lady Hale was the
            only woman serving on the Supreme Court (and the only woman ever to have
            done so); Lord Justice Hickinbottom was then the only sitting former solicitor
            in the High Court or above; there had never been a Black, Asian or Minority
            Ethnic (BAME) judge appointed to any court higher than the High Court and
            there had only ever been one woman serve, many years earlier, as a Head of
            Division in the courts of England and Wales.

       1.3.  Since then, all of these high-level indicators of diversity have improved; Lady
            Black and Lady Arden now sit on the Supreme Court, the number of solicitors
            ever to have sat in the High Court has doubled (to eight); Sir Rabinder Singh
            became the first BAME Court of Appeal judge; and Dame Victoria Sharp is
            now President of the Queen’s Bench Division. These developments are all
            significant and are to be applauded.

       1.4.  However, the picture painted by these headlines belies the fact that over the
            last  two  and  a  half  years,  most  appointments  to  our  senior  courts  have
            continued much as before. While the chance of appointment appears to have
            improved for white women at the Bar, the current small numbers of female
            judges overall, combined with likely retirements or voluntary resignations in
            the years to come, means that progress is fragile and, particularly at the senior
            levels, the risk of regression is high.  Furthermore, the data demonstrates that
            progress  with  respect  to  ethnicity,  disability,  professional  and  social
            background has barely begun.

       1.5.  This  tenuous  progress  reflects  the  limited  change  of  approach  to  judicial
            diversity  since  2017.  Whilst  we  are  pleased  that  some  of  the  more  minor

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