thursday, 30 july of 2015

More than half of judges under 40 in England and Wales are women

More than half of all judges under the age of 40 in England and Wales are women, according to judicial statistics released on Thursday.

But while the gender balance on the bench continues to improve, there has been no change in the percentage of those from minority ethnic groups.

“It is encouraging that the numbers of female judges in the high court and the court of appeal are at their highest levels ever,” the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said.

“There has been a rise in the number of women on the circuit bench [in crown courts], and more than half of all judges in courts and tribunals under 40 years of age are women (55%).

“On the other hand, it is disappointing that there has been little marked improvement, in either courts or tribunals, in the percentage of judges from a BME background [who make up 7% of the numbers]. However, I believe the percentage of BME judges under 50 years of age (12%) provides some encouragement for the future.”

The annual judicial diversity statistics show the overall number of female judges increased in both the courts and tribunals between 1 April 2014 and 1 April this year. In the courts, the number of female judges rose from 24.5% to 25.2%; in tribunals it rose from 43.0% to 43.8%.

“Diversity is important to all of us and to the judiciary in particular,” the lord chief justice said. “It is not just a guarantor of public confidence in justice; it is also a feature of justice itself because it represents both fairness and equality of opportunity.

“Clearly there is more to be done. The Judicial Appointments Commission selects candidates for judicial roles on merit irrespective of background, but there is a real need to ensure that there is a level playing field and everyone has a genuine opportunity when applying for judicial appointment."

Lord Thomas said he would like to see more applications from solicitors, those in the government legal service, members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and academic candidates.

Eight out of 38 court of appeal judges are women, one more than last year. Of 108 high court judges, 21 are female.

The number of female circuit judges increased from 131 in April 2014 to 146 in April 2015. The gender shift is most noticeable among younger judges.

More than half (53%) of the 60 court judges under 40 are women. In tribunals, 56% of the 89 judges under 40 are women.

Only 36% of court judges were not barristers, a decline on the previous year. That change may reflect hard times being experienced by many at the criminal bar who are opting for what has been nicknamed the “purple lifeboat” – a more secure income on the bench.

(Published by The Guardian - July 30, 2015)

latest top stories

subscribe |  contact us |  sponsors |  migalhas in portuguese |  migalhas latinoamérica