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Ministers wise to listen on judges conditions

9 February 2017

The decision by the Ministry of Justice to drop a string of proposals that would have undermined judicial diversity will be a relief to the legal sector, the Law Society of England and Wales said today.

"Judicial diversity is vital to the healthy functioning of our justice system and to public confidence, which is why we were so concerned at proposals that would make it harder to recruit from the widest and best pool of talent," said Law Society president Robert Bourns.

"Setting non-renewable fixed terms would have been a backwards step, making these roles less attractive to new judicial candidates, and we're pleased the government has listened to the responses to their consultation and thought better of this idea."

Robert Bourns also expressed concern the government will continue with its proposal to remove guaranteed sitting days from part-time judicial officers.

"Taking a reasonable and flexible approach to allow part-time judges to balance their work and judicial commitments is vital," said Robert Bourns.

"However, removing clear minimum expectations of income and time does not add flexibility, but instead makes it harder for solicitors and their firms to understand the commitment they are entering into.

"It can be challenging for a solicitor to step out of their firm to take up judicial duties, and asking solicitors to do so without any guarantee of time or income is unfairly asking them to gamble with their legal career.

"At a time when the government, judiciary and the legal profession are all working together to increase the range of people applying for judiciary roles, anything that makes these positions less attractive to potential candidates is unfortunate.

"The Law Society will continue to advocate for steps that support a diverse and vibrant judiciary, which reflects the diverse and vibrant society they serve."

Wednesday's announcement by the government on judicial terms and conditions followed a consultation late last year.


Notes to editors

See the Law Society's full response to the government's consultation

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Oliver Searle | +44 (0)20 7316 5624