Judicial diversity: Report shows little progress for women and ethnic minority candidates

New statistics from the Ministry of Justice reveal that progress on improving judicial diversity needs speeding up.

Findings include:

  • women now make up 37% of judges in courts, compared to 54% of tribunal judges
  • while there has been a slight increase in the proportion of ethnic minority judges overall, there has been negligible progress in improving the representation of Black judges; there are just 67 Black judges across courts and tribunals, making up 1.27% of the judiciary (up 0.01% on 2022)
  • there is a slight increase in the proportion of solicitor judges (32% compared to 31% in 2022), but this is still down compared to 2014 when they made up 37% in the courts
  • there is disparity for solicitors in legal judicial selection exercises compared to barristers – solicitors (48%) made up more of the applications than barristers (35%) – but constituted a smaller percentage of the recommendations for appointment (35% compared to 50% of barristers)

Law Society of England and Wales president Lubna Shuja said: “There has been some progress in improving judicial diversity in the courts but more needs to be done.

“Women still only make up just over a third of judges. The proportion of the judiciary from a non-barrister background remains persistently low despite solicitors making up the majority of applicants.

“The selection process needs to be urgently reformed. The requirement to consult sitting judges on candidates’ suitability, known as ‘statutory consultation’, must be reviewed with serious consideration given to removing it altogether, as it is not working fairly or transparently at the moment.

“As recommended by the independent review which the Judicial Diversity Forum commissioned, all members should now set measurable impact targets, share underlying data to ensure activities are effective, and have selection processes that appropriately recognise and weigh the experience and transferable skills of solicitors.

“A career path from the tribunals to the courts also needs to be developed.”

Notes to editors

Read the statistics on the diversity of the judiciary 2023

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