More work needs to be done to make judiciary diverse

According to a new report published today by the Ministry of Justice, an improvement of just one per cent in the past 12 months can be seen in the numbers of women judges.

In the courts in particular just 32% of judges are women and only 26% in more the senior court roles.

“Women tended to have a better relative success rate for tribunal applications, compared with the courts,” observed Simon Davis. “In tribunals, women accounted for half of the most senior roles: presidents, chamber presidents, deputy and vice presidents.”

When it came to ethnicity, there is again a small improvement: 8% of court judges and 12% of tribunal judges identified as BAME as of 1 April 2020. In 2019, it was 7% of court judges and 11% of tribunal judges.

In senior roles however the proportion remains low among people self-identifying as BAME – 4% for High Court and above. The numbers of solicitors in court roles has fallen, with only 32% of court judges coming from non-barrister backgrounds, compared with 63% of tribunal judges.

Simon Davis added: “Across all the legal selection exercises run by the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) women made up 50% of applicants, BAME people accounted for 25% and solicitors for 58%. So the good news is that the pool of applicants is increasingly diverse.

“It is however particularly disappointing then to see the present disparity of successful outcomes.

“We will work with colleagues from the Judicial Diversity Forum (JDF) to understand better the reasons for those disparities and to help make sure that application processes are open and fair, while continuing to provide targeted support for solicitors aspiring to judicial office.

“Meanwhile, we also will continue to work with the Solicitors' Regulation Authority and the Legal Standards Board, as well as our membership, on increasing the diversity and inclusivity of the profession at all levels.”

Notes to editors

Read the Ministry of Justice report

Judicial Diversity Forum narrative and action plan

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