Posts Tagged ‘judicial appointments commission’

Kate Malleson, Professor at Queen Mary, University of London and an Executive Committee member of the Equal Justices Initiative, which seeks to promote the equal participation of men and women in the judiciary in England and Wales by 2015.

This week saw further discussion of the proposed changes to how judges are appointed in the Crime and Courts Bill 2012 (here and here). In this paper, delivered in response to a lecture by Sir Stephen Sedley at Mansfield College, Oxford earlier in the month, Kate Malleson asks whether a diverse judiciary is still a pipe dream?

Twenty years ago, around the time when I first became interested in the issue of diversity in the judiciary, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor said:

‘The present imbalance between male and female, white and black in the judiciary is obvious…I have no doubt that the balance will be redressed in the next few years…Within five years I would expect to see a substantial number of appointments from both these groups’.[1]

As we all know, that hasn’t happened. The judiciary remains largely white, male and middle class and it becomes paler, maler and more socially advantaged the higher up you go. England and Wales is not alone in this. This pattern is repeated around the world and in almost all liberal democracies is a cause of much scrutiny and concern. There is now a clear consensus, in many jurisdictions that, in the words of Lady Hale, ‘a diverse judiciary is an indispensable requirement of any democracy’ (p.2). Yet despite this, no democracy to date has achieved a genuinely diverse judiciary and in England and Wales there is no prospect that it will happen any time soon.

In the light of the intransigent nature of the problem, I want to put forward two arguments. First, that the issue of judicial diversity is inherently political and only a political commitment to change will bring it about. Second that diversity will bring problems as well as benefits and that we need to be much more honest about the implications of a more diverse judiciary. (more…)

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