Senior ranks of judiciary remains ‘closed shop’, says Law Society

The number of judges from an ethnic minority background dropped to just five percent this year, according to the latest figures on judicial diversity. Just over one in five High Court Judges were women, 22 out of 106; over half of the 85 court judges under 40 years of age were women (51%); and in tribunals, almost two-thirds of 56 judges under 40 were women (64%, up from 56% last year).

About one third of court judges (34%) and two thirds (65%) of tribunal judges came from non-barrister backgrounds. ‘While solicitors are well represented as tribunal judges, the senior ranks of the judiciary remain a relatively closed shop,’ commented the Law Society.  ‘The fall in court judges from the solicitor profession – down two percentage points since last year – is unwelcome, and underscores there is much more to do.’

Chancery Lane said – noting that the percentage of female judges was ‘still in the 20s’ and of BAME judges in ‘single digits’ – the latest figures were a case of ‘some progress but must try harder’.


Main findings:

  • Eight out of 39 Court of Appeal judges were women;
  • 22 out of 106 High Court Judges were women (21 per cent);
  • In the courts the percentage of female judges has increased from April 2015 to April 2016 from 25% to 28%. In tribunals it remained stable at 45% ;
  • The number of female circuit judges increased from 146 in April 2015 to 160 in April 2016;
  • The percentage of judges who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic was 5% in courts and in tribunals 9%;
  • A third of court judges and two thirds of tribunal judges were from non-barrister backgrounds.

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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