Bar chiefs call for urgent action to increase judicial diversity

There is an ‘urgent need’ for positive action to increase the number of women and ethnic minority lawyers on the bench, the Bar Council said after statistics revealed a ‘serious problem’ with appointments.

The latest figures released by the Judicial Appointments Commission revealed that ethnic minority candidates made up 20% of applicants, but only 6% of appointments, they were disproportionately less likely to succeed in applying to be High Court and Circuit Judges, and none had applied for senior judicial roles.

Women made up 42% of applicants, but accounted for only 35% of appointments. While their success rate in applying to be High Court judges was proportionate to those who applied, women made up only 35% of the pool of applicants.

The Bar Council said the figures showed a ‘serious problem’ with appointments and underlined the need for ‘targeted support and training’.

Robin Allen QC, Chair of the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Committee, said: ‘We cannot go on having no [ethnic ninority] applications for senior judicial roles. The rule of law requires a fully diverse judiciary.

‘Once again the figures reveal the urgent need for positive action,’ he said.

The Bar Council is working in partnership to develop a programme of pre-application judicial education for those thinking of applying, with places reserved for people from under-represented groups.

More positively, of the 21 new deputy High Court judges announced last month, seven were women, five were solicitors and some were the first in their family to have attended university.

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