The shortage of judges is threatening the ability of courts to do their work and risks undermining the worldwide reputation of the judiciary, the Lord Chief Justice warned.

In his first appearance before the Lords Constitution Committee since he took up the post in October, Lord Burnett said the reasons for the recruitment crisis were ‘many and varied’, but included issues over pay and pensions, compounded by increasingly heavy workloads and deteriorating working conditions, as well as the abuse received by judges on social media.

He told the committee that the problem was ‘real’ and ‘does not appear to be transient’, citing 14 vacancies for the High Court and problems filling Circuit vacancies.