A third of High Court posts were left unfilled after the most recent recruitment competition, evidence from the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) revealed.

Its report to the Senior Salaries Review Body stated that from April to December last year there were 25 vacancies for the High Court and only 17 appointments made, leaving a shortfall of eight.

Positions went unfilled in three other recruitment exercises – for Circuit judges, salaried judges of the First-tier Tribunal and civil and family district judges.

The commission, which is chaired by a Lord Kakkar, said: ‘For the first time since 2014-15, the overall percentage of outstanding and strong candidates decreased,’ at a time when the number of vacancies has increased.

The statistics will add to concerns that reduced pay and pensions, coupled with increased workloads, have made the judiciary less attractive to the best candidates.