The figures, which cover five selection exercises completed between October 2012 and March 2013, show that a third of the recommendations for appointment to the High Court (Queen’s Bench and Family Divisions) were female.

In total the JAC received 81 applications for the 14 positions; 67 from men and 14 from women. Women progressed particularly well in the High Court selection process – going from 17% of applications to 29% of those shortlisted for interview and 36% of those recommended (they make up 29% of the eligible pool). The results improve upon the three previous comparable High Court selections, where women made up 14, 23 and 15% respectively of those recommended.

In the most recent Court of Appeal selections, three of the 10 judges recommended were women; and 43% (21 in total) of the individuals authorised in 2012/13 to sit as a Deputy Judge of the High Court were female.

“Women should be encouraged by this and apply in greater numbers – when they do apply, they are achieving high levels of success,” said Christopher Stephens, Chairman of the JAC.

Further encouragement can be taken from the JAC’s annual report, published in July, which showed that black and minority ethnic candidates performed close to their eligible pool for legal posts – they were 7% of recommendations from 16% of applicants (compared to 6-10% of the eligible pool).

Welcoming the statistics, Lord Judge said that one of his long-held aspirations as Lord Chief Justice was coming to pass: “Increasing numbers of women are applying and being selected on merit for judicial office at every level of the judiciary, to great public advantage. I hope that women and other under-represented groups read these statistics and are encouraged to apply for the Bench. We need the best candidates for appointment. Anything else, such as sex, race, sexuality or socio-economic background, is irrelevant.”