Almost half of all judges would retire early due to poor pay and pension cuts and concerns over their safety, a survey revealed.
The second Judicial Attitudes Survey, carried out over the summer, showed that 42% of judges would leave if it was a ‘viable option’, almost double the 23% from the previous survey in 2014.
More than a third (36%) of salaried judges said they may consider leaving the judiciary early over the next five years. But the highest proportions who say they would leave early were at the High Court (47%), Court of Appeal (41%) and Circuit judges (40%).
A majority of judges (76%) felt their working conditions had deteriorated since 2014. An overwhelming majority (78%) of salaried judges said they had a loss of net earnings over the last two years and 62% said the change in pensions has affected them personally. Overall, 74% felt their pay and pension entitlement did not adequately reflect their work.
More than half (51%) had concerns for their personal safety while in court, while 37% were concerned for their safety outside court and 15% had concerns related to social media.
Virtually all judges felt they provide an important service to society (97%) and had a strong personal attachment to being a member of the judiciary (90%), but they did not feel their work was valued. Less than half (43%) felt valued by the public, 3% by the media and 2% by the government.
Factors that would make them stay on the bench were higher pay (80%), a settled position on pensions (57%) and better administrative support (56%).
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and the Senior President of Tribunals Sir Ernest Ryder said: ‘The quality of the judiciary underpins the rule of law and the continued success of our legal services market nationally and internationally.
‘We are therefore extremely grateful to those who took part in the survey, which assists the [Senior Salaries Review Body] in making evidence-based recommendations to government on judicial pay. ‘In the light of the substantially greater remuneration available to the most able practitioners in private practice, these matters are vital to our ability to attract candidates and retain judges of the highest calibre.’
In January an employment tribunal ruled that more than 200 judges, whose pension entitlements had been cut significantly, were discriminated against by the Ministry of Justice on the grounds of their age, sex and race.