Peers sound alarm over falling morale on the bench

Poor working conditions and ‘dilapidated’ court buildings are having a detrimental effect on recruiting and retaining judges, the House of Lords Constitution Committee warned.

The committee was also ‘deeply concerned’that the pension dispute between the government and judges has damaged judicial morale.

It called on the government to take steps to improve diversity, including encouraging more solicitors to apply for judicial positions, enabling chartered legal executives who have been district judges to apply for higher court roles and removing obstacles faced by government lawyersin gaining the required experience. It also recommended a rethink of the fixed retirement age of 70 for judges.

Committee Chair, Baroness Taylor of Bolton, said:‘The UK has one of the finest judicial systems in the world. However, we have found an alarming number of factors are currently affecting recruitment to the bench, and we are deeply concerned about the impact they are having on the retention of current judges and the attractiveness of the judiciary as a career for potential applicants.’

‘To maintain our gold standard legal system we need the best and brightest candidates coming forward for judicial appointment.

She added that the committee was ‘concerned’ about the lack of diversity on the bench and disappointed with the limited progress since its last report in 2012.

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