Capping tax-free pension contributions is deterring lawyers from ‘immensely prosperous’ private practice from applying for the bench, the Lord Chief Justice said.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd told the House of Lords Constitution Committee that the cut to the £40,000-a-year cap for those earning more than £150,000 in last July’s budget had significantly reduced the financial attractiveness of the Bench.

He said the pension change, coupled with relatively low pay and increasing volumes of work, was making it difficult to recruit and retain judges.

His words came after the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) rejected a call to give High Court judges a 3% pay rise.

Granting a 1% rise for all judges, the SSRB said a 3% rise would be ‘unfair and divisive’ and have a detrimental effect on the motivation and morale of other judges.