Third woman for Supreme Court


Lady Justice Arden has been promoted to the Supreme Court, taking to three the number of female judges at the UK’s top court.

Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Kitchin will join the Supreme Court on 1 October, followed by Lord Justice Sales on 11 January next year. The trio will fill the places left by Lord Mance, the former Deputy President of the court and husband of Lady Justice Arden, who retired on his 75th birthday (see Counsel's interview with Lord Mance) and Lords Hughes of Ombersley and Sumption who retire later this year.

The court’s President, Baroness Hale of Richmond, said: ‘I am delighted that the Supreme Court will be joined by three new justices in the coming months, each of whom has led a distinguished judicial career.’

Seven Court of Appeal judges were also appointed, three of whom are women, making for the first time more than a quarter of the court’s 38 judges female.

The new appointees were Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, Mrs Justice Rose, Mrs Justice Simler, Mr Justice Baker, Mr Justice Green, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave and Mr Justice Males.

In the flurry of judicial appointments, five were appointed to the High Court, among them three women, making a total of 22 women amoung the High Court’s 95 judges – a much improved situation from a decade ago when there were only five women. The five candidates appointed were Sarah Falk, Judith Farbey QC, Edward Murray, Her Honour Judge Johannah Cutts QC and His Honour Judge David Waksman QC.

Their appointments will take effect from 1 October 2018 and a further five appointments are expected in the coming months. However, despite receiving 52 applications, the Judicial Applications Commission was unable to fill 15 vacancies.

The week before the High Court appointments were announced, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, warned that the recruitment crisis in the senior judiciary was ‘unsustainable’ and risked damaging the country’s legal standing. He told the annual dinner for the judiciary hosted by the Lord Mayor of London that for the fourth year running High Court vacancies would not be filled and there was a real prospect that it would operate 20% below its 108 judges. ‘That shortfall followed and largely resulted from the steady erosion of judicial terms and conditions,’ he said.

Burnett warned: ‘That is unsustainable. There is an urgent need to act now if we are to avoid serious and lasting damage to the High Court and to the international position of the jurisdiction of England and Wales, with knock on consequences for the professional services industry and the City.’

Meanwhile in the cabinet reshuffle that followed the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson, Jeremy Wright QC was replaced as Attorney General by commercial barrister Geoffrey Cox QC.

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