Lack of judicial diversity highlighted in new report

Family Law|November 7th 2014

A lack of racial and gender diversity in the senior judiciary is undermining justice, a new report claims.

Judicial Diversity: Accelerating Change declares that:

“The near absence of women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic judges in the senior judiciary, is no longer tolerable.”

The predominance of white males in the judiciary “undermines the democratic legitimacy of our legal system”, the report proclaims, and it is “a denial of fair and equal opportunities to members of underrepresented groups”.

It continues:

“The diversity deficit weakens the quality of justice.”

Bold words indeed. The report was written by two QCs – Sir Geoffrey Bindman and Karon Monaghan – and commissioned by Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Sadiq Khan, with a view to informing policy in a future Labour government.

Previous attempts by such bodies as the Judiciary Appointments Committee have met with little success say the authors. They urge full consideration of judicial candidates’ potential role in the creation of a diverse judiciary, as well as active efforts to remove any barriers faced by such candidates.

Quotas are also on the agenda, it seems. Bindman and Monaghan write:

“Progress towards a diverse judiciary has been too slow. Without a requirement to appoint qualified women and ethnic minorities, we believe that the pace of change will remain intolerably slow.”

Maybe. I can certainly see the arguments for altering the range, ethnicity and sex of judges. However, I am not and never have been in favour of promoting anyone for those reasons. Ability is what counts.

I have seen too many people who it seems have been promoted in their careers because of such factors and who are simply not up to the job – although most people would be loathe to admit that. I include the law in that observation.

Women will always face particular workplace issues because most interrupt their careers to have children. However I am very strongly of the view the best person for the judicial job should always get it. And if that means looking to members of the traditional Bar in London, and all the high quality training and rich experience on offer there, then so be it.

Read Judicial Diversity: Accelerating Change here.

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