December 01 2021

UK judiciary: best paid but poorest gender diversity

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UK judiciary: best paid but poorest gender diversity

Supreme Court immigration 2

Supreme Court sketch by Isobel Williams. www.isobelwilliams.blogspot.co.uk

The UK has the lowest number of female judges on the bench with the exception of Azerbaijan and Armenia, according to a study comparing judicial systems across Europe.

The report by the Council of Europe revealed that in many European countries the distribution between male and female judges was now equal. In 21 out of 47 countries surveyed more than 50% of their judges were women. However only one in four judges in England and Wales were women – Azerbaijan and Armenia were the only other countries with less. Based on data from 2012, some countries, such as Slovenia, Latvia and Romania, had more than seven out of 10 female judges.

‘This Government takes judicial diversity very seriously and has taken steps to improve representation, while still appointing the best people for the job,’ commented Justice Minister, Shailesh Vara. ‘We recognise there is still more to do, which is why we will continue to work with all concerned towards a judiciary that reflects the society it serves.’

The study also showed that the UK had the second highest salary for judges, just behind Switzerland. Judges from England and Wales had a salary of almost £202,000 per year, almost eight times the average national salary – Swiss judges were paid £230,356, roughly five times their average national salary.

2 responses to “UK judiciary: best paid but poorest gender diversity”

  1. If you are up before the Judge it doesn’t matter what the balance of Judiciary is. You basically have to put up with the Judge who is hearing your case. It is a lottery whether you get a man, woman, liberal, right winger, white, black.
    More important is whether you have a Judge who understands that he/she is meant to give a Judgement based on the evidence given in Court and the Law, not on his/her personal prejudices.

    I have detailed knowledge of the prosecution of Naturists for being naked in public. The ‘Naked Rambler’ is notorious, but other Naturists have been prosecuted under Section 5 Public Order Act which was never intended to be used for this purpose. It is a lottery whether they are found guilty, not depending on the evidence or the Law but on the personal prejudices of the Magistrates involved at first hearing or Judge on appeal.

    Getting a diverse Judiciary will just reinforce this lottery. Guilt may well just depend on which Magistrate/Judge gets pulled out of the hat.

    It is less of a problem in Jury trials as the Jury can compensate for any prejudice from the Judge.

  2. Christopher Lennon says:

    There is no question we have had, in our two jurisdictions, or three, if you include ‘Ireland’, historically, some of the most distinguished judges ever to grace the Bench. Judges should be well paid, for a difficult and demanding role that sets them apart(and invites jibes from the ignorant about being ‘out of touch’).
    As for ‘gender equality’, it matters not a jot if it is ever achieved, in my view, as long as any woman who aspires to be a lawyer and judge is not discouraged, deterred or prevented from doing so by reason of being a woman.
    Any person, man or woman, must be passed over if they are not up to the intellectual rigours of the job.
    Law is a demanding profession. There are plenty of women interested in starting law studies – equal numbers, or a preponderance, even, but their drop out rate is much higher and most of them become solicitors, who still rarely rise to the Bench. In most cases, nowadays, that must be because they don’t want to.
    The reason why there are more women judges in other countries, notably those with a Civil Law tradition, as opposed to the Common Law, or mixed Civil and Common Law in the case of Scotland, is, I suggest: a)because the structure of the legal profession is different, in that judges are trained ab initio, as students and do not rise through the profession and only get appointed to the Bench in middle age, as in our system; b)there are less opportunities for women in those countries and the law is a ticket to the top of society to an extent far greater than in the UK, where there are plenty of other options; c) the Common Law system is adversarial – cases are fought in open court – and that is probably less appealing to women than the inquisitorial Civil Law system. However, as the Civil and Common Law systems grow ever closer through the EU and globalisation and a third system, Islamic Law (only controversial in the Criminal Law sphere), gains wider prominence, the differences will tend to decrease. Whether that will lead to more women rising to the top remains to be seen. I suspect it will, but ‘equality’ is a holy grail and we shall only do ourselves a disservice if we seek too strenuously to achieve it.

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