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Despite living in one of the most diverse societies in the Western World, the UK does not have a very diverse judiciary. In particular women make up less than 25% of judges and Black and Minority Ethnics(BME) account for just 7%. Around a half of the population is female and about 12% are BME. Although there have been ‘many reforms, heralded with much fanfare’ to promote judicial diversity over the last decade, these have had little impact. One academic study has shown that “changes to the statutory eligibility criteria, from 10 to seven years’ post-qualification experience, have had ‘virtually no effect’ on recorder and circuit judge appointments”. Also removal of the age requirement for circuit judges has increased diversity, but the number of those under 45 ‘are so small that the magnitude of the effect is fairly negligible’. Oh dear! Not the sort of news that should be greeting 2018!

There may be a host of ‘structural, ‘institutional’ and ‘generic’ reasons for this but it does have to be said that some reform is better than none. Lawyers are used to telling their clients that insight into a problem cannot come without acknowledgement of it.  Also the Judicial Diversity Committee does have an ‘action plan’, which includes a pledge to run more workshops for under-represented groups. It remains to be seen whether the plan results in sufficient action.

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