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HOW SUCCESSFUL ARE JUDICIAL DIVERSITY INITIATIVES?

Initiatives to increase diversity are a double-edged sword. One is always left wondering whether the appointment has been made on the basis of race, gender or ability! Technically, the way that these types of initiative work, is to ensure a proper consideration of all 3, without lowering the standard. A model used in America, with some success, is where there are 2 candidates of equal ability, the non-white (or the female) candidate is to be given precedence.

Recently, a young female solicitor became the youngest ever Judge to be appointed in the UK. She is aged just 31. This is an amazing achievement, for any lawyer, but it became even more news-worthy as she was appointed the day before International Women’s Day. The top Judge in the country, the President of the Supreme Court, is a woman, but she is only one of 2 women on the Panel. Also only 2 females, from non-white backgrounds, have ever been appointed to the High Court Bench – one in 2004 and one in 2015.

Approximately 28% of all Judges are female, but this figure falls to 24% if restricted to the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Conversely, 54% of all Magistrates are women. 93% of all Judges are white – it’s already been pointed out that most are men. The jury is therefore still out on how successful the recent judicial diversity initiatives have been.

 

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