Equality in the judiciary

It has been a week of promotions in the world of dispute resolution, with the Supreme Court announcing the addition of three new judges to the bench and 84 barristers being awarded silk status.

Both sets of promotions, however, fail to heed the advice of the 2010 report by Baroness Neuberger, which emphasised the importance of judicial diversity and argued in favour of solicitor judges and women.

It is expected to be the last time that the Supreme Court will appoint a judge until 2018. Many believed it would be an opportunity to even up the gender and ethnic imbalance of the court, which is currently 10 to one in favour of white men. It was not to be.

Neither are we likely to see many solicitor advocates moving up through the ranks, with just one awarded silk this year. Skadden partner Karyl Nairn is the successful candidate recognised, no doubt in recognition of her work on the Berezovsky v Abramovich litigation for the Chelsea FC owner.

An annual shake-up of the profession by way of QC appointments helps career progression but not if it isn’t inclusive. More needs to be done if Britain’s judicial benches are to reflect its true demographics.

Elsewhere in litigation:

  • The first year as silk can be as challenging as the first year as a practising barrister. Here 11KBW’s Sean Jones QC talks about his first year as silk, while Monckton’s Tim Ward QC, who was made up in 2011, says the last two years have been the most hectic of his life.
  • QC in waiting James Turner of Quadrant Chambers give an insight into the personality behind the brain in our Bar Q&A session
  • And litigators are in demand: former Field Fisher Waterhouse partner Mark Abell has hired Herbert Smith Freehills partner Alan Watts in a partnership dispute with his former firm; Leigh Day & Co and Cloisters’ David Massarella are representing a former Travers Smith trainee who claims she was discriminated against because she was pregnant; and Kingsley Napley partner Angus McBride is preparing to appeal the three and a half year sentence handed to his client Rohan Pershad QC, who was found guilty of VAT fraud earlier this month