Legal executives to join the judiciary

Legal executives, patent agents and trade mark attorneys will have the chance to become judges under changes designed to increase diversity in the judiciary.

Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, made the announcement this morning (Wednesday, 13 July) on behalf of the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA). The news follows a consultation paper on increasing diversity among judges.

New legislation will be introduced to allow the changes, when Parliamentary time allows. In the future, applicants for judicial office will only have had to be legally qualified for five or seven years, depending on the post, instead of the seven or 10 years’ “right of audience” currently required.

Patent agents and trade mark attorneys will be able to apply for judicial roles in the Patents Court, county courts and appropriate tribunals, while legal executives will have the opportunity to become judges in county courts, magistrates courts and tribunals.

Falconer stressed that appointment of judges would continue to be on merit, and applicants will face “a rigorous, competitive, competence-based selection process”.