A more diverse judiciary would result in a better standard of judges, the Lord Chief Justice declared today.
Speaking at the first judicial diversity conference, Sir Igor Judge emphasised that a strong judiciary should be manned by people from a range of backgrounds.
"The pool of potential candidates for appointment to judicial office is not as large nor as wide as it could be, and as I would emphasise, it should be," Sir Judge said. "Putting it bluntly, the larger the pool, the greater potential for better and better judges."
Sir Igor said the suggestion of setting appointment quotas to increase diversity was "unacceptably patronising", adding: "No judge should believe that his or her appointment has had something to do with his or her gender, or colour or creed, or that he or she was chosen to fill a gap in some quota scheme."
Delegates at the conference have been asked to consider practical solutions for increasing the pool of judicial candidates as well as addressing why lawyers fail to apply for positions in huge numbers.
In October the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) published data on seven selection exercises completed since 1 April 2008, including the selection exercise data for the High Court. Of the 22 High Court judges recommended for appointment by the JAC in 2008, five were women, which raised the number of female High Court judges to 17, the highest number ever.