Government launches judicial diversity campaign

The government today (13 October) launched a campaign to encourage diversity within the judiciary with a raft of radical new measures.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, and Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, jointly introduced the consultation paper titled Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary.

Among the suggestions in the paper are possibilities for judges in the lower courts to return to practice as well as the introduction of flexible sitting arrangements.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Lord Falconer said that the judiciary does not reflect the society it serves. He added: “In order to make a change, there needs to be a determination and a will.”

Lord Woolf said the judiciary fully supported the initiative, and the need was to find out why people were not applying to become judges at the moment.

Both Lords stressed that merit would continue to be the principle factor in appointing judges.

Currently, less than 25 per cent of the judiciary are women, with only one female appeal judge and just nine female high court judges. Less than seven per cent of judges come from an ethnic minority.

The consultation period runs until 21 January 2005.