System is 'incorruptible' say judges

SENIOR judges have defended the current process of judicial appointment as the fairest and most effective system for sustaining an “incorruptible, impartial and expert” judiciary.

And most other alternative processes proposed so far would “inevitably” lead to the politicisation of the judiciary, the judges warn in a submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The Judges' Council, which represents the most senior judges, explains in its submission how the system of monitoring and assessing candidates ensures only the best-suited individuals become judges.

“Very few recruitment systems in use in the private sector are able to offer anything approaching this degree of assurance,” says the Judges' Council.

The Home Affairs committee will consider the council's paper along with other submissions this summer as part of its inquiry into judicial appointments procedures.

The committee has already received strongly critical views from lawyers' groups and individuals arguing that the judicial 'old boys' network discriminates against women, ethnic minorities and gays.

Some critics have advanced evidence from personal experiences of the system.

Judges' Council chair Lord Chief Justice Lord Taylor says the present system has worked well and provided senior judges as good as anywhere in the world today.

Judges must remain incorruptible, impartial and expert in order to satisfy their responsibility of providing “the ultimate bulwark” for defending individuals' rights in the face of what some people regard as an ever more powerful state, he says.

“No alternative proposal of which I am aware would deliver this, and most would lead inevitably to the politicisation of the senior judiciary,” he says.

Taylor: 'ultimate bulwark'