'Play down' judges' role in recorder recruitment

JUDGES' opinions should count for less when considering candidates for assistant recorder appointments, according to a Law Society report.

The report, going to the House of Commons' home affairs committee on judicial appointments, outlines a number of reforms to the appointments system in the light of increasing numbers of solicitor applications.

It says reliance on views of the existing judiciary “leads to serious gaps in the information available to make decisions on candidates” because virtually all judges are barristers.

It also suggests learning from the example of the civil service, which carries out direct recruitment to senior posts from applicants with significant experience in the outside world.

The report, which went before the society's council last week, also criticises the need for applicants to serve part-time before being considered.

But the report was branded “comfortable and cosy” by Law Society council member Tony Girling, who said it was still extremely difficult for a partner in his or her 30s to take time off work to get the relevant experience.

Council member Tony Holland said the appointments procedure had barely changed and was still the same system it was 10 years ago.