British Judiciary

Published: 2021-07-01 06:17:36
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Category: Justice

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Does the composition of the Judiciary adequately represent British society today? The key purpose of this essay Is to explore and critically analyses the current composition of the British judiciary as it stands today. Using statistics, reports and articles this paper will attempt to illuminate the subject, and in turn, explain why the judiciary seems to be a force of older, white males, yet has an apparent absence of women and ethnic minorities amongst the higher positions of the courts system.
To fully accomplish this objective there are a number of areas that this paper hopes to dress Insightfully and Informatively, the first of these being social perceptions of the Judiciary, and to explore If this has any Impact on Its makeup. Secondly, we will examine the education system before and after the 20th century. Here, we will look at changes, if any, that have been made to accommodate more of a diverse make up of judges. Lastly, we will look into discrimination, and if this plays any factor in the current Judiciary.
Picture in your mind, a Judge in court. Almost everyone will have a similar Image; an older gentleman, most likely middle class In a flowing gown and a white wig upon his head. This stereotype seems to be almost Ingrained Into public consciousness, even to the point that the opening line on the governments judiciary diversity page reads: "A common description of a judicial office-holder is "pale and male" - a white man, probably educated at public school and Sobering. " [1] Is this a fair representation of British society today?



A resounding "No" is the most likely answer. However, could It not also be a statement of the type of person applying to and climbing the ladders of the British legal system? One could argue that this reception almost immediately hinders people not of that typecast to even try to enter the legal field in fear of failure. Unfortunately, this is a much wider, and slightly off topic area that would need further study in order to obtain a veracious answer. When addressing education, we must look back, to history, in order to move forward.
Prior to 1930, women were excluded from gaining degrees from two of the more prestigious universities, Oxford and Cambridge, and even needed special permission Just to attend lectures. This Is clearly a huge factor when addressing the question of why there Is a disparity between the Judiciary and the current make up of British society. A study in 2004 by the Sutton Trust[2] found that 81% of judges had attended either Oxford or Cambridge. When we take this into account, we see that it is a very esoteric selection that makes up the Judges of the English court system.
Another factor to look at is the time it takes to ascend the ranks of the Judiciary. One possible argument Is that the current make up of Judges reflects upon those who were entering the legal field many years ago, when women and ethnic minorities may have men either discouraged, or simply barred from entering higher education. Take for example the current Lord Chief Justice Baron Thomas of Complied. Baron Thomas was called to the bar in 1969, and after working his way up through the positions of the courts systems, was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales on 1 October 2013.
What we can take from this information is that It does Indeed take an extraordinarily long time to ascend ranks In the English legal system. If we look back compared to today, we see that the number of female barristers has more than doubled. A study in 2010 by the Bar Council[3] showed 53% of all barristers in England are now female. If this trend continues; surely we will see a marked improvement in the makeup of the English Judiciary in years to come. When addressing possible discrimination, it is important to base arguments on facts and statistics, rather than conjecture, in order to draw a valid conclusion.
A study by the Law Society shows that in the year 2005, "Of the 9,665 students enrolled with the Society, 63. 5% were women and 25. 2% were from a minority ethnic group, compared with only 54% and 17. 2% respectively in 1994-95"[4] What this tells us is that women ND ethnic minorities entering the legal field is on the rise, which is in stark contrast to the notion mentioned earlier that there is a clear absence. As we discussed earlier, the amount of time it takes to ascend through the court systems is lengthy and arduous.
This coupled with the fact that white males were predominately applying for legal Jobs some forty or so years ago, perhaps shows that the higher courts are limited in the people they choose to appoint to the most senior roles. A study conducted in 2011 by the House of Lords Constitution Committee[5] showed that only 5. % of Judges were Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, and 22. 3% were women. Again, does this show a lack of diversity in the courts, or simply positive changes brought forward by changing social standards?
To really address this issue, one would have to re-evaluate the court structure in another fifteen to twenty years to assess whether or not women and ethnic minorities are in more prominent positions at that time. To encapsulate, I would simply say from the research I have conducted, that there is a very narrow spectrum for the Judiciary to promote from. Given that we already have nee female Judge in the Supreme Court, this to me shows that women are making it into the higher positions of the court system.
Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be happening quickly enough, with recommendations to increase diversity including statements such as: "While appointment based on merit is vital and should continue, the committee supports the application Offs 159 of the Equalities Act 2010 to Judicial appointments. This would allow the desire to encourage diversity to be a relevant factor"[6]. I would argue however, that diversity for the sake of diversity itself is not meeting that should be forced, especially when dealing with something as important as a countries legal infrastructure.
Whilst I agree that there perhaps should be a more diverse range of people in the English Judiciary, I must stress that this is something I feel should be allowed to happen naturally, at its own course. When looking at statistics for female and ethnic minorities, we have seen a sharp rise in the range of individuals entering and being promoted through the legal hierarchy. This surely speaks for itself, and any promotions or appointments made based upon raying to create diversity could, in my opinion, be a recipe for disaster.

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