Thomas: profound impact of changes to profession

Thomas: profound impact of changes to profession

The Lord Chief Justice has highlighted the “very worrying trend” of few appointments to silk outside of London and the impact this may have on diversity on the bench.

However, Lord Thomas also expressed hope that an upcoming competition for deputy High Court judges would deliver “the kind of pool [of candidates] we have never seen before”.

In a speech to the Temple Women’s Forum and Association of Women Barristers in late April which has only just been published, Lord Thomas looked at the factors that could influence the judiciary of the future.

He said one area that needed to be looked at “very carefully” was the trends in the appointments of silks.

“There was previously a rise in the number of women silks appointment; it fell back again, then in the current year returned to almost what it was at the highest point,” he said.

“There is also a trend that is perceivable that fewer of those who practise outside of London to take silk [sic]. For example, this year there were only five people appointed silk who practised in either the Northern or North-Eastern circuits. When you think that that includes Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, to name five important sectors of the Bar, it is a very worrying trend.”

Other important factors, he said, were change in the legal profession – legal aid cuts and the Legal Services Act “are having a profound impact” – and reform to Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service.

He cited as examples dealing with smaller civil claims online and proposals by JUSTICE to introduce a primary dispute resolution officer to case manage and resolve the majority of civil disputes, and to create an integrated online and telephone platform to help litigants to navigate their way through the newly reformed justice system.

Lord Thomas said: “We would hope to do much more, for the benefit of the public and users of the system, but I also hope that these changes… will benefit judges of the future who could have much more flexible ways of working.”

He also mentioned the likelihood of courts and tribunals coming closer together, allowing for “more flexible deployment between the two”.

His speech listed a range of actions the judiciary has taken to widen the pool of candidates for judicial appointment, including removing the requirement for previous judicial experience from the recruitment exercise for 14 deputy High Court judges, which is due to be launched next month.

In addition, there has been a scheme to support potential applicants from “non-traditional backgrounds” for these posts, which received 250 bids for 30 places.

Lord Thomas said: “I am very optimistic we will go forward with the kind of wide pool we [have] never seen before with the prospect of having new members of the High Court within a relatively short time.”


    Readers Comments

  • Emma says:

    The problem is, even when they do appoint QCs regionally, lots of them migrate to London anyway. I’m not sure this shout out, even if successful, would provide the result they’re looking for.
    Lots of (possibly misguided) barristers seeking silk are also leaving the regions to see if a London based practice can help. I don’t think the problem lays simply at the door of applications…


Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Reports

The working practices of property lawyers have changed little since the 19th century. Many aspects of the conveyancing process remain offline – documents are still on paper and the data entered manually. The commercial transaction process is laborious, slow and… Read More

Blog

20 June 2018

New tech on the block: what you need to know about blockchain

Blockchain. It’s been branded as the future of just about everything, and is soon expected to infiltrate all aspects of how we live our lives from banking, to tax returns to voting. But what is it, and how can it be used in property transactions?

Read More

18 June 2018

Surely no one would do this?

It’s slightly tongue-in-cheek, but let’s see if we can design a business model that is doomed to struggle and which will ensure that we miss out on the profit and cash opportunities that come with providing high-value services at high prices in a near-monopoly situation.

Read More