2149: The year the judiciary will be “fully representative”

Shuja: We cannot wait 120 years

It will take over 120 years before the judiciary in England and Wales is fully representative of the population, an analysis by the Law Society has shown.

Although the proportion of female and Asian judges is rising, the society said the proportion of Black judges is virtually unchanged from 2014 at 1.09%.

Lubna Shuja, president of the Law Society, said: “At that rate, it would take until 2149 for the proportion of the judiciary who are Black to match current estimates for the general population (3.5%).”

Ministry of Justice statistics showed that 1.02% of judges were Black in 2014. It has fluctuated marginally since and is now 1.09%. There are no Black judges at the High Court or Court of Appeal. They are best represented as district judges in the county court, with over 1.5%.

Asian and women judges were also being held back by “the glacial progress of diversity on the bench”.

On current trends, half of all judges would be female in a decade and 8% would be Asian by 2033, matching the proportion in the general population.

Women made up just under a quarter of judges in 2014 (24.5%). The proportion has risen steadily every year since then, reaching 35.4% this year.

In the case of the High Court, it has risen faster, from less than 18% in 2014 to 31.5%. Progress at the Court of Appeal has been more uneven, but the proportion has gone up from just under 19% in 2014 to 27%.

Again, there has been faster progress in the county court, with women making up 44% of district judges and 41% of deputy district judges.

The growth in the proportion of Asian judges has followed a similar pattern, increasing every year since 2014 from 2.5% to 4.8%.

Asian judges are best represented as district judges in the magistrates’ court (11.6%), followed by the county court (6.8%). At the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the figure is almost 3%.

Ms Shuja commented: “We need a judiciary that truly reflects our diverse society. We must take action and make real, lasting change so our judges can represent the people who come before them in court.

“We urge the UK government to address the structural barriers that are holding back talented candidates.

“We know that progress does not happen overnight, but we cannot wait over 120 years for women, Asian and Black judges to be fully representative on our court benches.”

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