Leading lawyers call on judges to resign from Garrick Club

The Garrick Club dining room: Only chaps allowed

A group of 65 lawyers, including 12 KCs and two solicitors who are honorary KCs, has called on judges who are members of the men-only Garrick Club to resign with immediate effect.

The open letter argued that maintaining membership at the Garrick Club “is fundamentally incompatible with the core principles of justice, equality, and fairness”.

According to The Guardian, a host of leading judges are members, including Supreme Court justice Lord David Richards and Court of Appeal judges Sir Julian Flaux (head of the Chancery Division), Sir Keith Lindblom (Senior President of Tribunals), Sir Andrew Moylan, Sir Peter Coulson and Sir Charles Haddon-Cave.

The letter was organised by barristers Dr Charlotte Proudman and Elisabeth Traugott, both of Goldsmith Chambers.

The KC signatories so far are Nicola Braganza, Kate Brunner, Liz Davies, Professor Jo Delahunty, Liz Isaacs, Michael Mansfield, Hannah Markham, Jolyon Maugham, Keir Monteith, Caroline Shea, Brie Stevens-Hoare and Professor Leslie Thomas.

Jenny Beck and Dr Ann Olivarious, two high-profile solicitors who have been awarded honorary KCs, also signed.

The letter said: “The Garrick Club, along with its associated ethos, embodies a social and gendered ideology that starkly contrasts with the reality of the modern courtroom. It stands as a symbol of an entrenched anti-woman tradition comprising predominantly white male membership.

“We are concerned that membership perpetuates systemic discrimination against women within the highest echelons of societal influence.

“In our collective assessment, maintaining membership at the Garrick Club is fundamentally incompatible with the core principles of justice, equality, and fairness, particularly for senior members of the judiciary who significantly shape jurisprudence on gender-based discrimination and inequality and gendered crimes of violence and abuse.”

The letter observed that there has been public debate and controversy about membership of the Garrick Club by male KCs and judges for many years.

It quoted former Supreme Court president Baroness Hale as once saying at a law diversity event: “I regard it as quite shocking that so many of my colleagues belong to the Garrick, but they don’t see what all the fuss is about… [Judges] should be committed to the principle of equality for all.”

The letter concluded: “Membership in The Garrick Club is not compatible with the tenets of access and fairness that are cornerstones of our legal system. We therefore ask that any judge, whether they are a full-time member of the judiciary or fee-paid, resign their Garrick Club membership with immediate effect.”

To add your name to the letter, email GarrickClubJudges@gmail.com

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