Women and other groups in the past shunned from the top echelons of the British judiciary could soon have a new “positive action” law fall in their favour.
New measures set to break the stranglehold of white men at the top of the judiciary are being pushed by a committee of peers and MPs in the UK this week, The Times reports.
The group favours implementing a “tie-breaker” law, which would allow those who appoint judges to favour women and ethnic minority candidates where two candidates are otherwise equal.
The peers and MPs are members of the influential Joint Constitution Committee, which will also recommend a radical shake-up of the High Court and Crown Courts, where they want judges to only sit part time.
It argues the part-time judicial posts in civil cases at least, should be available in the Crown Prosecution Service where there are more women and ethnic minority applicants than in the private profession, The Times reports.
The peers and MPs argue that the Supreme Court is “self-perpetuating”, because the appointments process is dominated by senior judges.
The Court is a powerful branch of government, yet it made up of 11 white men and one white woman. Its eight most recent appointments have all been white men. Yet the Supreme Court appointments process typically involves the assessment of candidates by up to 26 individuals, 21 of whom are judges.
Professor Alan Paterson, of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies, who is co-author of the report told The Times: “It is no reflection on the high-calibre individuals appointed under this system to say that it is untenable as a system.”
Chris Paterson, a researcher at CentreForum and co-author of a report to be released this week, which castigates the present process of appointing senior judges, said a strong senior judiciary must be supported by an appropriate appointments system.
“Diversity, as a basic component of the Supreme Court’s ability to deliver justice in a modern society, must be integral to this.”
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