LONDON, 19 JUNE: The UK&’s top judge has criticised the lack of ethnic minorities in the senior judiciary, describing it as ‘almost monolithic’.
Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, said the legal profession needed to do more to improve diversity in a speech at the Institute for Government last night.
Some progress had been made in addressing gender inequality, he said, acknowledging the three recent female appointments to the Court of Appeal. There are now seven women among the 38 Lord Justices of Appeal.
But he added: ‘A lot more work needs to be done in other respects: the ethnic minority representation among the senior judiciary is very low, and the socio-economic background of the senior judiciary is almost monolithic.’
The problem, Lord Neuberger, added, was that the judiciary was drawn from senior members of a legal profession where only 11 per cent of the leading QCs and partners in top firms were women.
‘The duty on the judiciary to improve diversity also applies to the legal profession,’ he said. ‘Lawyers occupy a special place in society, but that carries with it responsibilities as well as rights. The legal profession must do more to improve diversity. More broadly, if we really want to increase diversity, the problem has to be tackled throughout society, in our universities, schools and at home.’
Of the 12 Supreme Court justices, only one is a woman, while none are from ethnic minorities.
The majority are white, public school and Oxbridge educated. The appointment of three new justices in March did nothing to change the balance.
All five of the senior appointments in England and Wales ~ the Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls, and heads of the three High Court divisions ~ are white men.
While women now represent 18 per cent of judges in the Court of Appeal, there are no black or ethnic-minority justices. In the High Court, women make up 15 per cent of the 110 judges while only 5 per cent are non-white.