In 2022, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom had only one female judge, after the retirements of Lady Jill Black, Lady Mary Arden and Lady Brenda Hale. Despite the efforts of the current president, Lord Reed, to increase diversity, the court itself has stated that “there is no simple solution”.
The UK is trailing comparable countries in terms of gender and ethnicity of judges. While more women and people of colour are becoming district and tribunal judges, at the high court and above, change has been slow to non-existent.
The UK’s supreme court is the eldest of those sitting in the highest court of other countries following common law traditions, with an average age of 66.
The UK has the joint worst representation of female justices in the world, tied only with Pakistan.
Justice organisations and former Lord Chief Justices attribute the current lack of diversity in the judiciary to historical socio-political failures, but the Judicial Appointments Commission and senior legal professionals have reiterated their commitment toward judicial diversity.
Under the current system, barristers make up the majority of judicial offices. However, their income has fallen by nearly 30% over the past 20 years, and they are often paid less than the minimum wage for court hearings.
An interesting article about the lack of diversity and the implications to the legal profession that this causes can be read here, by Stephen Clear Lecturer in Constitutional and Administrative Law, and Public Procurement, Bangor University ina recent article in “The Conversation“.