Bar Council: New statistics show more must be done on diversity in the judiciary

Responding to today’s publication of the official Diversity of the Judiciary 2021 Statistics, Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said: “This data should help us to take action to improve diversity in the judiciary. We need to understand why, when ethnic minority barrister candidates of Black and Asian backgrounds are disproportionately more likely to apply for judicial appointment, they remain consistently less successful than their white counterparts. Until we understand whether there is problem in the appointment process, or whether the issue is experience – or both – we are operating in the dark.

“To take effective action the Judicial Diversity Forum needs to better understand the varying success rates of different ethnic groups applying to the judiciary.

“The professions are playing their part. Alongside joint work with the JDF, the Bar Council has an extensive programme of work in the areas of access, retention and progression across the profession, as well as a major project to support fairer distribution of work, focusing on under-represented groups at the Bar. We firmly believe fairer access to quality work will support both the retention and progression of under-represented groups. From the perspective of judicial careers, this work must be matched by a closer look at how judges are recruited and supported to take on more senior posts in the judiciary if the efforts to diversify the legal professions are to be reflected in judicial recruitment at all levels.

“These statistics show that more work needs to be done to improve diversity in the judiciary, not only in relation to gender and ethnicity. More data (and work) is also required on other protected characteristics and socio-economic backgrounds if we are to change the make-up of the judiciary in England and Wales.”

The Diversity of the Judiciary 2021 report can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/diversity-of-the-judiciary-2021-statistics

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