Lady Justices Hallett and Sharp tipped to join Baroness Hale at top of the judiciary

Beyoncé could get some friends

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The country’s top legal commentator has given his predictions about future candidates for the Supreme Court bench, including only two women and no ethnic minority judges.

The next three years will see half of the Supreme Court justices retire — including top dog Lord Neuberger — and these stars need replacing.

Speculation about who these replacements will be really took flight today. Honorary QC and top legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg — who has recently begun writing a series for the Legal Cheek Journal — has made his predictions for the top job. Having written extensively about the judiciary over the course of his career, Rozenberg is more than well positioned to make this forecast and, if he’s right, law student favourite Lady Hale may well be about to get some more female friends on the prestigious bench.

Rozenberg has flagged up two leading ladies in his article, published this morning — Lady Justice Sharp and Lady Justice Hallett. It seems Rozenberg thinks both women would be up to the task of joining Hale — the Beyoncé of the Supreme Court — on the bench, but it’s Sharp he’s really punting for. Describing her as the “judge to watch”, he notes that the 60 year-old has whizzed her way to the position of vice-president of the Queen’s Bench Division, having only been appointed to the Court of Appeal less than three years ago.

He’s less sure about Hallett. Speaking about her chances of nabbing a Supreme Court justice appointment, Rozenberg notes that the Court of Appeal judge — often photographed wearing her staple blue eyeliner — “would be up for it”. However, she might be a bit too old. Most of the contenders named are in their early 60s, with Lord Justice Sales coming up trumps as the youngest mentioned. A spring chicken at 54 years old, Sales is closely followed by Lord Justice Ryder — the second youngest at “only” 58.

The problem for 66 year-old Hallett is that Supreme Court justices must retire from the bench aged 70, which doesn’t give her long to leave her mark. Rozenberg explained:

She would have to retire after little more than two years in post… . But leadership posts in the judiciary are generally held by people who can serve for four or five years. Two years is too short.

Other contenders named by the legal journalist include openly gay judges Sir Terence Etherton and Lord Justice Fulford. There is no mention of any ethnic minority judges, and no more women.

Having only identified two female contenders in his article — one of which he then partially discounted — Rozenberg seems to predict that a male dominated bench is here to stay. The indefensible gender imbalance on the bench has long proved a heavy point of contention, and one that Hale herself has been very vocal about. Addressing the crowd at a recent event hosted by The Times, she said:

There is a special place in hell reserved for the first woman that achieves a certain status and then doesn’t help to lay the groundwork for the second, third, fourth, fifth and so on to follow after her. I really need to see another woman on the Supreme Court.

The reaction from some top women lawyers to Rozenberg’s predictions has been mixed, with leading barrister Dinah Rose QC describing the lack of women in the top court as “embarrassing”.

23 Comments

Anonymous

What were the names of the other members of Destiny’s Child?

Methinks LC might start calling these LJ’s their respective RnB counterparts’ names, along with Beyonce of course being Old Ruthy Deech.

(3)(2)
Just Anonymous

This issue is really incredibly simple.

Invite applications for any and all vacant positions.

Then select the best candidate for the job.

If the best candidate happens to be female, so be it. If the best candidate happens to be gay, so be it. if the best candidate happens to be a straight, white male, so be it.

(32)(3)
Anonymous

Don’t be silly. How else are we going to reach the mandatory requirement of a 50/50 gender split?!

(4)(2)
Humphrey Humptington QC

Screw that- lets do what we always have and give it to the whitest, straightest, most upper-middle class fellow we can find.

(8)(2)
Not Amused

We haven’t been appointing the best candidates to the SC for the last 10 years. Why on earth would we start now?

People, particularly journalists, need to stop assuming the current occupents are brilliant by virtue of having the job. The case law shows that they are demonstrably not brilliant.

No one would just assume the English football team were all amazing merely by virtue of being in the team …

(12)(10)
Anonymous

So you don’t actually disagree with me then? You agree that we should be appointing the best candidate. You merely think that the current system does not actually do that (which doesn’t contradict anything I said.)

So I suppose the question then becomes: what changes would you make to the recruitment system which would better ensure that the best candidate gets the job?

(10)(0)
Anonymous

The system hasn’t been fair for decades. I think most people would agree that female representation is so desirable in itself as to warrant departure from normal meritocratic procedures; imposed, might I add on a system which was far from meritocratic to start with.

(2)(6)
Anonymous

Please please please enough with the Beyoncé analogy. Get a grip Katie.

(27)(1)
Tyrion

Its really annoying and disrespectful to a senior judge.

Wait is this sexism? Has Katie been so indoctrinated by the male patriarchy that she is engaging in sexist conduct against a fellow woman?

(7)(0)
ZG

An overall respectable article from KK, but I have to ask:
Is LegalCheek deliberately taking the piss by trying to insert the word “top” into its articles as many times as possible? After Thomas’s chat with Lord Neuberger, I’m inclined to say yes.

(2)(1)
Just Anonymous

They do it for the same reason KK continually refers to Baroness Hale as Beyoncé – and will continue to do so:

Because it generates a reaction!

(8)(0)
Anonymous

Please stop with Beyoncé this is a legal website not UK Top 40 or Radio 1

(4)(1)
Anonymous

Yo Katie King, I’m real happy for you, I’m a let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.

(1)(1)
Anonymous

Time for someone to start Fantasy Judiciary surely? Choose your bench of 3, then 25pts if they’re appointed LCJ, 20pts to the Supreme Court or MR. 15pts any other head of division etc etc

(0)(0)
Anonymous

Lady Hale should choose the new Supreme Judges – all female, of course!

(0)(0)
Anonymous

What’s all this “special place in hell” nonsense from the Sistahood? They are opposed to the Old Boys’ Network, but have no compunction about setting up an Old Girls’ Network.

The same fire and brimstone threat was made to women in America recently by Madeline Altogethernotsobright in warning of the consequences for women if they failed to elect as President of the United States a woman who professed that using two email accounts was just too complicated for her little brain to cope with.

There should be a special place in hell for those who reduce Supreme Court nominations to the level of the gender wars.

(2)(0)
Henry

Why does Lady Justice Sharp condone the ‘Go f**k Allah, the camel’ emails in this Norway libel case? Is it because the victims grandfather fought for Adolf Hitler? Guess so.

The Norwegian establishment, invaded by the Nazi’s of course, started the abuse as is amply shown on http://www.johanmartinwelhaven.com from Norway.

(0)(0)
Sally

Joshua Rozenberg and Lady Justice Sharp are both Jewish. So no ethnic minority judges will have a look in for now. Madeleine Sharp does not like Muslims – so much is obvious from the German/Muslim Claimant in the libel case referred to above.

(0)(0)

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