Spectators “not impressed”
The Court of Appeal will soon have six new justices gracing its bench.
Among the new Lord Justices of Appeal are Mr Justice Flaux, an Oxford-educated judge who specialises in commercial and immigration matters, and Mr Justice Hickinbottom, who was once a partner at what is now called CMS Cameron McKenna and — notably — used to be a parking adjudicator.
Also elevated to the appeal court’s ranks are chancery judge Mr Justice Henderson, Cambridge graduate Mr Justice Irwin and family lawyer Mr Justice Moylan. Rounding off the sensational six is Mrs Justice Thirlwall, who — unusually for a senior judge — did not study at either Oxford or Cambridge (but at the University of Bristol and Northumbria University instead).
With the latest judicial diversity stats showing 21% of judges sitting in the Court of Appeal are female and 0% are from black minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, with new appointees comes hope of improvement on the diversity front. But that’s not what we’ve seen from this latest recruitment round.
This new cohort of Court of Appeal benchers is, well, just not that diverse. As you will note from the titles, just one of the six newbies is female. None are BME, and almost all are Oxbridge-educated.
The lack of diversity is something that’s riled judiciary-watchers. Miranda Grell, who works at Hackney Law Centre, commented:
Really? 1 Lady Justice and 5 Lord Justices? Really???? Not impressed, Court of Appeal. https://t.co/AZ1ckYIGGr
— Miranda Grell (@MirandaGrell) September 13, 2016
While human rights lawyer Oliver Lewis made a similar point:
— Oliver Lewis (@olewis75) September 13, 2016
As Legal Cheek commented earlier this summer when the 2016 judicial diversity stats were announced, it’s likely the judiciary will come under pressure to do something about the lack of women, non-Oxbridge and BME judges in its senior ranks. It seems this latest recruitment round has done little to dispel this.