Girl power: 5 female Court of Appeal judges captured in historic group portrait

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But the number of women in top judicial posts remains low

Image via @JoshuaRozenberg
Image via @JoshuaRozenberg

In what could be the judiciary’s answer to the Spice Girls, five Lady Justices of Appeal have been captured together in an historic painting.

The large art work, commissioned by Inner Temple, celebrates the achievements of its female members. The Inn now boasts five of the eight lady justices currently sitting in the Court of Appeal including: Lady Justice Hallett, Lady Justice Gloster, Lady Justice Black, Lady Justice King and Lady Justice Sharp.

Unveiled earlier this week, the painting — produced by critically-acclaimed artist Isabella Watling — depicts the top female judges gathered around a table in casual clothing. Joshua Rozenberg QC, who was in attendance at the big reveal, explained on Twitter that the five lady justices specifically opted not to wear their judicial robes in order to appear more “human”.

Hallett, who was the first woman to chair the Bar Council in 1998, became a full time High Court judge in 1999. Previously a barrister, Hallett — who acted as the coroner in the London 7/7 bombings inquest — was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2005.

Gloster served on the Queen’s Bench Division between 2004 and 2013. Promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2013, she will become vice-president of the Civil Division next month.

Black — who was called to the bar in 1976 — was appointed to the High Court’s Family Division in 1999. Having spent just over 10 years in the role, Black moved up to the Court of Appeal in 2010. Meanwhile King, who spent her High Court years in the Family Division, was awarded an honorary PhD from the University of Hull in 2011 for her contribution to law. She was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2014.

Last, but by no means least, Sharp — who became a recorder in 1998 — was made a Lady Justice of Appeal in 2013. At the start of this year she became vice-president of the Queen’s Bench Division.

The remaining three female Court of Appeal judges, who aren’t Inner Temple members and therefore not featured in the painting, are Lady Justice Arden, Lady Justice Macur and Lady Justice Rafferty.

But despite the strong showing of girl power, more still needs to done. According to judicial diversity stats released earlier this year, just 21% of Court of Appeal judges are female. And back in September, six high court judges were bumped up to the Court of Appeal. How many were woman? Just one, Lady Justice Thirlwall.



You ruined the article in the first sentence. Let’s not start all that “Beyoncé of the Supreme Court” nonsense again.



Why isn’t Katie King writing this post? She does still work for you, right?



She was not the brightest shilling in the pack.



She got a first class in law from Bristol, she must be pretty intelligent.

And no, I’m not Alex, or Tom, or Katie’s mum, or anyone connected to her or legal cheek.



It’s because you are her!



The plot thickens…


Gender identity politics is for the muppets.



“The judiciary’s answer to the Spice Girls”

Grow up, you utter infants.



The Spice Girl references in this article are totally banal



I see Elizabeth I, or Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Eleanor Roosevelt, or Amelia Earhart, or Mary Wollstonecraft, or Millicent Fawcett, or Rosa Luxemburg, or Marie Curie, or Edith Cavell. Hell, I even see Boudicca.

But I do NOT see the Spice Girls.

Buck up, Tom.



I’m from st albans, boudicca ransacked our town back on the day, screw her.



I mean she also razed Londinium to the ground… No need to be picky.


Harry Ramsden

They are not examples of diversity just because they are women. Privileged, white former barristers all.

Bad painting too. Alien features, long fingers and one forgot to put her bank statement down.



I respectfully disagree. Far fewer women would have been at the Bar when they entered the profession. I’d be very surprised if none of these women faced discrimination/sexism at some point. There’s also the question of reaching the top of your game whilst also having added exigencies of motherhood etc. They are very much a symbol of diversity for the fact that the more female judges we have, the greater the change on the law itself. Just look at the (what in my opinion can be considered) small revolutions triggered by Baroness Hale joining the SC.

Ethnicity and gender should be kept separate in diversity debates – the issues involved are quite different. It is especially important to be aware of this when we think of women of colour wanting to practise at the Bar: there’s a real chance of their facing double the number of obstacles, whether presented by society as a whole or by the profession itself.



The painting isn’t very good…



I know nothing about art but I think it’s brilliant.


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