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

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By Thomas Connelly on

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.