Research: Israel, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa all have more diverse judiciaries than us

Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the USA too

The United Kingdom has one of the least diverse senior judiciaries in the world and “unpopular” decisions must be taken if we are going to ensure this improves.

These are the recommendations of human rights group JUSTICE, whose new report raises serious concerns about the make-up of our judges in terms of their gender, ethnicity and schooling.

On the former, the report notes that 21% of Court of Appeal, 21% of High Court and 26% of Circuit Bench judges are women. In the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court, there’s just one female justice (8%) — Lady Hale. When compared to other countries’ senior courts, this is incredibly poor, as this table shows:

To make a continental comparison, last year we reported that the UK is at the bottom of the Europe-wide gender diversity league table. Only Azerbaijan (11%), Armenia (23%), Northern Ireland (23%) and Scotland (23%) have a lower percentage of female professional judges.

The new report, JUSTICE’s third on judicial diversity, also criticises the senior judiciary for its “almost total lack of visible BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] people.” It points out that just two judges in the entire High Court and Court of Appeal are non-white (less than 2%). JUSTICE describes this as “simply unacceptable”.

The impact of an almost all-white judiciary has been brought to the forefront of our minds this week by an article from Doughty Street barrister Tunde Okewale. The criminal law specialist believes the over-representation of BAME defendants can be explained by under-representation in the judiciary. He asks:

If a judge, barrister, solicitor or police officer cannot relate to the ordinary people who rely on them to provide justice, can justice really be just?

JUSTICE’s report is also very critical of the judiciary’s disproportionate recruitment of privately educated lawyers.

In the High Court and the Court of Appeal, approximately 75% of judges are privately educated; this has remained constant since the 1980s. Just 7% of the general population is privately educated. Though the report does note not all non-state schooled judges reason in the same way, there will be “far greater variety of thought when most of the senior judiciary do not hail from this fairly narrow subset of society.”

The lack of diversity is clear; “the question is what to do about it.” Though the likes of Hale have long called for the introduction of gender diversity targets, this idea has not yet been taken up, with authorities punting for more of a ‘wait and see’ approach. This won’t do, JUSTICE says:

Simply leaving change to organic processes is taking far too long and, on current projections, will never deliver sufficient diversity to the bench.

Going beyond Hale’s recommendations, JUSTICE urges the introduction of selection body targets “with teeth”, meaning the bodies in question will be monitored and must report their progress to the justice select committee. Interestingly, the report also recommends the creation of “an upward judicial career path”, whereby junior lawyers with aspirations to sit on the bench take up an “entry-level” position and “work their way to the top.”

Read the report in full below:

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Mouthbreather #1


There we go: I’ve anticipated a whole comments thread. Saved you all some time.


That’s what has you waking up at night in cold sweats, that it is done on merit, and that’s the reason why it’s so difficult to socially engineer the world according to your febrile vision of the harmonious ethnic “melting pot” which only exists in NGO brochure stock photos or of the Nicola Horlick supermum characters you read about in the Sunday Times Magazine.


I see! So it’s just that British women are less meritorious than women from the other nations in the article? Got it. Thanks for clarifying.

Women of Britain! Buck up your ideas!


Might this research show how many Arab ethnicity judges in Apartheid Israel?


Not sure if you were being ironic but Salim Joubran is an Israeli Supreme Court judge and it’s safe to assume that there will be lower ranking Arab judges as well.
Seeing as black people couldn’t even use the same benches as white people under Apartheid, I’m not sure the assertion that there is Apartheid in Israel even needs refuting.


Can’t think of a more wasteful use of resources. There’s people struggling feed their kids in this country, and we’re worried about such lofty notions as ‘judicial diversity’.

Maybe we should devote energy to the real gritty problems facing people when they wake up in the morning. I guarantee you its not how many of judges have black skin.


“Can’t think of a more wasteful use of resources.”

You really should think harder, in that case.


For many people, be they women, disabled or black, there is a concern/question which arises in the event the enter the legal machine – how can that rich white man sitting there know anything about this situation/understand me.

I’ve heard it several times from clients (sometimes with additional words which may well be censored on this website)….

Rupert; a US firm trainee.

Appointments should be all based on merits only. That’s the long and short of it.

Mouthbreather #1

Engage your brain for a second.

1) Other nations with comparable economic and politicial systems manage to have far larger proportions of women on their highest courts.

2)There is no reason to think that women in the law in those other nations are any more able than British women in the law.

3) Points 1 and 2 are sufficient reason to at least question whether there is something going on in UK judicial recruitment that disadvantages women.

4) If there is something going on that disadvantages women, then appointments are not being made purely on merit. There is a thumb on the scale.

Just in case you don’t get it: no one is suggesting that the members of the judicial appointments commission are sitting around in a room plotting to keep women out of the judiciary. The suspicion is that there are structural factors at play that disadvantage women when it comes to recruitment to the higher ranks of the judiciary. The fact that many nations with comparable judicial systems do not have such a dearth of women in the upper ranks of their judiciary ought logically to strengthen that suspicion.


Women are good, men are bad, we get the point Katie King. Please just stop with this toilet paper journalism already


I’ve thought about this, and I think we would immediately start to see the benefits of increased diversity in the workplace if more of Katie King’s articles could be written by a man. Or an Inuit lesbian. Aztec tranny? Don’t care really, as long as it’s somebody else.


I have reported this comment a couple of times and I’m not sure why it is being allowed to stay. “Tranny” is an offensive term.


No surprises here; the posh white male has an out of control entitlement attitude in the racist, sexist and disablist legal profession, fancying that only they are good enough for top legal jobs, while all along proving that they are not, by spraying around profound ignorance and feeble logic.

Aggressive positive discrimination and quotas are needed on an emergency basis to improve the representation of women, black people, disabled people and other underrepresented groups in senior legal positions.

Bumblebee Crusader

Between 2012 and 2014, 335 UK/EU students attained the grade ‘Outstanding’ on the BPTC. Of those, 293-296 (87.5 – 88.4%) were white.

Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, 1,333 – 1,348 students commenced a pupillage in a England and Wales. Of those, just 1,063 (78.9 – 79.7%) were white.

Therefore, when controlling for ability, white students are significantly underrepresented when it comes to pupillage enrolment.

Legal Cheek, I know you care DEEPLY about diversity issues. Can you please investigate and report on this prima facie case of discrimination against white students.


Are you secretly working for BPP or something, you seem to be operating on the mistaken belief that anyone cares about BPTC results?

Undergraduate degree results/institution is a much better proxy for pupillage.

Or have you just found a statistic that you think justifies your own warped worldview?


“Undergraduate degree results/institution is a much better proxy for pupillage.”

Wrong. Everyone knows that chambers care greatly about degree results/institution and couldn’t care less about BPTC results. However, the BSB figures show that BPTC attainment has STRONGER predictive power when it comes to getting pupillage.

Think about that for a second. A variable which chambers deliberately decline to consider has better predictive value than variables upon which they place the most weight.

“Or have you just found a statistic that you think justifies your own warped worldview?”

My worldview is defined by the evidence, not vice versa.

Take for instance Mouthbreather #1. S/he sees difference in attainment when it comes to judicial appointments, and s/he suggests that ability is loosely controlled for because “[t]here is no reason to think that women in those other nations are any more able [sic] than British”.

I, on the other hand, see difference in attainment when it comes to pupillage, and I suggest that ability is controlled for if we only consider students who achieve the EXACT same grade in a course for which (i) everyone has access to the same teaching, (ii) everyone has access to the same course materials, and (iii) everyone sits the same (blindly marked) exams.

I ask you, who is loosely using data to support a warped worldview, and who is using data properly so as to elucidate the true picture.

Mouthbreather #1

I’d like to throw in the mix that to really understand whether there are racial biases in pupillage recruitment (again, I’m not suggesting that there is any significant deliberate discrimination: we are talking about unconscious and structural biases here) we would need to know what type of pupillages those from ethnic minorities were getting. The bar is a pretty heterogenous profession. If all the juicy commercial pupillages are going to posh white guys and all of the pupillages in publicly funded work, many of which might not lead to financially viable careers, are going to people from ethnic minorities, that in itself is problematic. Personal experience, including of recent recruitment at my own set and our competitors, suggests that might well be the case.


The BSB-Media-SJW coalition mindlessly parrot ‘diversity at the Bar’, ‘diversity at the Bar’, ‘diversity at the Bar’. Then, when I provide clear evidence that that able white students are less likely to get pupillage than their BME counterparts, it suddenly becomes ‘diversity at the Commercial Bar’.

First, you’ve moved the goalposts.

Secondly, as I said yesterday, more than 15.7% of white UK/EU students get an Outstanding, compared to less than 3.7% for their BME equivalents. If, in general, white students are far more likely to be able than BME students, it stands to reason that ABLE white students are far more likely to be EXCEPTIONALLY ABLE than able BME students. Therefore, even if we gave any weight at all to your unverifiable anecdote concerning an unsystematic analysis of data from a very small sample (which we obviously shouldn’t), it would lead us nowhere. We should EXPECT white candidates to be overrepresented at the Commercial Bar for the exact same reason that (when we don’t control for ability) we see white candidates overrepresented at the Bar.

Thirdly, the BPTC is oversubscribed and demand for even the most undesirable of pupillages MASSIVELY exceeds supply. In other words, ALL pupillages are highly coveted. Let me put it like this. If, unlike the Bar in general, able BME candidates are not overrepresented at the Commercial Bar, this would necessarily mean that the discrimination faced by white students in other areas was even greater than the figures already suggest. Building on this, if the Commercial Bar was even slightly racist in favour of white students, this would virtually suggest that the publically funded Bar was being run by black supremacists.

Mouthbreather #1

I haven’t moved any goalposts. I didn’t set out any goalposts. I’m part of some big goalpost setting team or “BSB-Media-SJW coalition”. I’m making a point which I think is important and which I don’t think you have considered.

For the record I don’t think it is helpful to use words like “racist” in this discussion, when as I have repeatedly emphasised we are talking about inconscious and structural biases.


The posh white male invents the system and the exams and all the rest of it. He sets himself up as the unilateral arbiter of what is good and meritorious in his own precious system.

Then, surprise, surprise, the persons who do well under this system happen to be more posh white males.

Arrogance assumes itself to be objective.

Paul Widdecombe

The question is rather whether the aim is justice, or participation.

Female suffrage has become rather un-controversial now, as an idea. Can its success, or failure be measured by any objective measures? Or is the fact that its “nice & fair now everybody can play!” sufficient? Are better politics, or better (fairer) participation more important?

1) I mean, if you look at political debates from the last century, the general complexity of the ideas being discussed was undoubtedly far higher. An advocate for any given idea would begin a structured argument with an preamble, précis of the idea, a list of potential opposing arguments & reasons why those arguments might be flawed, or counterarguments with statistical backing to show that advantages outweighed disadvantages. Take a look in any old newspaper.

Modern political discourse focuses on how sad it is that something bad is happening & why the arguments against are flimsy excuses for its opponents being heartless, hatefull, greedy people (usually ending in -ism)

This observation alone could be attributed to the commonly accepted fact that women operate on a more emotional level than men. (alternatively, it could be that people are generally dumber today, or more plebs are involved in politics. Neither alternative strikes me as particularly good.)

2) Has Female involvement in politics led to qualitatively better policies at all? The obvious answer will be to point to the fact that women have voted for all this great stuff for themselves, but essentially, for a civilisation to survive, two things must be controlled – male aggression & female consumption. A womans simple, pre-societal, biological role was to bear & raise children. Sexual dimorphism has arose in the human animal precisely to allow a high biparental investment in offspring via a division of “labour”. (That’s why having babies is called labour…) i.e. regardless of other factors relating to strength & fitness, childbearing would rear a woman unable to gather her own resources whilst burdened, or perhaps even disabled, with children & a partner would gather resources on her behalf. Therefore, provisioning is a womans natural instinct, whereas risk is a mans. This isn’t to say that gender roles are completely inflexible, but when you ask most women about the best changes to society, they will typically say dumb stuff like, free childcare, free healthcare, free schools, free abortions, or whatever, with no awareness of the fact that nothing is “free” and that these things have consequences. For example, giving money to a low paid mother to put her child into childcare, so that she can go and look after somebody else’s kids for cash is idiotic & dyscivic on so many levels that if you cannot see it, I cannot explain it.

3) Has feminine involvement given us better governments? The advent of feminism coincided quite neatly with two of the most horrendous world wars. Girls like to paint themselves as pacifists, but rarely are in the face of war. Receiving a white feather from a feminist was one of the most horrific shaming experiences that men had been subjected to, at the time. Fortunately, most of us moderns don’t give a toss about that & if modern grlllz want to get camo’ed up & find out what it means to play Tiger Delta with the Talibs, then we will be happy to watch it all happen on YouTube. Speaking of which, we’ve had a whole heap of really pointless, bloody wars since women got involved. Nuclear hegemony has kept the peace, thankfully for us, along with serious military superiority, so it’s difficult to know on that one. Teresa May was keen to let us know that her lack of a Y chromosome wouldn’t prevent her from jabbing on the nuke button first, just the other day…

4) Can we say that Feminism in politics is sustainable in any meaningful way, given that most European cities are now only able to sustain themselves by importing people from countries where women would literally be locked in a basement, dressed in a potato sack & beaten if they presumed to have some of the rights western women have? There seems to be a force at work here that could best be described as “women destroy society to the extent men allow them to. ” That sign saying “prefer rapists over racists” at one of those “refugee welcome” rallies that are attended almost exclusively by women, ethnic minorities (bit short sighted, but fair enuff) and gamma males said it all. The way they pretend that the thousands of almost exclusively male, military aged, sub 80 IQ, Sub Saharan African males are somehow child refugees from the war in Syria, is desperately creepy.

For me, though – it was all over when:
a) 125million copies of 50 shades of grey were sold, about a women fantasising about being abused by a psychotic billionaire. (it wasn’t blokes buying – trust…)
b) Over half of the female population voted for the Golden Emperor of the USA
c) 5 million women knitted pink pussy hats & marched with more idiotic slogans than were previously thought possible. (Bcuz b had grabbed them right in the feelz…)

I mean, you don’t have to be some kind of Jewish head doctor to figure it all out do, ye? Although Sigmund might have raised an eyebrow or two…

Knitting. Seriously… Is that what feminist involvement in politics has come to? Knitting? Didn’t the original feminists throw themselves in front of the kings horse, or summat? Knitting – pink pussies. And wearing them on their heads?

Apart from the leader of the march – Linda Sarsour. She was wearing a hijab. Ho-kaaaaaay dokaaaaay…

So that’s where you’ve taken politics, girls. Now you want to have a stab at the justice system? Fine – absolutely fine by me.

No – seriously, it is seriously fine by me. Not because I think it will be fairer, or create better justice obviously, that would be idiotic. It will bring about the downfall of this moronic farce that we call “democracy”, or whatever, in which I have zero remaining credence. The sooner it ends, the less pain in the long run.


There are, I am sure, numerous points to be made for and against diversity. Included in those are policy points. And there is a sensible discussion and debate to be had either way, some making points for greater diversity and, yes, some making perfectly valid, intelligent and well thought out arguments for less.

But when you come out with the line “when you ask most women about the best changes to society, they will typically say dumb stuff”, you expose yourself as an utter bellend.

Paul Widdecombe

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Paul Widdecombe

AAAARGH, I nearly forgot to say:



So that settles it – by any objective measure, that is what you are.

And going back to the original point – that’s BS too. Nobody is allowed to discuss the pros & cons of dieversity in this day and age. That was the entire point of the post. You can discuss the pros & then suggest ways in which it could be even worse than it already is & how lucky we are that it isn’t already. Anything to the right of that and you are literally A.H.

Paul Widdecombe

…which was adequately demonstrated by your nose-holding-hand-waving response.

Being an eminently reasonable person, I will entertain any attempts you should try to make to explain to me the benefits of 100 years of female suffrage in the UK, on a purely dispassioned basis. But if you want to just do name calling – I will probably win, every time.

Out of interest – are you a woman?


Your response was obviously so vile it got deleted.

I am not a woman. I am a man who thinks, based on your post, style of writing, comments you make, etc. that you are a bellend.

Paul Widdecombe

Love the fact that you are now taking the moral high ground over name calling!

Correction – you are not a man who “thinks”, as evidenced by your inability to engage with me rationally. You are a beta-numale who “feelzzzz”

Use the word “feels” in future. It’s what you’re doing. If you have indeed given my comments any thought at all, you have failed to express it in your posts – the absence of any content is instantly apparent to anybody capable of reading them.

Specifics, if you wish to discuss things in a manly way. If you wish only to continue pouting, shrieking, pearl clutching, name calling, etc, then consider this my last response. Consider yourself fortunate that I have bothered to respond to your puerile name-calling at all.

Alternatively, we can meet up at a place of your choosing & you can repeat that to my face, if indeed you are a “man”


I’m sorry, you’re quite right, I don’t ‘think’ you’re a bellend. Thank you for correcting me and putting me on the right path.

I now *know* you’re a bellend.

Paul Widdecombe

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.


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