Top judges welcome new legal year
The Supreme Court has come under fire for its lack of diversity after an image of the top bench welcoming the new legal year was shared online.
The image, posted to the Criminal Bar Association’s X account, shows all eleven robed-up justices posing outside the Supreme Court building in Westminster, London. The group processed from the court to Westminster Abbey yesterday to mark the opening of the new legal year.
Supreme Court justices
Start of the Legal Year pic.twitter.com/Y1fPbxZH8o
— The CBA (@TheCriminalBar) October 2, 2023
But the image of 10 men and one woman, all of whom are white, drew criticism from some online.
“Wow, super diverse!!!!” one person responded, while another wrote: “Only 1 woman?”
“Good grief!” a further X user commented. “You really need to work on improving diversity.” Another quipped: “The diversity in the choice of neck-ties is most impressive.”
The top court has long-grappled with the issue of diversity across its ranks.
SC president Lord Reed has previously spoken out about the lack of diversity on the UK’s top bench, warning the issue risked becoming “shameful if it persists”. Reed, who succeeded the court’s first female president, Lady Hale, went onto say that he hoped to see a justice of black, asian or minority ethnic background, before he takes mandatory retirement in several years time.
Responding to the criticism, a Supreme Court spokesperson told Legal Cheek:
“We know that certain people, including women, black, asian and other ethnic minority groups, and disabled lawyers continue to be underrepresented in the judiciary and in more senior levels of the legal profession. We are building strong links and working with representative organisations to help us to understand and learn from the experience of underrepresented groups and to enable us to take action that will lead to meaningful change and progress.”
The continued: “Progress is being made but more needs to be done to increase the pace of change. The Court will continue to play its part in removing barriers that prevent equal access to opportunity.”
In more positive diversity news, Legal Cheek reported yesterday that Dame Sue Carr had made history when she became the first woman ever to head up the judiciary of England and Wales. She will be known as Lady Chief Justice.