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The Ways Superior And Inferior Judges Are Appointed

904 words - 4 pages

The Ways Superior and Inferior Judges Are Appointed

The Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 brought in significant changes
regarding appointment. Traditionally all judges were drawn from The
Bar. Positions were not advertised and direct applications for
positions were not acceptable. The 1990 Act has increased the pool of
prospective judges by making judicial appointments open to solicitors
as well as barristers, so long as they have the requisite number of
years' experience of advocacy in the higher courts. Vacancies for
Court and district judges are now advertised and it is possible to
submit applications to The Lord Chancellor's department.

Prior to 1990 the traditional criticism levelled at judges was that
they were drawn almost exclusively from the public school background
shared by most practising barristers. This resulted in the judiciary
being a highly partisan and conservative body that did not represent
the wider public interest, but only the interests of the upper-middle
class. The selection process was highly secretive, with the senior
officials from The Lord Chancellor's department searching for suitable
applicants by holding private conversations with serving judges and
senior barristers.

The opening up of the judiciary to solicitors is a welcome developed
in theory a sit should allow the best candidates from both branches of
the legal profession to be selected. However, we have yet to see any
really significant increase in the number of solicitors becoming
judges, as relatively few solicitors have decided to seek the
qualifications allowing them to advocate in the higher courts. Also,
while solicitors come from a wider range of social backgrounds than
barristers do, they are still generally middle-classed and educated in
good schools. The advertising of some judicial positions can only be a
good thing, but there is no evidence that the traditional process of
compiling files and vetting possible candidates through secret talks
with serving judges has changed.

It is still difficult for renowned academics to become judges, as they
have much to offer, because of their ability to foresee the
implications of any decision on the wider body of law. Academics would
provide the appeal courts with a wider range of experience and values
and making any judicial comments on what is 'in the...

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