Bar chiefs urge action to boost ethnic minority candidates for bench

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Jun 02, 2017
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Only 6 per cent of recommendations for judicial posts were from an ethnic minority

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Bar leaders urged action yesterday to boost the numbers of ethnic minority candidates for the judiciary after figures showed a large discard rate among applicants for judicial jobs. 
 
The latest figures from the Judicial Appointments Commission showed that ethnic minority candidates made up 20 per cent of applicants but only 6 per cent of recommendations for appointment for judicial posts. They also made up 23 per cent of deputy district judge applicants but only 6 per cent of recommendations for appointment. There were no black and ethnic minority applicants for senior judicial roles.
 
Solicitors also fared badly: 43 per cent of applicants for legal jobs were from that side of the legal profession but they represented only 10 per cent of appointments.
 
However, there was some progress. Fifteen per cent of the recommended candidates for deputy High Court judgeships were from ethnic minority backgrounds, and the first ethnic minority judge was appointed to the Old Bailey.
 
The latest figures also showed that women made up 42 per cent of applicants but only 35 per cent of recommendations for appointment. And while the success rate for women seeking to be High Court judges is proportionate to those who applied, women made up only 35 per cent of the pool of applicants.
 
Robin Allen, QC, the chairman of the Bar Council’s equality and diversity committee, said: “We cannot go on having no BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] applications for senior judicial roles. The rule of law requires a fully diverse judiciary. Once again the figures reveal the urgent need for positive action to make BAME applicants more successful and to increase the number of eligible women applicants. 

“These figures stress the importance of the Bar Council’s ongoing training and coaching programmes for BAME and women lawyers who wish to serve as members of the judiciary.”

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