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Panel calls for positive action to deal with judicial diversity gap

Panel calls for positive action to deal with judicial diversity gap

A panel tasked in April 2009 with identifying barriers to progress on judicial diversity has come back with over 53 recommendations to make the profession more inclusive. The 112 page report prepared by the Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity notably calls for full use of the final preference clause due to be introduced by the Single Equality Bill. This is a scenario where two candidates of equal ability are selected on the basis of their diversity characteristics.
 
Currently only 19% of judges are female with only 4.5% from an ethnic group. Of senior judges, out of 163, a miserly 3 are from an ethnic minority. Despite diversity existing in abundance at entry level within the legal profession few are filtering through to the judiciary the report finds.
The recommendations include a number of measures to encourage legal professionals from underrepresented groups to come forward and apply for judicial roles. These include introducing flexible working, mentoring and introducing “pro bono” style work to ease entry into the field.
 
Speaking about accepting all the recommendations, the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Jack Straw said: "I am determined that race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability should be no barrier to those with ability joining the judiciary and progressing within it. Becoming a judge must be, and must be seen to be, open to everyone with the right skills and qualities."
 
The document entitled “Report of the Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity” can be accessed here
 
posted by Asif Yusuf

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