Bar Council Welcomes Lords Constitution Committee Report on Judicial Appointments

28 March 2012

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has welcomed the findings and recommendations of the House of Lords Constitution Committee in its report on Judicial Appointments published today. The inquiry, to which the former Chairman of the Bar, Peter Lodder QC, gave evidence, found that the principle of appointments based on merit is vital and should continue, an outcome which the Bar Council completely endorses.

Commenting on the report, Maura McGowan QC, Vice-Chairman of the Bar, said:

"We agree with many of the Committee's findings, particularly the overriding principle that appointments should be made on merit. We also support the Committee's views about the desirability of introducing more flexible working arrangements and career breaks to improve the diversity of the judiciary.

"The judiciary should be representative of the society it serves. We should always strive towards that aim. No candidate should face impediments based on their profession, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic background. The selection procedures for judicial appointments must be open, fair and accessible to all suitably qualified candidates. Appointments must be based on merit.

"The Bar's record on diversity at entry to the profession shows a record of steady improvement, with those Called to the Bar now largely representative of the balance of gender and ethnicity in society as a whole. We are also working hard on retention at the Bar, to encourage more women in particular to develop their careers in practice and become eligible for judicial appointments in due course. This takes time, but we are moving in the right direction.

"We will be working with the Judicial Appointments Commission to ensure that good quality candidates from the Bar, whatever their background, are encouraged to put themselves forward for consideration for appointment. 
 
"The Bar will play its full part in ensuring that the judiciary of tomorrow is fit for the future. We shall study the Report in detail and look forward to the Government's response."

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information please contact the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525.

2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

• The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
• Fair access to justice for all
• The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
• The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.