Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity

Justice written statement – made at on 28 April 2009.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

The challenge of forming a diverse judiciary is substantial. The work of the Judicial Appointments Commission's (JAC's) Judicial Diversity Forum and proactive trilateral work between the Ministry of Justice, the judiciary and the JAC has made this clear. While the JAC has encouraged more diverse applications to the judiciary and the efforts of the trilateral work have meant that we are now seeing increasing numbers of women and black and minority ethnic applicants for judicial office, progress has been slower than we would like.

Given the personal commitment of the Lord Chief Justice and the chairman of the JAC to this cause, we need a better understanding of the factors behind this relative lack of progress and a clear agenda for how we move forward.

I have therefore decided to establish an advisory panel on judicial diversity to be chaired by Baroness Julia Neuberger with the following terms of reference:

To identify the barriers to progress on judicial diversity and to make recommendations to the Lord Chancellor on how to make speedier and sustained progress to a more diverse judiciary at every level and in all courts in England & Wales.

In considering this question the panel will:

Examine the nature of the problem.

Consider research undertaken on the UK system as well as considering international comparators.

Draw on the lessons learned from current initiatives, including the JAC Judicial Diversity Forum and the follow up work from the Lord Chief Justice's conference on "A Judiciary for the 21st century".

Draw up a list of practical measures that could be taken, identifying those that could happen quickly and those that would require legislation.

The panel is asked to report to the Lord Chancellor no later than November 2009.

The other members of the panel are Lord Justice Goldring, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Andrew Holroyd CBE, Winston Hunter QC, Dr Nicola Brewer.

This will be work that must bring together and make the best use of the combined expertise of the senior judiciary, the JAC, the legal professions and diversity and equality advisers to identify how we can make swifter progress to a judiciary more reflective of the communities it serves.