Judges lead ‘sheltered lives’, warns Britain’s most senior female judge ~ David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent, and John Bingham, The Telegraph.
Britain’s most senior female judge has warned that her colleagues on the bench may lack common sense because they have lived “sheltered lives”.
Baroness Hale of Richmond, the first and only woman to sit in the Supreme Court, echoed a criticism view that judges who have risen through the Bar, the Temples and other parts of the “establishment” are not always ideally placed to cast judgment on the complexities of modern life.
In a speech, Lady Hale said: “If the life-blood of the law is experience and common sense, then whose experience and common sense are we talking about?
“Surely it cannot only be the experience and common sense of the judges, many of whom have led such sheltered lives? As I was once rude enough to say publicly, ‘one man’s common sense is another woman’s hopeless idiocy’.”
Last year the Judicial College announced that judges would be given lessons in popular culture, as well as other social issues such as unemployment, so they were “fully aware of what is happening on the streets of Britain”.
It came after years of jokes about out of touch judges who would ask embarrassing questions in court, notably Mr Justice Harman asking “who is Gazza?” when Paul Gascoigne, the international footballer was at the height of his fame.
Lady Hale has previously criticised the way judicial appointments are made from a pool of predominantly white males from similar backgrounds.
In her speech at the University of York, Lady Hale said: “I think that judges ignore the wider context in which they do their work at their peril.
“And it is therefore dangerous for the common law to rely upon the experience and common sense of a comparatively narrow section of society.
“One counter to this is the study of law in its wider context. Another, of course, is to recruit our judges from a wider section of society.”
She also told the Socio-Legal Studies Association conference that more work should be done to ensure juries abide by instructions from the court to prevent them researching cases independently.
“We clearly need more research on what works and what does not work in getting juries to do as they are told,” she said.
- Judges lead ‘sheltered lives’, warns Britain’s most senior female judge (telegraph.co.uk)
- Law profession can’t handle talented women, says Baroness Hale (independent.co.uk)
- Three men to join Supreme Court (thetimes.co.uk)
- UK’s most senior female judge calls for more diversity at the top (guardian.co.uk)
- More women should be given top jobs in law, says Britain’s most senior female judge as she condemns ‘sexist’ legal profession (dailymail.co.uk)
- Britain’s most senior female judge: our legal system is still not promoting enough women (telegraph.co.uk)
- Attack of the Clones: Supreme Court keeps its white male first eleven (ukhumanrightsblog.com)
- Significant Harm and The Threshold: Suspicions or Possibilities Are Not Enough (researchingreform.wordpress.com)
- Judges would regret Human Rights Act repeal, warns Lady Hale (guardian.co.uk)
- Britain’s most senior judge takes aim at gender imbalance (guardian.co.uk)