Rachel Jones: Increasing Judicial Diversity – A Constitutional Imperative?

“A final matter of interest is the causal role the report attributes to unconscious bias in explaining why our senior judiciary has proven resistant to change. As set out in the Introduction and Chapter IV of the report, highlighting unconscious bias is not about criticising individuals, nor about assigning blame. Rather, it is about using evidence to improve systems. Unconscious bias in favour of perpetuating the status quo, for example, is a reality borne out by a great deal of research. For many policy-makers this will already be familiar territory. All systems should account for human error: judges and lawyers are no different to doctors and pilots in this respect.”

UK Constitutional Law Association

Tuesday marked the launch of JUSTICE’s Working Party report, Increasing judicial diversity.  The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, spoke at the event, alongside Chair of the Working Party and leading public law barrister Nathalie Lieven QC. She urged those present to take up the report’s vision, and outlined recommendations for systemic, long-term change. Attendees included policy-makers, practitioners and members of the senior judiciary.

This post offers some brief reasons to support the report’s key contention: the current lack of gender, ethnic and social diversity in our highest courts is indeed a serious constitutional issue. With this in mind, the article then turns to consider some of the report’s key recommendations.

A complete list of the Working Party’s thirty recommendations can be found at the end of the report, and a fuller summary of its contents is provided in JUSTICE’s press release. Most of the information on which this article…

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