Legislative changes introduced by the Ministry of Justice to Parliament today will open up more senior judicial positions to CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) members for the first time, in a move expected to improve diversity in the judiciary.
The Ministry of Justice has laid a statutory instrument amending section 50 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 so that suitably qualified CILEX Lawyers can apply to become Recorders and Upper Tribunal judges, where currently they are unable to apply for posts higher than district judge (see Notes to Editors).
This reform means CILEX Lawyers will be able to preside in the Crown Court and on appeals in important tribunal matters, for example.
The Ministry of Justice has long recognised the impact that CILEX judges could have on improving the diversity of the judiciary. In large part due to its pioneering role in opening up the legal profession to non-graduates and through ‘earn as you learn’ training, CILEX’s membership is one of the most diverse in the legal profession – 77% of members are women, 16% are from ethnic minority backgrounds and 85% attended a state school.
CILEX Lawyers who have taken up judicial appointments since eligibility was introduced in 2007 have proven they are more than capable of taking on the responsibility. They include district and deputy district judges, and chairs of tribunals such as the Employment Tribunal, Medical Practitioners Tribunal and Police Misconduct Tribunal.
CILEX Chair Professor Chris Bones said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this move by the Ministry of Justice. Women and ethnic minorities are currently under-represented in our judicial system at a senior level. To promote confidence in the rule of law, we need a judiciary that is representative of the society we live in, and as one of the most diverse parts of the legal profession, CILEX is a key solution to accessing talent of greater diversity.
“Currently only 1% of the England and Wales judiciary are Black – this has remained the same since 2014. Although women make up nearly half of all tribunal judges, they are lacking in senior court roles.
“Judicial appointments should be based on merit; all lawyers regardless of their professional title should be able to apply for all judicial roles they are trained and competent to perform. The trailblazing judges among the ranks of CILEX Lawyers have shown they are more than up to the job.
“In giving its support to this much-needed, ground-breaking legislative change, CILEX is clear that this should be the first step to opening up all judicial posts to CILEX Lawyers who meet the required standards as the optimum way of enabling the broadest range of applicants to successfully join the judiciary.