Judicial Diversity Statistics 2016

Introduction from the Lord Chief Justice

Together with the Senior President of Tribunals I am pleased to announce the publication of the judicial diversity figures for 2016 and the first progress report of the Judicial Diversity Committee of the Judges’ Council.

As Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales, I have a responsibility to show leadership on diversity. I do so, not just because I have an express statutory duty to promote diversity; but because I believe strongly that it is imperative that we as judges do not sit back and wait for change but are active in improving the diversity of the judiciary.

It is encouraging that the figures show that the overall percentage of female judges in courts has increased this year from 25% to 28% whilst remaining stable at the more impressive figure of 45% in the tribunals. The percentage of female judges in courts stood at 23% in 2012. Within these figures the numbers of female judges in the High Court and the Court of Appeal remain stable at their highest levels but have not increased this year. There has been marked improvement since 2015 in Upper Tribunals (up 8 percentage points), among District Judges (County Court) (up 5 percentage points), among Recorders (up 4 percentage points) and on the Circuit benches (up 3 percentage points).

We are disappointed that there has been only a slight improvement in the total percentage of judges from a BAME  background. This is an area of concern and one where the Committee will be considering what more needs to be done [1].

The judiciary must be truly open to everyone of the requisite ability and we are hopeful that the variety of initiatives being actively pursued – led by the Judicial Diversity Committee of the Judges’ Council – will bring more diversity to the judiciary, more quickly.

Our activities have included networking events, outreach (to schools, colleges, universities, lawyers and community groups), judicial work shadowing, mentoring, application workshops and a dedicated support programme. As Lady Justice Hallett says in her introduction to the report, the Committee’s work whether in relation to initiatives designed to facilitate greater diversity from new recruitment into the judiciary, or to encourage career progression from existing members into more senior, challenging and prominent roles on the bench will not stop here .

The Senior President and I support the Judicial Diversity Committee’s plan to focus on monitoring and evaluation of all its initiatives. It is absolutely crucial that we continue to evaluate what we’re doing to improve, adapt and provide the best support possible.

These activities would not have been possible without the commitment of Lady Justice Hallett, Members of the Diversity Committee and the cadre of over 100 Diversity & Community Relations Judges and some 165 Judicial Role Models all of whom have given their support voluntarily.

Thank you also to the Judicial Appointments Commission and the professional bodies for their ongoing support.

Summary of results

The 2016 judicial diversity statistics were published on 28 July 2016 showing the figures for April 2016.

The statistics show that in April 2016:

  • The number of woman Court of Appeal Judges remains the same as last year at eight out of 39 (21 per cent) [2].
  • Twenty two out of 106 High Court Judges are women (21 per cent). In April 2015 the number was 21 (20 per cent).
  • In the courts the percentage of female judges has increased from April 2015 to April 2016 from 25% to 28%. In tribunals it remained stable at 45%.
  • The number of female Circuit Judges increased from 146 in April 2015 to 160 in April 2016 (from 23 per cent to 26 per cent)
  • A third (34%, compared with 36% in 2015) of court judges and two thirds (65%, compared with 67% in 2015) of tribunal judges are from non-barrister backgrounds, This varies by jurisdiction for both courts and tribunals, with judges in lower courts more likely to come from a non-barrister background.
  • *Of those judges who declared their ethnicity, the percentage who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic is 6% in courts (stable since 2015), and in tribunals 10% (up from 9% in 2015). This is higher for court judges under 40 – 9% (6% last year) and 16% for tribunal judges (15% last year).
  • *Of those judges who declared their ethnicity, the percentage of BAME judges in courts and tribunals under 50 years of age has stayed stable at 12% between 2015 and 2016, with 9% of court judges and 16% of tribunal judges aged under 50 this year.
  • *10% of magistrates declared themselves as BAME in 2016, compared with 8% in 2012.

* these are revised figures – please see footnote 1

Links to the judicial diversity figures for 2016 and the first progress report of the Judicial Diversity Committee of the Judges’ Council can be found below.


[1] The statistical analysis of Judicial Diversity trends have been revised by Government statisticians who carried out the work for the Judicial Office. Although the numbers of judicial office holders in each category was correct, the percentages for BAME have been revised. Please see the Statistics Bulletin Revision Notice dated 29 November 2016 for a fuller explanation. Before the revision, the statistics showed the percentage of BAME judges under 50 years of age had increased from 12% to 16%. They also showed the proportion of BAME tribunal judges staying the same at 9% and the BAME court judges falling from 6% to 5%.

[2] An announcement on the new Court of Appeal appointments is expected in later 2016

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