The UK judiciary will receive a 2% across-the-board salary hike, the highest raise for the judges in a decade, according to the Daily Mail. Judges in certain courts may receive a larger raise if the Ministry of Justice follows the latest recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB).
The SSRB says recruitment problems were principally occuring because conditions of service for a judge had become ‘much less attractive’ to potential applicants. Changes to tax and pensions meant the total net remuneration for a new High Court judge is worth £80,000 less than it was 10 years ago, £49,000 less for a circuit judge, and £29,000 less for a district judge.
The report states that those who join the judiciary are motivated by a challenging job and providing a valuable public service: ‘The problem is that potential judges from the senior ranks of the legal profession are not applying in sufficient numbers. This situation requires urgent and effective intervention. It is generally accepted that the public sector cannot match the rewards for a top QC or solicitor. However, the judicial role needs to be made more attractive in order to recruit high quality legal professionals as judges.’
The SSRB recommends that High Court judges should be paid £240,000 (a 32% increase), £165,000 for circuit judges (a 22% increase) and £117,000 for district judges (an 8% increase).
Gauke said the government will ‘carefully consider’ the SSRB’s recommendations ‘and respond in due course’. Until then, the recruitment and retention allowance for High Court judges will remain.
The Criminal Bar Association in the United Kingdom has offered tentative support for placing cameras in the courtroom, in part as a means to tamp down “aggressive” behavior by barristers. The organization added that any introduction of cameras must be done carefully so as to shield (as necessary)the identity of victims.
The sentiments were echoed by the Transparency Project, a group which campaigns to improve the clarity of family courts. The group also noted its skepticism that courtroom cameras would control aggressive lawyering.
Protecting the identities of witnesses, victims, and jurors has long been a sticking point for the introduction of courtroom cameras. But these issues have exist–and would continue to exist–in any open court setting. As the recent ugliness surrounding the Manafort trial has shown, judges are up to the task of protecting the identities of jurors and witnesses as needed on a case-by-case basis.
Lord Kakkar, Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), announced a new “forward programme” for judicial recruitment over the next five years. The programme “will enable aspiring judges to identify ‘clear pathways’ to office and help candidates decide which roles to apply for and when,” according to a news story in the Law Society Gazette.
“No longer will candidates have to decide whether to run the risk or not of applying for a Recorder exercise when they don’t feel quite ready, just in case there is not another one for a few years,” [Lord Kakkar] said. “[This will] allow candidates to plan for how to prepare for future applications by, for example, seeking mentoring or observing judicial work. It will also help the courts and tribunals with their resource planning of the recruitment exercises, and inform the sequencing of exercises to allow fee-paid appointees to gain sufficient sitting experience to become strong candidates in future salaried exercises.”
From Scottish Legal News:
Less than a month after a warning by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, that the English legal system was facing a ‘ticking time bomb’ in its failure to recruit judges, Scottish Legal News can reveal that Scotland too is facing such a crisis with top quality candidates spurning elevation to the bench.
Our enquiries among leading QCs found that most had no appetite to become judges citing hostile media coverage, lack of respect for the judiciary, relatively modest pay and pension packages, a backlog of distressing child sex abuse cases and concerns over judicial independence as well as the isolation and strenuous work load.
When incentives to enter a profession drop, the number of people seeking that profession drop as well.
Following a surge of acid-throwing attacks across the United Kingdom, courts across England and Wales are asking visitors to take a sip from any bottles they bring into the courthouse. There are already reports of long security lines at one courthouse that has implemented the new policy.
The Times of London reports that the United Kingdom’s Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) will review the pay and working conditions for the country’s judges, in light of ongoing difficulties in recruiting qualified judicial candidates. The Times explains:
A judicial attitudes survey has found low morale among existing judges because of the erosion of their pay levels, and in particular their pension, increased administrative workload and poor working conditions.
The review, announced yesterday, will look at three areas: the judicial salary structure and whether this can be simplified; the way in which judicial leadership should be rewarded and incentivised, and judicial recruitment, retention and motivation.
The study findings are expected to be released in June 2018.
At the Faculty Lounge, Steve Lubet has a highly entertaining post about the world of the British law clerk — “a combination major domo, operations manager, and bill collector, whose function bears no resemblance to legal or judicial clerks in the United States.” The post, and the longer article to which it links, are both well worth the read.