Quotas may be used to improve diversity of judiciary

Quotas for female and ethnic minority judges may be brought in to improve diversity across the judiciary, a government adviser has claimed.

Baroness Julia Neuberger, a Liberal Democrat peer, has been appointed by the government to chair a panel of advisers to suggest ways to speed up the appointment of non-white, non-male judges.

She said her aim was to remove “blockages” faced by applicants for judicial posts to make the positions more representative of society.

“If you said to me would my first instinct be to go for quotas, I would say no. But that doesn’t mean we won’t look at it,” Baroness Neuberger told newspapers. “Nothing is off the agenda and I am looking at practical things.”

Of the 110 high court judges in England and Wales, 16 are women and just three are from an ethnic minority group. Less than a fifth of circuit and district judges are women and less than one in 20 are from an ethnic minority.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: “We need to take a broad look at the opportunities and barriers – perceived and real – to reaching high judicial office. Becoming a judge must be, and must be seen to be, open to all with the right skills and qualities.”

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