After coming under criticism for the amount that it cost the taxpayer, the expense of the Supreme Court has once again been highlighted.  In an article in The Times last week, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers was listed as one of the 194 people in the public sector earning more than Gordon Brown.

The article listed the President of the Supreme Court as earning £214,165.  The Lord Chief Justice is the highest paid member of the judiciary in the United Kingdom with a salary of £239,845.  The salary of a Supreme Court justice is £206,857 per annum.

A member of the public commented that the high salaries are “symptomatic of rip off Britain“. With the average household income in the UK in 2007/8 being around £30,000 and unemployment increasing to 7.8 per cent between July and September 2009, it is easy to see why salaries such as this cause negative reactions.

However,  the salaries earned by the top judges are low when compared with those earned by others in the public sector (The Times also reports that the salaries of the chief executive of Royal Mail and the chief executive of Network Rail are £995,000 and £830,000 respectively).  They are also very much less than the earnings of leading members of the legal profession in the private sector.
It is interesting to note that the salaries of US judges are substantially lower than those in England (despite the higher level of overall salaries).  The salary of the Chief Justice of the United States is US$217,400 (£130,000) and the salary of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court is US$208,100 (£124,000).