Dionne_Alveranga_phEquality and diversity in the judiciary received a boost last month when the JAC (Judicial Appointments Committee) published its official statistics for selection exercises completed between April and September 2013. The report showed that for the first time ever, women made up 52% of the total successful applications recommended for judicial appointment.

The result came following steady rises in the number of successful female candidates in previous periods, with the overall proportion of women recommended between April 2009 & September 2011 being 38%-42% and rising to 48%-49% between October 2011 and March 2013.

It is thought that the increase in female recommended candidates for this period can be attributed to the results of two non-legal exercises: Fee-paid Disability Member of the First-tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber, where women made up 72% of the recommendations and Fee-paid Specialist Lay Member of the First-tier Tribunal, Health Education and Social Care Chamber (Mental Health), where women made up 63% of recommendations.

Across all 17 selection exercises 280 women have been recommended in total, as against 233 men (30 of those recommended declined to identify their gender). Women also made up 54% of total applicants.

Christopher Stevens, Chairman of JAC, said of the results:

“The statistics continue to highlight the success of women, with the proportion recommended in individual selection exercises often being higher than the percentage of applicants or shortlisted candidates who were women.”

However, whilst the appointment of women is on the rise, the statistics for candidates from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have not shown any significant improvement on previous periods. Candidates from BAME backgrounds made up 10% of those recommended, which in some areas was a reduction on the previous period. Christopher Stevens continued:

“While there were some successes for BAME candidates, the overall performance was disappointing. In a number of cases this is due to BAME candidates having fewer years’ post-qualification experience compared with other groups. Further work is being done. All candidates are encouraged to look at the skills and experience required for judicial posts. Selections are made on merit.”

There were also positive results for candidates with a disability, who made up 16% of recommended applicants. The proportion of recommended candidates with a disability in previous periods has ranged between 2% – 8% and this dramatic increase reflects the large number of disabled candidates who applied for the post of Fee-paid Disability Member of the First-tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber. Excluding this post, the number of recommended candidates with a disability remained within the normal range at 6%.