• Sunday, May 22, 2022

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Ethnic minority lawyers ‘less likely to become judges’

According to the UK’s ministry of justice, applicants from minority communities do less well than white candidates for the majority of selection tools. (iStock image)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

LAWYERS from ethnic minority groups are less likely to progress from bar to bench than their white counterparts, a new report of the UK’s ministry of justice said.

It found that ethnic minority applicants “do less well than white candidates for the majority of selection tools”.

They “did less well in the application process even after taking account of potential advantages such as an Oxbridge degree or being a barrister”, the findings, unveiled last week, said.

The report, reflecting slow progress on judicial diversity, comes amid calls for an investigation into the “discriminatory, unfair and unlawful” judicial appointment system.

According to the report, “across all selection tools, the success rate for black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates was lower than for white candidates… The greatest differential between black, Asian and minority ethnic and white candidates was seen for the paper sift and qualifying test stages, the JAC’s (Judicial Appointments Commission) two first-stage shortlisting tools”.

Selection figures of five years between 2015-15 to 2020-21 were taken into account for the study.

Oxbridge graduates and barristers are more likely to become judges than those who went to other universities and solicitors. However, the report did not assign any reason for the differential success rates.

Earlier this year, the Judicial Support Network, an independent non-political organisation founded by a crown court judge, had urged the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate “serious, serial and systemic” failings in the system to appoint and promote judges.

Judge Kaly Kaul, who leads the Network, feels that the watchdog lacks sufficient resources to investigate judicial appointments.

“The policies that are being currently promulgated in the name of diversity depend, for their success, on acceptance of structural and cultural discrimination in relation to race, gender, disability and background,” she told The Times.

According to Sam Mercer, the diversity head at the Bar Council, the report showed more should be done at the point of appointment.

Eastern Eye

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