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English Legal System - Judicial Diversity

Autor:   •  November 26, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,141 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,345 Views

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If the judiciary is already neutral and independent does achieving diversity in the judiciary matter?

The cornerstone of a free and democratic constitutional order is an independent and neutral Judiciary, the judiciary therefore is a vital part of the legal system in Britain, they make decisions that profoundly affect peoples' lives, and it is the role that judicial diversity has to play in achieving the aim of neutrality and independence that I will discuss in this essay.

Lord Phillips defines independence in the sense that ‘a judge must be independent; personally independent, that is free of personal pressures and institutionally independent, that is free of pressure from the State' which can be implied to the judiciary as well. Further the notion of neutrality is, a judge being, as Erica Rackley stated, ‘a person stripped of "self" and re clothed with the magical attributes of "fairness", "impartiality", "disengagement" and "independence" The consultation paper Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary defines diversity as: "the presence among a group of individuals of a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, opinions, styles, perspectives, values and beliefs". These definitions give a foundation to understand the fundamental elements of the question at hand and my discussion on how the neutrality of the judiciary is not sound and judicial diversity does matter to improve the situation

The neutrality of the judiciary lies on weak ground and can and has been challenged and called into question on many occasions. Legal realists would argue that the law is subjective and each individual has their view on what is best for the ‘public interest' therefore rendering neutrality a mere ‘myth' as referred to by John Griffith. The poor state of judicial diversity with only 22.6% being represented by women one of the lowest figures in Europe and the percentage reducing towards the higher courts intensifies the problem as stated by Griffith, ‘that the senior judges in particular have, by reason of their legal education and their working life as practising barristers, ‘acquired a striking homogeneous collection of attitudes, beliefs, and principles, which to them represents the public interest'. The impartiality of the English judiciary is supported as argued by Lord Devlin that under the status quo of the judiciary ‘there is no denying the homogeneity of political outlooks on the part of the judges, but then the same is true of most other institutions in our society'.Additionally the judiciary is given such power and confidence as they judges arguing the law not their personal views or prejudices as Harris points out the statement, ‘according to the law, you are guilty' contrary to ‘in my opinion, you are guilty'.It is however clear that the neutrality of the judiciary needs to be

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