Ministry of Justice
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Return to legal practice
The convention that former judges cannot return to practice as barristers or solicitors will remain, following a government consultation.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw considered the arguments both for and against return to legal practice. In response to the consultation paper on what safeguards and conditions would be necessary to allow this, he is not persuaded that lifting the conventional prohibition would increase diversity of the judiciary.
A consultation paper invited suggestions as to how the judiciary in England and Wales might be made more reflective of today's society, while continuing to make judicial appointments based solely on merit.
Jack Straw said:
"The Government consulted widely, considering the arguments both for and against allowing former salaried judges to return to practice. I do not believe there is sufficient evidence that this would achieve a more diverse judiciary and that therefore the arguments against this change outweigh those for. This proposal will not therefore be implemented.
"Increasing the diversity of the judiciary is of great importance and I will continue working with Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips and the Judicial Appointments Commission on the jointly agreed Judicial Diversity Strategy published in May 2006 and the activity underway to support it."
Notes to Editors
1. A consultation paper, Increasing the Diversity of the Judiciary, was published in October 2004, and a summary of responses to this published in March 2005 at http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/judiciary/diversitycp25-04.htm
2. The Judicial Diversity Strategy was jointly agreed by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice and chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission and announced to Parliament by way of written Ministerial Statement on 17 May 2006 at http://www.dca.gov.uk/publications/reports_reviews/judicial_diversity_strat.pdf
3. The strategy has four strands, which seek to:
* Promote judicial service and widen the range of people eligible to apply for judicial office
* Encourage a wider range of applicants. To ensure the widest possible choice of candidates for selection
* Promote diversity through fair and open processes for selection to judicial office solely on merit
* Ensure that the culture and working environment for judicial office holders encourages and supports a diverse judiciary and increases understanding of the communities served
4. The consultation paper 'Return to Practice, Conditions and Safeguards' was published in September 2006, with consultation closing in December 2006 http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/rpractice/cp1506.htm
5. A summary of the responses received has been published today at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/closedconsultations.htm
6. The proposal would have required a change of judicial terms and conditions which, whilst continuing to be a matter for the Lord Chancellor, is an area on which he would consult the Lord Chief Justice, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 arrangements.