23 July 2021Publish date: 23/07/2021
The Judicial Review and Courts Bill was introduced on Wednesday to Parliament, with the Government claiming it would "equip judges with the tools to give more tailored solutions in judicial review cases"; but should we be happy? It depends upon how you look at it. Certainly, some of the jaw dropping suggestions within the consultation appear to have gone away, but there is an undercurrent toward weakening accountability, with commentators arguing a fettering of judges decision making following the introduction of a presumptive clause "a court must suspend a quashing order or limit its retrospective effect "unless it sees good reason not to do so" (Clause 9 of new section 29A of the 1981 Act). If you want to get to the heart of the bill, take a look at Joshua Rozenberg QC blog.
In other news, the Law Society reports that just 1% of England and Wales's judiciary is Black – a figure that hasn't shifted since 2014 despite an increasingly diverse pool of applicants, according to official figures released this week. Across all appointment rounds for legal judicial positions in 2018 to 2021, Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates together constituted 23% of applications but only 12% of recommendations for appointment – a significantly lower rate compared to White candidates in this period. This sits alongside an article by the Law Gazette that the 'District judge recruitment crisis could take years to fix'. This might be just me, but the one, might just be fixed by the other. That and a deeper understanding of why these discrepancies still exist, together with urgent action to address them.
Thank you to everyone who attended our Monitoring Officers Conference last week and those who made our follow up National Lead meeting yesterday with Bevan Brittan. If you missed out on officer and member attendance in person and a number of other virtual meeting delegation queries then head to our SAA page and watch the session on demand.
And thank you also to all those who attended our constitution clinics this morning supported by the CfGS, to give monitoring officers and others an opportunity to share their experiences and identify potential solutions and to begin the process of developing a source of good examples of well drafted constitutions & options for clauses which can be accessed via the LLG website. If you couldn't attend but would like to be involved with our work moving forward, please do get in touch.
Have a lovely weekend.
Head of Public Affairs