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Durham University News

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Diverse judiciary crucial to improving the quality of decision-making in the courts

(27 March 2012)

A diverse judiciary would be more representative and better positioned to dispense justice, according to a Durham University law expert.

Dr Erika Rackley was commenting on The House of Lords' Constitution Committee's report on Judicial Appointments, published today, which said that a more diverse judiciary in England and Wales would improve public trust and confidence in the justice system.

The Report referenced 'The Feminist Judgments Project' lead by Dr Rackley and Professor Clare McGlynn of Durham Law School, Durham University, and Professor Rosemary Hunter of Kent Law School, the University of Kent, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Dr Rackley, a Senior Lecturer in Law, said: "A diverse judiciary is, all other things being equal, a better judiciary. It is better not because it is more representative and democratically legitimate, but because it is better positioned to do the job assigned to it - to do justice.

"A judiciary is stronger, and the justice dispensed better, where its decision-making is informed by a wider array of perspectives and experiences."

The committee's report concluded that no fundamental changes should be made to the judicial appointments process. However, it made a number of more limited recommendations to improve diversity.

These include the imposition of non-mandatory targets if there has been no significant increase in the numbers of women and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) judicial appointments in five years' time.

Dr Rackley said: "Why wait for another five years? There should be clear and measureable targets at all stages and levels of the appointments process.

"The imposition of targets for the Judicial Appointments Commission to follow would be an indication of a clear and determined political commitment to a more diverse judiciary."

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