The Law Society of England and Wales has again called for reform of the way High Court judges are appointed in England and Wales.
According to the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales, only two solicitors were appointed in the 2023 round of appointments for deputy High Court judges announced today (25 January).
This was the lowest total in three years.
The competition, which was run by the Judicial Appointments Commission, saw a total of 29 appointees.
Two solicitors appointed
The two solicitor appointees were the former co-head of international arbitration and litigation at US law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Karyl Nairn KC, who retired from that firm in 2022.
Nairn is also current vice president of both the London Court of International Arbitration, and the ICC’s International Court of Arbitration.
Saira Salimi, speaker’s counsel at the House of Commons, was also appointed. Salimi, who is head of the House of Commons legal team, qualified at City firm Withers.
One former solicitor, Anneli Howard KC of Monckton Chambers, was appointed. Howard worked briefly as a litigation solicitor at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before being called to the bar in 2022.
Of the 40 appointments in 2021, seven were solicitors. All but one were from City firms such as Allen & Overy, Mishcon de Reya and Clifford Chance.
A Law Society spokesperson told the Gazette: “The fact that fewer than one in ten judicial appointments came from a non-barrister background serves as a reminder that the selection process needs to be reformed to remove barriers that continue to hold back people from underrepresented groups.
“If the judiciary is to truly reflect our modern and diverse society, outdated practices such as statutory consultation need to be scrapped, and the selection process needs to appropriately weigh the experience, skills and qualifications of solicitors.”
The appointments are for six years, to January 2029.