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Inequality in appointment of new Supreme Court Justice

Following the appointment of Sir John Dyson to the Supreme Court, the Equal Justices Initiative (EJI) today expressed disappointment at the missed opportunity to appoint a second woman to the Court.

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Baroness Brenda Hale remains the only woman ever to have been appointed to the Supreme Court and its predecessor, the House of Lords.

The UK lags well behind other jurisdictions in achieving gender parity on its highest court.  Four of the nine members of the Supreme Court of Canada, three of the seven judges of the High Court of Australia and two of the nine justices of the US Supreme Court are women. The UK Supreme Court also lacks the racial, ethnic and sexual diversity of these other top courts.

Further, the practice in the UK of appointing to the Supreme Court only from among the current members of the Court of Appeal means that the pool of candidates considered eligible for future appointments is not only very small, but very homogeneous.  Only three women currently sit on the Court of Appeal. Moreover, the High Court bench which constitutes the candidate pool for the Court of Appeal also contains few women.

“What kind of encouragement does this provide to younger women lawyers with aspirations to a judicial career?” asked EJI convenor, Kate Malleson, Professor of Law at Queen Mary, University of London.  “If the government is serious about judicial diversity, much more concerted measures are required, such as the adoption of targets, and appointment of qualified candidates directly from the legal profession and academia.”

The Equal Justices Initiative (EJI) was established in 2009 to promote the equal participation of men and women in the judiciary in England and Wales by 2015. The EJI serves as a forum for bringing together academics, practitioners, judges and policy-makers to work towards gender parity on the bench. For more information visit: