Cumulative cuts to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) budget over the past decade, amounting to 40% in total, have had a profound impact on the UK’s publicly funded legal system. One corollary is that there are too few senior judges. First and foremost, this is because insufficient candidates of quality have applied to become a High Court judge.
‘There seems to be a continued problem with recruitment, not in terms of quality, but in terms of numbers,’ says former chair of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC. Recognised as a perennial problem by the government, a streamlined application process was introduced last year. But this has done little to help. Vacancies remain across all three divisions: Queen’s Bench (QBD), Family and Chancery.