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Judicial diversity: First female senior presiding judge appointed

The senior judiciary has gone further towards increasing diversity in its ranks as it names its first female senior presiding judge (SPJ) in the latest round of appointments.

Lady Justice Macur will become the first woman to take up the role since it was created in 1983. Justice Macur will take up the seat on 1 January 2018 up till 31 December 2019, before which she will be deputy SPJ from 1 January 2016.

Meanwhile, Justice Fulford has been named deputy SPJ which went into effect at the beginning of this year, and will become the SPJ for England and Wales from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017. Justice Fulford will succeed current SPJ Justice Gross who took up the office on 1 January 2013, while other former incumbents have included Brian Leveson and John Goldring.

By the time Justice Macur’s SPJ post will go into effect, she will have succeeded nine male appointments. She was appointed to the Court of Appeal in July 2013, when a total of three female judges were promoted in a total round of ten.

Before this, Justice Macur was named a judge of the High Court of Justice in the Family Division in October 2005, and appointed presiding judge on the Midland Circuit from 2007 to 2011.

The SPJ sits on the board of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and, over the next five years, will help undertake its reform programme. Day-to-day the role involves overseeing the work of presiding judges on each circuit in England and Wales, and includes responsibility for distributing court work and being a general point of liaison between judiciary, courts and tribunals, and government departments.

While the judiciary is still far from reaching diversity goals and creating greater opportunities for females, especially those from minority backgrounds, as of October last year, eight out of 38, or 21% of judges in the Court of Appeal are women, while 21% judges in the High Court, or 21 out of a total 108. The number of female Circuit Judges is also gradually increasing from 121 in 2013 to 131 in April 2014 and currently stands at 137.