The selection process for High Court judges involve, the Lord Chancellor's department gathering information about potential candidates over a period of time, by making informal inquiries from leading barristers and judges. This is known as the "secret soundings system! At the moment advertisements are being placed for junior judges and High Court judges. However, before this, there were no advertisements for judicial office. You simply had to wait to be invited to the post.
To be appointed to the House of Lords (HoL), you must have either held high judicial office for two years or have a right of audience in the High Courts; most will have been judges in the Court of Appeal (CoA). If you want to be a judge in the CoA, you must have had either experience as a judge in the High Court or a right of audience in the High court for ten years. To be a High court judge, it is essential to have had a right of audience for ten years in the High court. Circuit judges, recorders or assistance recorders are appointed from anyone who has had rights of audience in the Crown court or county court for ten years.
The Lord Chancellor or (LC), the Law Lords and the Lord Justices of Appeal are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister who is advised by Lord Chancellor. The Queen, on the advice of the Lord Chancellor appoints High court judges, circuit judges and recorders. New judges traditionally, received little training for their role, limited to a brief training period organized by the Judicial Studies Board. Lord Justice Waller, a CoA judge, is responsible for judges training as chairman of the judicial studies board (JSB).
The children's act 1989 has meant that social workers, physiatrists and pediatricians have shared their expertise with new judges. Concern about the perception of judges as racist has led to training to race issues. There is new guidance for all judges on equal treatment issues, to include for the first time disability, gender and sexual orientation. Reforms to the civil justice system and the human rights act 1998 have also led to special training. b) Explain and comment on the importance of judicial independence.
Great importance is attached to the idea that judges should be independent. They should be independent of pressure from the government and political groups and therefore should be able to decide cases impartially. The 18th century French political writer, Montesquieu put forward a doctrine known as separation of powers. The state that the only way to safe guard individual liberty is to ensure that the power of the state is divided between three separate and independent arms. They are the judiciary; the legislature who make the laws; and the executive, the government.
Each arm is then checked and balanced by the other two, so that none becomes to powerful. If all the power were in hands of one group, the result would be tyranny/dictatorship. The doctrine is based on the system that Montesquieu saw whilst in England, however this system doesn't apply to our current system. The executive (government) dominates the legislature (parliament) and the executive also appoints the judiciary. Under the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, parliament can make any law it wishes and the courts have to enforce that law.
Judges in our system are made as independent as possible by convention judges do not take part in politics, and they do not allow their political sympathy to affect the judgment. A judge cannot, by statute become an MP, though some judges are appointed after having had political experience e. g. lord Fraser was a candidate fro the parliament before becoming a judge in Scotland and later became a law lord. Judges, who are made peers in order to sit in the HoL in a judicial capacity, do not, by convention take part in political matters.
Peers who aren't judges do not attend legal hearings of the HoL as judges. The house of commons (HoC) don't attack judges on a personal bases, instead the criticize the legal principle lay down in a case if it needs to be done. Security of tenure means that judges the judges cannot be removed by the other arms i. e. the jobs are safe. Most of the judges are white, middle class, middle aged, oxford and Cambridge graduates. Their opinions therefore can be biased against people not from the same background.
This is why judges are now being trained as described earlier because of the changes in society make up and new way of thinking. Government biased is one of the problems with judicial independence. Judges can make decisions that defend the interest of the government of the day. In R v Ponting, a civil servant was accused of leaking documents related to the sinking of the General Belgrano during the Falklands war. Pontings defense was that he had acted in the interest of the state. The judge described it as "interest of the government" to the jury.
The judiciary has also been accused of bias towards the interest of the right wing of politics. In Bromley v GLC, the Labour run GLC had won an election on a promise to cut bus and tube fares by 25%. To do this there would have to be an increase in rates and Conservative Bromley challenged the right to do this. The HoL that the GLC should run the transport system according to "ordinary business principle". Helena Kennedy argues that the attitude of many judges to women is out dated and some times prejudice. This, especially in cases involving sexual offences such as rape.
To an extent judges are independent such as from matters involving politics, however as above they are not always truly independent as they should be. Judges can be influences by the government for example in certain cases. Reforms can be made to the judiciary, especially to judicial appointments. Suggestions have been made to broaden the social, racial and gender base of the judiciary. The "secret soundings system" should also become more open. There has been a recommendation of a Judicial Appointments Commission, but the LC has said this is "not a priority".