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Employment judge gives talk on diversity in the judiciary to Bradford School of Law students

Published: Fri 18 Mar 2016
Employment judge gives talk on diversity in the judiciary to Bradford School of Law students

The School of Law welcomed an employment tribunal judge as guest speaker.

Judge David Jones, who sits at the employment tribunal in Leeds, was invited to present the talk on Diversity in the Judiciary to first year students on the Law, Business Studies and Law and Forensics undergraduate degree programmes.

Judge David Jones was formerly a barrister and Head of Chambers at Broadway House Chambers in Bradford. He was appointed as a diversity and community relations judge in July 2015.

He addressed the students about the measures being implemented in recent years to help improve diversity in the judiciary, highlighting the protected characteristics laid out in the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation) and its aim to tackle discrimination.

Some of the students were delighted to learn that Judge David Jones, who was state-educated in Bradford, was a former pupil at their school.

He explained that appointments to the judiciary are made purely on merit, and consequently there can be no recourse to positive discrimination, but in the event of a ‘tie-break’, where two candidates are found to have the same qualifications and experience, the candidate from the less represented background can be favoured. He said that the ‘tie-break’ system has been used on a number of occasions recently to help recruit members of minority groups. He also explained that minority groups are far better represented in the tribunal judiciary than in the civil and criminal courts, and there is an attempt to transfer tribunal judges across to the courts, to improve diversity there.

He highlighted the opinions of Baroness Neuberger, formerly chairman of the Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity, from 2010-11, who favours a career hierarchy for the judiciary, as for other professions, with promotion through the ranks.

There are now a number of fee-paid, part-time judges in the profession, as opposed to full-time salaried judges, and this has really helped women in particular to a career in the judiciary.

Helen Trouille, Lecturer in Law, who organised the session, said: “We heard a few shocking stories of questions asked at interviews in decades gone by, which could not be put these days: for example interviewers asking very personal questions relating to background or sexual orientation.”

In addition to hearing what the judge had to say about improving diversity, the students were encouraged to express their feelings to him, and spoke of the difficulties facing female candidates, candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds, and those not educated at state schools, or even in the United Kingdom.

Mrs Trouille said: “The students spoke of the need to network if they wish to succeed, and of the difficulty of doing this when you lack the contacts which other candidates may have; and the fact that the costs of the Legal Practice Course and the Bar Professional Training Course are so high it can make a legal career unattainable from the very start.

“Students would like to see members of minority groups who have succeeded in their career path sharing information about their success both inside and outside the profession: guidance for those trying to qualify, and, for those inside the profession, information on the importance of equal opportunities for everyone.

"The Law School would like to thank Judge David Jones for giving his time to speak to students, and for his willingness to listen to their comments."

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