Judge-making in Crisis

In The Times today, Frances Gibb reports that Jack Straw has blocked the appointment of Lord Justice Wall as president of the High Court family division. This ties in with my own report a month ago that the Judicial Appointments Commission was having difficulties in filling the post.

Sir Mark Potter is determined to retire as president at the end of this month, come what may. Because the appointments commission has failed to produce a successor, there will be little or no overlap period. Family justice will suffer as a result.

And when are we going to get a new Justice of the Supreme Court? This month, it is claimed. I suspect that the appointment is sitting on Gordon Brown’s desk, waiting for a decision from a notoriously indecisive prime minister.

The court will have been an extra member down for two whole terms, although it is fair to say that this has not, apparently, led to many delays: the “docket” is fairly light.

Even so, our whole judicial appointments system is threatened by these failures.

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