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John Vander Luit

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Lord Chief Justice 'immensely concerned' over low judicial morale

Lord Chief Justice 'immensely concerned' over low judicial morale


Failure to address pay and pension issues will have 'a serious impact', says Lord Thomas

Failure to rectify concerns over judicial pay and pensions will have a 'serious impact on morale and recruitment', the Lord Chief Justice has warned.

In his final report before retiring, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said the Judicial Executive Board was 'immensely concerned' about complaints around working conditions, the volume of work, and pay and pensions and 'is doing all it can to address the issues'.

The Lord Chief Justice's 40-page annual report highlighted judicial welfare and morale, after the judicial attitude survey revealed widespread dissatisfaction among salaried judges in February.

Pointing to a major review by the Senior Salaries Review Body, Lord Thomas said a report covering judicial salary structure, reward and incentives for leadership and pay-related retention and motivation would be delivered to the Treasury by June 2018.

An Advice and Evidence Group comprising courts and tribunals judges is feeding into the review, while a wider consultation with judicial associations and other stakeholders is also being tabled.

'Any failure to address the problems of pay and pensions will have a serious impact on morale and on recruitment,' Lord Thomas said.

Modernisation and Brexit

In his final year in office, Lord Thomas continued to extol the virtues of the £1bn Courts and Tribunals Modernisation Programme.

He flagged the rapid roll out of the Digital Case System beyond just CPS prosecutions and said: 'Many trials proceed without paper'.

Meanwhile, work to create a single online process across civil, family, and tribunal cases is underway.

Remarking on the start of negotiations to exit the EU, Lord Thomas said it was 'one of the most complex and difficult issues our country has faced in peacetime'.

He added: 'The judiciary has helped, and will help, where it can to ensure that the executive and parliament are aware of the practical implications for the courts and for legal services as negotiations continue with the EU and the Bill and other legislation passes through parliament'.

Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, reporter