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UK’s High Court judge pay rises

Posted by: Laurence Simons 22/01/16

The UK’s Ministry of Justice has just announced that its High Court judges will be enjoying a 3% rise in their annual salaries in 2017. Citing existing problems with recruitment and retention,
representatives have argued that being able to offer better pay and benefits packages is crucial to
ensuring the top judicial talent is filling up each round of appointments.

Problems began a while ago and, according to the 2015 Judicial Attitude Survey, 83% of High Court
judges felt last year that their pay and pension entitlements ‘did not adequately reflect the work
that they did’. On top of this, one place remained unfilled in the last round of appointments and
several high court judges are now leaving before the age of 65 each year despite legislation allowing
them to work until they turn 70.

Days after this information was published, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmigiedd, released
an annual report revealing that a large proportion of judges feel under-appreciated, and that civil
justice is becoming unaffordable. So, in reaction to this, annual salaries are being increased to
£183,328 in an effort to bring more of the best legal minds on board.

A representative from the Ministry of Justice commented: “We have had anecdotal evidence from
the judiciary that current pay levels are discouraging people from applying for high court
appointments and also that some existing high court judges are considering leaving the bench early
due to unsatisfactory pay and pension packages. This is supported by the findings of last year’s
judicial attitude survey, which showed worrying evidence of views amongst the higher judiciary. This
showed that 83% of high court judges considered that their pay and pension entitlement did not
adequately reflect the work they did.”

Here at Laurence Simons, we think that it’s likely that this initiative will be successful, and that for
many, appointment as a High Court judge will be back on the agenda in 2016.