England: ‘Justice on the cheap’ leads to shortage of judges crisis
A record number of trials in England and Wales have been delayed because of an inability to find judges.
Analysis by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) and The Independent found that 51 trials were delayed on this basis between April and June 2023 — more than double the average in the five years leading up to the pandemic.
Of these 51 trials which were delayed at short notice, 10 were rape trials and a further 19 involved violent crimes.
There are now fewer judges in the jurisdiction than at the start of the 2010s, despite the government raising the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 in 2021.
Commenting on the figures, Sir Bob Neill, chair of Westminster’s justice committee, said: “We’ve tried to do criminal justice on the cheap, and you can’t – and that’s why the chickens are coming home to roost.”
Nick Emmerson, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, added: “The lack of judges and lawyers has been caused by years of neglect of the criminal justice system, and can’t be rectified overnight.”