NI: UK Supreme Court Justice calls gender quotas ‘corrosive’

Lord Hodge

A justice of the UK Supreme Court has described quotas as “corrosive”.

Lord Hodge told a panel discussion on gender balance in the legal profession that he “did not support” positive discrimination, the Law Society Gazette reports.

He said: “I would be very much in favour of doing whatever one can to create opportunities and create genuine equality of opportunity for women and to rise in the profession. If you expand the pool of talent you get the best.”

He described the pace of change within the legal profession as “remarkable”.

The judge added: “Most of the bench will change in the next five years.

“I would be astonished if the complexion of the court in my final few years was not different from what it is now.”

“I think we can deliver change without going down the route of quotas. I think quotas can be corrosive for the individuals appointed as well as those excluded.”

The discussion was organised as part of a conference for the First 100 Years project, which looks at how women have fared in the profession since 1919, when the Sex Disqualification (removal) Act came into force, allowing women to practise as lawyers.

Other dissenting voices included those of Dan Fitz, group general counsel at BT, who said that while he was “all for setting targets”, he was “not sure Parliament should be doing it”.

He added: “If you accept that everyone is equal before the law, creating a law saying some are more equal than others rankles, even for a defined period of time.”

Incoming chair of the Magistrates Association, Malcolm Richardson, said he was unconvinced the end would justify the means when it came to quotas.

He also noted 52 per cent of magistrates are women.

Share icon
Share this article: