Newsletter – December 2023

From the CEO

We believe that Costs Lawyers have an important role to play as independent gatekeepers in the justice system. Their deep knowledge of costs law and practice, combined with their qualifications and ethical duties, makes Costs Lawyers well-placed to adjudicate contentious costs matters. We are therefore working with the Ministry of Justice to explore whether Costs Lawyers could be made eligible for judicial appointment.

Traditionally, it has been barristers and (to a lesser extent) solicitors that have filled judicial vacancies. In 2007, chartered legal executives were made eligible for certain judicial roles and, in June this year, their eligibility was expanded further to allow them to become recorders and Upper Tribunal judges. Other types of lawyers, such as patent and trademark attorneys, are eligible for specific judicial roles aligned with their unique skills.

Costs Lawyers, too, have unique expertise that could be valuable to the justice system, and not just in specialist roles but across a wide range of judicial appointments. Opening up judicial eligibility would also provide new career routes for Costs Lawyers and bolster their independence and standing within the wider legal profession.

We believe this is the right time to press for change. A key objective amongst the bodies responsible for judicial appointments is to improve diversity across the judiciary, ensuring that the justice system meets the needs of the diverse society that it serves. Costs Lawyers are a diverse profession, displaying greater diversity than (for example) the solicitor profession across almost every characteristic that we measure. So enabling Costs Lawyers to apply for judicial office would further the government’s objective of increasing judicial diversity, as well as fulfilling the CLSB’s statutory objective under the Legal Services Act of promoting a strong, effective and diverse legal profession.

We are currently gathering evidence of the public benefits that eligibility would bring. As part of this, we need to demonstrate that Costs Lawyers would be interested in judicial appointments if they became eligible.

We are seeking your views on these issues through a short survey which will be open until 12 January 2024. Whether or not you are personally interested in judicial appointment now or in the future, we welcome your views on the value that Costs Lawyers could bring to judicial office.

Kate Wellington


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