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Judiciary in England and Wales


Judiciary is a collective reference to the judges and their authority in a country. In England and Wales, the system consists of judges and commissions, and individuals responsible for ensuring that the process of appointing a judge is transparent. This newsletter article aims to explain to the students the components of the judiciary and their suitability, considering the challenges of this century.

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Composition of the Judiciary

The long history of the judiciary of both England and Wales has affected the structure and responsibilities of the different elements of this system. The judiciary system on these territories has existed for over nine hundred years.[1] This long existence means that there are well-established rules and traditions that may be barriers in the 21st century. However, the Parliament has introduced several reforms aimed at transforming this system into a more modern one.

Judicial independence is a pivotal point of any judiciary. The nature of the judiciary has changed recently since the Consitutituional Reform Act of 2005 modified several positions. One example of this is the role of the Lord Chancellor.[2] Under this law, government ministers are banned from trying to influence the judges and their decisions in any way. Next, the position of Lord Chancellor was transformed into the President of the Courts of England and Wales. This position is among the key roles within the judiciary system of England.

The President of the Courts of England and Wales is a core figure within this system. The responsibilities in this position include training of judges, their guidance, and support. Moreover, the President of Courts represent the judiciary system before Parliament. Notably, this is only a title given to the Lord Chief Justice, who is now in charge of managing the courts and making managerial decisions.

The Judicial Appointment Commission is in charge of reviewing the candidates that later will be appointed as judges. This commission selects candidates and recommends them to the Secretary of State for Justice. The core values of this commission are independence and adherence to the standards of merit, which are the main criteria of selection. Additionally, this commission strives to ensure that the selection is “modern, open and transparent.” Hence, the Judicial Appointment Commission is an essential element of this system that allows for a transparent and coherent selection of judges.

Finally, an individual appointed as Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman is overseeing the courts and conducting investigations into the appointment process. This position allows for additional transparency of the appointment system because the Ombudsman can investigate complaints and make recommendations about the appointees. The Constitutional Reform Act regulates the types of complaints and the scope of responsibility of the Ombudsman.

Tribunals as a distinct form of a court were established relatively recently. The 2008 Tribunals, Courts, and Enforcement Act legally outlined the role of these courts when they were first established in 2006. The Tribunal is divided into First and Upper Tier, each part consisting of different chambers. Although formally, tribunals existed before, these were small structures not connected with one another, while the reform created a unified system of tribunals and absorbed the 20 smaller tribunals.

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Lord Chief Justice is perhaps the most crucial figure who governs this system. For instance, the Lord is “responsible for some 400 statutory functions.” Before the 2005 reform, Lord Chancellor was responsible for these functions. Some examples of these responsibilities include deciding the cases that judges will hear or determining where these judges will sit. Next, the Judicial Executive Board helps manage executive decisions that the Lord Chief Justice makes. Judges Councill represents the judiciary of the entire country.

The judicial system in both England and Wales was transformed to respond to the challenges and issues of the 21 century. As a result, it is more structures and more transparency are guaranteed through the division of accountability and the ability to cross-check appointments and complaints by the Ombudsman. Also, this issue of independence has also been addressed through the reform by changing the scope of responsibilities for certain positions, most important by modifying the role of the Lord Chancellor. The Supreme Court is an independent institution, which replaced the practice of using the House of Lords as the principal judicial power. The separation of this court and the Parliament adds to the independence of the judges.

Suitability for the 21st Century

The 21 century presents many challenges regarding the exercise of the court’s power and freedoms. The main issues can be categorized into three categories: social changes, productivity, and executive powers’ interventions. From this, one can conclude that judiciary independence is of utmost importance that should help the judges escape pressure from the legislative powers or representatives of executive powers and function independently. Hence, the judiciary of the 21-century faces challenges that are different from those it faced last century. However, considering the reforms that separated the courts, mainly the Supreme Court from the Parliament, the current system is created with an understanding that the courts have to be independent.

The judiciary system has been transformed recently to respond to the challenges of the 21st century. The Constitutional Reform Act of 2005 legally outlined the independence of judges. This was an essential step in ensuring that this challenge is addressed – now, the process of selecting, appointing, and investigating complaints about judges is more transparent. However, the issue of responsibility to the newly emerged social problems remains unaddressed within the current system. The social changes of the 21 century require the judicial system to adapt in accordance with an understanding that judiciaries have an immense influence on the norms and social values.


In summary, the judiciary system of England and Wales has existed for over nine hundred years. However, in 2005 it was reformed with many responsibilities being transferred to the President of Courts and Lord Chief Justice. Besides, the process of appointing judges has become more transparent and suitable for the 21st century. Despite this, some other challenges remain to be an issue with the current system.

Reference list

  1. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, ‘Constitutional reform’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary n.d.). Web.
  2. ‘Constitutional reform’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary n.d.). Web.
  3. ‘Constitutional reform’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary n.d.). Web.
  4. ‘Constitutional reform’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary n.d.). Web.
  5. ‘Constitutional reform’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary n.d.). Web.
  6. ‘Constitutional reform’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary n.d.). Web.
  7. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, ‘Structure of the courts & tribunal system’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, n.d.). Web.
  8. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, ‘How the judiciary is governed’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, n.d.). Web.
  9. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, ‘The Supreme Court’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, n.d.). Web.
  10. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, ‘Constitutional reform’, (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary n.d.). Web.

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