New Zealand Law Society - UK judges don't feel valued by Government or media

UK judges don't feel valued by Government or media

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Just 2% of United Kingdom salaried judges feel valued by the UK Government, and 3% feel valued by the media, according to the results of the 2016 UK Judicial Attitude Survey for England and Wales courts and UK Tribunals.

The survey results were released on 7 February 2017, and it is the second attitude survey conducted among judges. The response rate was 99% of all judges - 1580 out of a total of 1602. The judges were asked 50 questions in the survey, which ran from 21 June to 22 July 2016.

Judges in the more senior judicial posts (which include those most likely to have working contact with government officials) were more likely to feel valued by the government than judges in other judicial posts.

A higher 43% of judges felt valued by the public, with judges feeling most valued by their judicial colleagues at court (84%), court staff (77%), the legal profession (62%), and parties in cases before them (62%).

Almost all judges - 97% - feel they provide an important service to society and 90% said they have a strong personal attachment to being a member of the judiciary.

Working conditions

Things were less rosy with the questions about working conditions, as 76% of judges felt they have experienced a deterioriation in their working conditions since the first survey in 2014. However, fewer judges said they had experienced as strong a deterioration over the last two years as they experienced in the period 2009 to 2014.

When asked to rate specific working conditions, none were rated as Good or Excellent by a majority. A high 64% said the morale of court staff was Poor, 43% said the maintenance of their building was Poor, 42% said the amount of administrative support was Poor, and 31% said the physical quality of the building as a whole was Poor.

When asked about safety concerns, 51% of judges said they have concerns for their personal safety while in court, 37% had concerns for their safety outside court, and 15% had concerns related to social media.

Salary and pensions

Most - 78% - judges said they had had a loss of net earnings over the last two years, and 62% said the change in pensions had affected them personally. And 74% felt that their pay and pension entitlement combined did not adequately reflect the work they had done and will do before retirement.

A narrow majority (51%) of judges felt that the amount of out of hours work required to do their job was affecting them. This was well up on the 2014 result of 29%.

Personal development

Asked if they were satisfied with the challenge of their job, 77% said they were, with 73% satisfied with the variety of their work.

However, 45% of judges said they were dissatisfied with the sense of achievement they got from their job.

Change in the judiciary

Most of the judges (90%) felt their job had changed since they were first appointed in ways that affect them.

A majority were most concerned by the following changes (in order of concern): staff reductions, judicial morale, increase in litigants in person, fiscal constraints, stressful working conditions, ability to attract the best people in the judiciary, and loss of judicial independence.

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