It is a pleasure to be back at the Chancery Bar Association’s Annual Conference. And a great pleasure also to be allowed loose to say what I want, without the incisive guidance provided by Joshua Rozenberg when he interviewed me here last year.
Many of you will have heard me talk recently about (a) the inauguration of the Business & Property Courts, (b) blockchain, smart contracts and artificial intelligence, and (c) the importance of making sure that English law and UK jurisdiction stay at the forefront of the global dispute resolution firmament post Brexit. These and the other things I often talk about are very important to the legal business community. You might even describe them as my “hobby horses”, but if that were so, I want, at least for some of the time, to ride a different horse tonight.
This evening, I want to speak about something that is, I think, of increasing concern to the Bench and the Bar alike – and that is the issue of recruitment to the judiciary. I am not talking so much about the processes adopted by the Judicial Appointments Commission (“JAC”), though I will say something about that, but I am thinking more about the culture of judicial aspiration. I will also say something at the end about practice in the Business and Property Courts, but let me start with judicial appointment.