Monday, May 08, 2006

Me Jealous? Never!

The Judicial Salary Structure is now available on the DCA website (figures at 1 Nov. 2006).

Examples are:

Lord Chief Justice: £225,000
Lords Justices of Appeal: £164,400
High Court Judges: £162,000
Circuit Judges: £120,300
Senior District Judge (aka Chief Magistrate) £129,900
District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) £96,500
Justices of the Peace: Unpaid

This isn't a grumble or an appeal to be paid. I knew the terms when I applied for the job, and to move towards paying JPs would change the character of the bench, not for the better.

I list these just to show how modest the pay of our top judges is, both by comparison with executives in private industry, and especially with lawyers in private practice.

For a senior QC to give up practice and go on to the Bench may involve a salary cut of up to 70%. Of course they won't starve, but nevertheless they aren't in it for the money.


I have been taken to task for seeming to suggest that a hundred grand a year isn't a lot of money. Of course it is, given a national average for those in work nearer to £24,000. But read what I said again. Pay for senior executives in business has soared to enormous levels in recent years, and a million-plus is now commonplace in the boardroom. Senior barristers and solicitors, who are the cadre from which many judges are appointed commonly earn many hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. Those who instruct and pay them presumably think that they are worth it. Those who join the Bench will receive much satisfaction, and even the chance of a handle to their name, but the money will still be way below what they could get elsewhere.

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