Judges most concerned with declining respect from government and media

Judges in Scotland are most concerned with the loss of respect for the judiciary by the government and attacks on it by the media, while a significant proportion is even considering leaving the bench in the next five years, a new survey has revealed.

The 2020 UK Judicial Attitude Survey shows that 88 per cent of respondents were worried about what they perceive to be declining respect in government for the judiciary while 78 per cent expressed worry over attacks on judges in the media.

A majority of sheriffs, 56, per cent, said they would consider leaving the judiciary in the next five years. The figure for senators was 35 per cent while for summary sheriffs it was 16 per cent.

The reduction in pension benefits was the most important factor that would make salaried judges in Scotland more likely to leave the judiciary early.

Lack of respect for judges by government was the second largest factor that would make salaried judges in Scotland more likely to leave their posts early.

The largest increases in concern from the 2016 survey to the present one were over fiscal constraints, loss of experienced judges, loss of judicial independence, the inability to attract the best people to join the judiciary and the reduction in face-to-face hearings.

This last concern was likely to be influenced by the conditions judges experienced during the Covid-19 emergency up to June 2020 when the survey was run.