Just two solicitors among latest High Court appointees

Just two solicitors were appointed in the 2023 appointments round for deputy High Court judges announced today, the lowest total in three years.

The competition, which was run by the Judicial Appointments Commission, saw a total of 29 appointees, the vast majority King’s Counsel, with just one junior – Alan Bates of Monckton Chambers – appointed.

The two solicitor appointees were the former co-head of international arbitration and litigation at US law firm, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Karyl Nairn KC, who retired from that firm in 2022. Nairn is also current vice president of both the London Court of International Arbitration, and the ICC’s International Court of Arbitration. She was appointed silk in 2013.

Saira Salimi, speaker’s counsel at the House of Commons, was also appointed. Salimi, who is head of the House of Commons legal team, previously worked in-house for the Church Commissioners, the Parliamentary Counsel’s office. She qualified at City firm  Withers.

One former solicitor, Anneli Howard KC, of Monckton Chambers, was appointed; Howard worked briefly as a litigation solicitor at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before being called to the bar in 2022, taking silk in 2021.

Of the 40 appointments in 2021, seven were solicitors, all but one from City firms such Allen & Overy, Mishcon de Reya and Clifford Chance. The low level of appointments follows criticisms of the JAC’s track record in appointing solicitors. A Law Society spokesperson said: ’The fact that fewer than one in 10 judicial appointments came from a non-barrister background serves as a reminder that the selection process needs to be reformed to remove barriers which continue to hold back people from underrepresented groups.

’If the judiciary is to truly reflect our modern and diverse society, outdated practices such as statutory consultation need to be scrapped and the selection process needs to appropriately weigh the experience, skills and qualifications of solicitors.’

The appointments are for six years, to January 2029. 



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