Thursday, 1 October 2009

More tokenism.

Women have been practising law in Britain since the 1870s and called to the Bar since the 1920s, but despite several generation of women lawyers in Britain, we could only find one qualified enough to sit on the brand-spanking new Supreme Court. SIGH.

But, actually, the content of this post is a complaint about
the website. In the UK, there are three equal and distinct legal systems, operating in England and Wales, in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court is to be the final court of appeals for all three systems, so the judges are meant to reflect all three systems. There are eight lawyers representing the English system, two for Scotland and two for Northern Ireland, which given population differentials is not hugely unfair. However, if we read the website, two of the judges practised law in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland, and eight just practised 'law' or were called to regional bars, with no mention that they represent the English and Welsh system.

The effect of this is to imply that the English/Welsh system is the default/the norm, and Scotland and Northern Ireland are exeptional. This denies the equality of the three legal systems and as such devalues the Scottish and Irish systems, making their representation tokenism. Let's hope the practice of law in the Supreme Court does not reflect this.

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