About the legislation

About the Legislation

Section 51 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act was introduced to enable the Lord Chancellor to extend eligibility to holders of qualifications issued by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, and other qualifications issued by authorised bodies under the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 in relation to judicial offices specified in the order. The key purpose is to support diversity by widening the range of people who are eligible for judicial appointment, and to ensure that all those with the requisite qualifications, skills and experience can apply.

The Government is committed to increasing public confidence in the justice system, and one way to support that is to have a judiciary that broadly reflects the society it serves. Women are under-represented in the judiciary and in fact make up less than 20% of the courts' judiciary in England and Wales. The comparable figure for the number of women in the population of England and Wales is 51.3%. Similarly, 7.9% of the UK population is from a Black or Minority Ethnicity background, but only 4% of the English and Welsh judiciary fall into this category. The government decided it was essential it took steps to ensure that it recruited judges from the widest possible pool of available talent. That is what section 51 of the Act has now sought to do.

During the parliamentary debates, Chartered Legal Executives received much praise from both MPs and Lords. CILEx is grateful for the support of all parliamentarians who gave our members their backing. Some of their quotes are shown below, please note that these quotes date from before the granting of the Royal Charter:

Henry Bellingham MP: "Although members of CILEx are not qualified solicitors or barristers, they have qualified as lawyers, and many of them have a huge amount of practical experience. It always struck me as perverse that they were not eligible for some of the more junior judicial appointments

Lord Thomas of Gresford (Spokesperson in the Lords (Shadow Attorney General): "My Lords, your Lordships should know that I have always been a supporter of the Institute of Legal Executives, because from the time I started in the legal profession I realised that there were many people of great talent whose background had prevented them qualifying in the usual way. One problem with the legal profession was that it set up barriers that prevented people fulfilling their talents. For many people, the Institute of Legal Executives was a major step forward in opening the door to a professional qualification. I am pleased to have been a part of the process of seeing their chances and opportunities developing. The Minister may recall that, during the passing of the Bill, I spoke in favour of these proposals and said I did not believe there should ever be a ceiling for legal executives."