chapter  4
23 Pages

‘Opening up’ Commonwealth judicial appointments to diversity?

The growing role of commissions in judicial selection
ByJan van Zyl Smit

Entrusting the selection of judges to a commission or council 'looks likely to become the most popular selection system of the twenty-first century'. This chapter shows how prospects for greater judicial diversity have been affected by the design of these bodies, especially their composition and the nature of their judicial selection processes. It examines the establishment and reform of commissions through periods of decolonization and autochthonous constitutional change, as well as considering the emergence during the last 20 years of Commonwealth norms such as those contained in the Latimer House Principles and Guidelines. The chapter draws on the author's study of Commonwealth judicial appointment systems as they stood in 2015. Specific attention is paid to the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for England and Wales. The legal framework of the JAC was only established in 2005 and is comparatively elaborate by Commonwealth standards, which makes it well suited to illustrate contemporary debates on the design of such bodies.