Is the British Judiciary independent? 10 mark Q

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Serife Gunal
Is the British Judiciary independent?
Judicial independence is the strict separation of powers, ensuring that the judiciary does not overlap and
is not, in any way, influenced by any part of government or the government of the day. In countries with
a parliamentary system, like the UK, judiciaries are often found a separate body. The British judiciary,
then, is certainly independent. Within the structure of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, it was outlined
that the appointment of judges should be overseen by the Judicial Appointments Commission so as to
ensure that nepotism and partisanship are not factors in the appointment of judges. Previously it had
been the role of the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor to appoint judges but the new reform
ensures a certain element of independence where politics is no longer a factor in the selection of the
Furthermore, the fact that judges have security of tenure emphasises that the British Judiciary is
independent. It is a life tenure that protects a judge from the external pressures that are exerted on
other branches of government, and also it allows a judge to abide by the rule of law and their own
discretion. Without it, they may not judge as they see fit for fear of removal from their position but
security of tenure ensures that they can make decisions away from politics, with the guarantee of
keeping their job. Here the independence is found within the main function of the judiciary. Various
depictions of Lady Justice are seen outside important judicial building across the world, including the UK
where there is a statue of her outside of the Old Bailey. It portrays justice as being blind, or impartial to
influence of what has gone before, or from other sources and is an important addition to judicial
independence. With judges being free to judge as they see fit and in the way that is taught by the story
of Lady Justice, then the British Judiciary can be truly independent.
To conclude, the appointment of judges and their security of tenure are two factors which highlight the
fact that the British Judiciary is independent.


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