Personality tests may be used to pick new judges

JUDGES SHOULD be given personality tests to assess their suitability for the bench, a report commissioned by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, said yesterday.

The tests, devised by psychologists, would help Lord Irvine to identify lawyers with the right personalities to become judges or reach high judicial office. They would also be used to test against attitudes of racism, rudeness and over-conservatism.

The proposal forms part of Sir Leonard Peach's report on the judicial appointments process. Sir Leonard said that a trial group of part-time judges could be used to try out the "psychometric tests" - a form of personality assessment. The tests would then be included in the appointment process for assistant recorders (part-time junior judges) whose number include the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Booth.

Sir Leonard recommends: "The test should be completed prior to interview in controlled surroundings and its result should be used by the panel during the course of the interview and certainly in the final evaluation of the candidate."

Dr Colin Cooper, a psychologist and senior lecturer at Queen's University Belfast, said that any test on judicial suitability would have to test for set personality traits. He listed these as open-mindedness (willingness to consider new ideas), conscientiousness (careful attention to detail), agreeableness (being able to interact effectively with juries and counsel).

He said conservatism (prejudice, excessive punitiveness and ethnocentrism) was an example of a negative judicial personality trait. Judges would answer dozens of questions designed to test for these qualities. But he stressed that any clued-up aspiring judge would know what the expected answers to the questions would be.

Gerald Butler QC, a retired senior circuit judge, said he thought the most important quality for a judge was common sense. He said: "I suspect that it [the test] rather misses the point. You should probably do it three or four years after appointment as this is when weaknesses start to appear." He said this was when the "insolence of office" took effect. "I doubt you can test for those people who are more susceptible to that. I find the whole thing a rather curious idea indeed."

Sir Leonard also recommended the use of self- appraisal forms for potential judges and those seeking promotion as well as an Ombudsman to address the concerns of disappointed candidates. Lord Irvine welcomed the broad sweep of Sir Leonard's report, saying he would now "consider the recommendations in detail". He said he would immediately act on Sir Leonard's proposal for a Commissioner for judicial appointments to oversee the process.

But the Law Society, which represents solicitors, said the report was a "wasted opportunity for real reform" and stated its intention to continue with its boycott of "secret soundings" where judges, barristers and solicitors are consulted on the suitability of judicial candidates. It called for the creation of a full judicial appointments commission to select judges.

Lord Irvine said the term "secret soundings" was misleading because the system was no more "secret" than any other way of gathering references. He said that anyone who wanted to know who was being consulted about their application to the bench need only ask their department.

The Bar Council, which represents barristers, adopted an opposite stance and welcomed the report as "thoughtful and searching".

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam