Facing 'unprecedented' staffing issues, UK gives some High Court judges £47k allowance

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Facing what it calls “unprecedented recruitment issues,” the UK’s Ministry of Justice has decided to hike allowances for High Court judge by more than double.

The ministry has introduced a temporary recruitment and retention allowance of 25% for High Court judges, up from the 11% allowance for the said judges introduced in 2017.

It has also introduced a 15% allowance for judges in the circuit and upper tribunals, who are eligible for the new pension scheme.

Judges in District Courts and first-tier tribunals only get the 2% pay increase, which was included in the package for all members of the judiciary for 2019-20.

With the 2% pay increase, High Court judges will receive £188,901 in pay for 2019-20, which means their recruitment and retention allowance will be £47,225, the Law Society Gazette said. The new allowance for judges in the circuit and upper tribunals will be £21,043.

The ministry said that around 60 of the approximately 1,850 judges will get the 25% allowance.

The allowances are below the 32% permanent salary increase for High Court judges, as well as the 22% increase for Circuit and Upper Tribunal judges covered by the new pension scheme, that was recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Body in October after a review of judicial pay in the UK.

“Our judges are a cornerstone of our democratic society – their experience draws billions of pounds worth of business to the UK, and without them people cannot get justice,” Lord Chancellor David Gauke said. “We have reached a critical point. There are too many vacancies and with the retirement of many judges looming; we must act now before we see a serious impact on our courts and tribunals.

“Judges are in a unique position and once they join the bench are not permitted to return to practice. Without the best legal minds in these seats, everyone that uses our courts will suffer, as will our international reputation,” he said. “This temporary allowance, pending long-term pension scheme change, will enable us to continue to attract the brightest and best and prevent delays to potentially life-changing decisions.”