UK judges feel undervalued and underpaid

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While virtually all judges in the UK feel that they provide an important service to society, a significant number of them feel undervalued by the government and the media.

According to the latest UK Judicial Attitude Survey, judges feel most valued by their colleagues (84%), court staff (77%), the legal profession (62%), and parties in cases before them (62%). However, while almost half of judges feel valued by the public (43%), very few feel valued by the UK Government (2%) or the media (3%).

Most judges, however, feel a personal attachment to being a member of the judiciary (90%), little changed from 2014 levels. Virtually all judges (99%) said they were committed to doing their job as well as they possibly can.

This is despite many judges feeling they are underpaid. Most judges (78%) say they have had a loss of net earnings in the last two years, while a majority (62%) also say the change of pensions has personally affected them. Meanwhile, a majority (74%) also feel that their pay and pension entitlement combined does not adequately reflect the work they have done and will do before retirement.

This has negatively affected morale, with 63% of judges saying judiciary salary is affecting their morale and 82% saying that the salary issue is affecting the morale of judges they work with. Sixty-six percent said changes in pensions affected their own morale, and 88% said pension changes affected the morale of judges they work with.

According to the survey, judges are evenly divided on whether they would leave the bench if that were a viable option. However, the proportion of judges who said they would if it were viable almost doubled, from 23% in 2014 to 42% in 2016.

The survey also found that a majority (76%) feel their working conditions have deteriorated since 2014. Nonetheless, more judges feel deterioration in working conditions was worse from 2009 to 2014.

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