Birthday honours….. should judges accept honours from the State if independent judiciary?

I am not a fan of the *Honours* system – but be that as it may ….as my learned friends might say…as they do.

I do, however, wonder if the judges should accept honours from the State in an independent judiciary.

I’ll get my coat…..

5 thoughts on “Birthday honours….. should judges accept honours from the State if independent judiciary?

  1. I am not a fan of the honours system either but while we have it I can think of no better peers than the judges of the Supreme Court and no better knights or dames than those of the Senior Courts. When I call a judge “My Lord” or “My Lady” I show respect to the office rather than the office holder. I have witnessed slanging matches between counsel and “Monsieur le juge” in France (and even in the USA and Australia between “His Honour” and the advocates) that I have never seen here. I put that down to the fact that our Senior Court judges are a bit special. Dignity in the court room helps speed proceedings which saves clients’ money and is more likely to result in a fair appreciation of the evidence and argument.

  2. Hi Jane – but do judges need to be seen as a *Bit Special*….?

    Their judgements define their ability….surely… not their titles?

    Could be wrong – but I can live with that as I head towards Hades…

  3. It seems to me as a member of the public (mop) that the mesh that knits members of the law profession close to those in government has been recognised and viewed with concern for some time. For example there have been efforts to bring in those from ‘minority’ and ‘disadvantaged’ groups.
    The continuing problem is not only because senior members of the Judiciary stay in place long after the retirement age recognised for most of the rest of society but also because that knit becomes tighter as the hierarchy draws to its apex. That part remains least visible (for understandable reasons) and least accountable; maybe their susceptibility to honours occurs for most as they feel the yarn draw them in to the reward – status – we have to offer beyond money and power.

  4. Well, there are regulations in industry but Judges are a law unto themselves. Maybe we should be asking whether the judge has already done his good deed for the State and is now being paid? I think they shouldn’t accept presents/honours if they wish to remain plausible as being independent Judges.

  5. Charon is correct. Their judgments – and judgement and ability to manage the trial process itself – define their ability. Frankly, after achieving what they have in public life and the private bar, many would likely be of the view that the baubles offered to them are underwhelming in the context of their careers. It is true that the world of royalty and medals do serve a purpose – there is a certain ritual for example to award returning soldiers a medal as a talisman of acceptance by society of their actions in killing others on the battlefield – that it’s “OK”, and they are accepted. But for an intelligent person experienced at the bar and on the bench to accept such a bauble? It’s wrong.

    There must be quite some peer pressure over there to conform and be part of the ‘set’ for such people to accept these things. I know many successful people who, if offered such a title, would simply say “I don’t recognize your earthly titles”, in the sense that they are not divine and can bear little relation to the amount of good a person is capable of doing in this world to others. The only thing that power respects is more power, and it’s difficult to see how wearing a bauble is somehow a marker of such a thing these days, when acts of ordinary goodness would demonstrate that very “such a thing”.

    And Jane, I’d take an American (or Australian for that matter) judge who is more interested in professionalism and ‘seeing that it’s done’ over one that wishes to rely upon some Ye Ancient Historical Title for their sense of self any day of the week and twice on a Sunday.

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