Judicial Appointments Commission names trio of new commissioners

Old Bailey judge Angela Rafferty KC appointed alongside in-house solicitor Nicolina Andall and leading public junior Tom Cross to select future judges
The High Court in London

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Three new appointments have been made to the Judicial Appointments Committee by King Charles III on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk KC MP.

The appointments are notable for their diversity, with two women and one man being appointed. Heading the list is the former chair of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), Her Honour Judge Angela Rafferty KC, who becomes a judicial commissioner.

A former member of Red Lion Chambers, Rafferty was called in 1995 and appointed as a part-time Recorder in 2009. She took silk in 2015 and appointed as a circuit judge four years later, sitting at the Central Criminal Court, having served as CBA chair during a particularly difficult time in 2018. 

Rafferty has played a crucial role in training judges and police officers across the UK to handle serious sexual offences, building on a background working with vulnerable clients and witnesses while at the Bar, having maintained an active interest in diversity and wellbeing, including at the junior Bar in practice.

She will be joined at the JAC by Nicolina Andall and Tom Cross, who have been appointed as professional commissioners. Their terms start on 1 July, 2024.

Andall is a solicitor renowned for her extensive experience in the City and international engineering firms, most recently serving as in-house counsel at Atlas Copco UK. She has also established her own legal practice and worked at firms including legacy SJ Berwin and Beale & Co.

Andall has been a notable presence on various corporate, charity and non-profit boards. Last year she was a judge at the Global Legal Post’s inaugural Women and Diversity in Law Awards (WADL). 

Andall, a paid independent member of the Ministry of Justice’s senior assessment panel for recruitment campaigns, was also recently promoted to deputy chair of the London Recruitment Advisory Committee, which appoints magistrates. At the JAC she succeeds former Slaughter & May disputes partner Sarah Lee after her second term. 

Meantime Cross, a junior barrister practising from 11KBW, specialises in public and regulatory law, civil liberties, human rights and professional discipline. Much of his legal practice encompasses issues related to equality law and he is also a member of the attorney general’s ‘A’ panel of crown counsel. At the JAC, Cross succeeds Gatehouse Chambers’ Brie Stephens-Hoare KC.

Dan Stilitz KC, head of chambers at 11KBW, welcomed Cross's appointment, saying: "The work of the JAC is crucial in ensuring that the judiciary is of the highest quality and that the pool for application is as diverse as possible.

"As the only barrister member, Tom’s role is also important in maintaining the link between the JAC and the Bar, which continues to provide many applicants for judicial office.  We wish Tom well in combining this new role with his busy practice.”

The JAC, an independent body, is tasked with selecting candidates for judicial office in courts and tribunals across England and Wales, among other matters. It plays a critical role in ensuring that judicial candidates are selected based on merit through fair and open competition.

There are 15 commissioners, supported by a senior leadership team, panel members and staff. One of the commissioners may be a practising barrister, namely Cross. Andall is the other legal practitioner commissioner, alongside seven judicial office holders, five lay members and a lay chair, Helen Pitcher OBE. 

The Law Society of England and Wales has criticised a lack of diversity among the higher judiciary, including fewer solicitor judges appointed to the High Court and above. The JAC’s use of so-called ‘secret soundings’ from current judges is currently subject to a legal challenge.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “The JAC should explore with an open mind why it still seems to be the case that, while we have a very diverse pool of applicants entering the JAC’s process, the appointees coming out the other end are significantly less diverse.”

Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the Next 100 Years project and current WADL judge, said: “The diversity of our judiciary has improved over recent years, but women still only make up just over a third of judges, and in 2023, we had only 67 Black judges across our courts and tribunals.”

The JAC, she said, had an important role to play in attracting the broadest possible pool of aspiring judges and bringing in more solicitors from private practice and in-house backgrounds.

“As we look to speed up progress towards a more representative judiciary, it’s great to see the appointment of Nicolina Andall, who has a strong track record of encouraging women and those from ethnic minorities to take on leadership roles,” she added.

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