Dame Ingrid Simler’s journey to the Supreme Court is a testament to her exceptional legal acumen and commitment to justice. Having read Law as an undergraduate at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, she embarked on a journey that saw her attain a post-graduate diploma in EU law at the Europa Institute, University of Amsterdam. Her legal career took root when she was called to the Bar by Inner Temple in 1987.
Notably, Dame Ingrid’s association with Devereux Chambers proved to be a pivotal chapter in her career, where she ascended to the position of Head of Chambers before taking on the role of a judge.
Her stellar career included appointments to prestigious roles such as the Attorney General’s Civil Panel A in 2001 and as Junior Counsel to the Inland Revenue (Common Law) in 2002. The recognition of her expertise came with the silk designation in 2006, marking a significant milestone in her journey.
In 2002, Dame Ingrid Simler was appointed as a Recorder on the South East circuit, and in 2010, she assumed the role of Deputy High Court Judge. Her elevation to the position of a Judge of the High Court in October 2013, within the Queen’s Bench Division (now King’s Bench Division), further solidified her standing in the legal fraternity. Notably, she concurrently served as the High Court Liaison Judge for Diversity.
Dame Ingrid’s journey continued with her appointment as a Lady Justice of the Court of Appeal in June 2019, a position that showcased her expertise in areas spanning employment law, tax, public law, and criminal law. Her contributions to the legal landscape did not go unnoticed, and in January 2015, she was appointed President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal for a three-year term, a position she held until December 2018.
During her tenure, Dame Ingrid’s commitment to diversity was evident as she chaired the Diversity Committee of the Judges’ Council in 2019. Simultaneously, she became a crucial member of the Civil Executive Team, reporting to the Master of the Rolls. This multifaceted involvement underscored her dedication to fostering inclusivity within the legal system.
The announcement of Dame Ingrid Simler’s appointment to the Supreme Court comes at a critical juncture, prompting reflections on the broader issue of diversity within the UK judiciary. The Supreme Court acknowledged the existing criticisms regarding the under-representation of certain groups, including women, black, Asian, and other ethnic minorities, and disabled lawyers.
The statistics on judicial diversity, published in July, reveal that progress has been made, with women constituting 42 percent of judges. However, there remains a persistent gap, particularly in the representation of non-white judges, which currently stands at 11 percent. This figure is notably lower than the proportions of ethnic minority barristers and solicitors in the legal industry, emphasising the need for accelerated change.
While Dame Ingrid Simler’s appointment to the UK Supreme Court is a significant step towards addressing these diversity challenges, the gender balance is still far from ideal. In addition to Lady Rose, Simler will constitute one of only two female members on the 12-person bench.
As the fifth female justice appointed since the establishment of the current Supreme Court format in 2009, she contributes to the ongoing narrative of breaking gender barriers. The Supreme Court’s acknowledgment of the need for more substantial progress reflects a collective commitment to fostering a judiciary that is representative of the diverse society it serves.
In addition to Dame Ingrid’s appointment, the recent swearing-in of Dame Sue Carr as the lady chief justice marks another milestone in history. Dame Sue Carr is the first woman to assume this role in the 750-year history of the position. The combined impact of these appointments signifies a turning point, prompting reflections on the strides made and the work that remains to be done to achieve a truly diverse and inclusive judiciary.
As Dame Ingrid Simler prepares to take her seat on the UK Supreme Court, the legal community anticipates the positive influence her wealth of experience will bring to the bench. The President of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon The Lord Reed of Allermuir, expressed his delight at Lady Justice Simler’s appointment, highlighting her exceptional experience and ability, particularly in employment law, tax, public law, and criminal law.
However, the journey towards a more diverse judiciary does not end with these appointments. The legal community, in collaboration with relevant authorities and organisations, must continue to strive for increased representation across all spectrums. The call for inclusivity extends beyond gender to encompass race, ethnicity, disability, and other dimensions of diversity.
Dame Ingrid Simler’s impending appointment to the UK Supreme Court is a cause for celebration, not only for her remarkable achievements but for the strides it represents in addressing the longstanding issue of diversity within the judiciary.
As Lady Justice Simler takes her place among the esteemed justices, her journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring lawyers and a reminder of the collective responsibility to cultivate a legal system that is truly reflective of the society it serves. The challenges remain, but with each milestone, the path towards a more inclusive and representative judiciary becomes clearer, signalling a future where justice truly knows no bounds.
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