More than 40% of senior judges intend to quit early within five years, reflecting widespread disenchantment on the bench about deteriorating working conditions.
This is a key finding of the Judicial Attitude Survey, which was first conducted in 2014 and then repeated last year to help the Senior Salaries Review Body make recommendations to government.
The headline findings of the 2016 survey of salaried judges about jobs and working conditions will make grim reading for lord chancellor Liz Truss in the aftermath of vitriolic press attacks on senior judges over the Article 50 rulings.
Under half of judges (43%) feel valued by the public (down from 49% in 2014); and just 2% and 3% respectively feel valued by government and media (each down a percentage point).
The percentage of judges who feel valued by the legal profession has dipped from nearly three-quarters in 2014 to less than two-thirds.
Respondents depict a judicial environment dogged by low morale, crumbling buildings, personal safety concerns, pay and pension cuts, and a mounting workload.
Over three-quarters of judges feel their working conditions have deteriorated since 2014, with 46% of circuit judges responding that they are ‘significantly’ worse.
Most judges (64%) reported that the morale of court staff was poor; 43% said the maintenance of their building was poor; and 42% said administrative support was poor.
An overwhelming majority (78%) of salaried judges said they have lost earnings over the last two years, with 62% citing pension changes as affecting them personally. Three-quarters feel their pay and pension combined does not adequately reflect their work and most said it is affecting morale.
Judicial salaries range from £107,100 in the lower scale (including district judges) to £249,583 (lord chief justice).
Far more judges (51%) reported that the amount of out-of-hours work they must do has affected them, compared to just 29% in 2014.
A majority (51%) of judges are concerned about their personal safety while in court.
The proportion of judges who said they would leave if it were a viable option has almost doubled on 2014 to 42%. A higher percentage of courts judges (37%) than tribunal judges intend to leave in the next five years, with the highest proportions recorded among judges at the High Court (47%), Court of Appeal (41%) and at circuit level (40%).
Most judges said they would discourage suitable applicants from applying to the judiciary - citing further likely pension cuts, constant policy changes and lack of administrative support.
Overall, a majority of judges are most concerned by (in order of concern): staff cuts, judicial morale, increase in litigants in person, fiscal constraints, stressful working conditions, ability to attract the best people to the judiciary and loss of judicial independence.
The 2016 survey attracted a near universal response rate of 99% among salaried judges in England and Wales courts and UK tribunals.
Lord chief justice Lord Thomas and the Senior President of Tribunals Sir Ernest Ryder said in a statement: ’The quality of the judiciary underpins the rule of law and the continued success of our legal services market nationally and internationally. We are therefore extremely grateful to those who took part in the survey, which assists the SSRB in making evidence-based recommendations to government on judicial pay. In the light of the substantially greater remuneration available to the most able practitioners in private practice, these matters are vital to our ability to attract candidates and retain judges of the highest calibre.’