Senior judges in the UK are better paid than their counterparts in most of the rest of Europe – and more likely to be male, the latest edition of a wide-ranging survey of justice systems reveals today.

According to the Council of Europe’s survey on the efficiency of justice, the most senior judges in England and Wales were paid 7.7 times the national average wage, behind only Ukraine (8.5 times) and Northern Ireland (8.3 times).

Meanwhile, among 47 nations surveyed, the UK was fifth from bottom in the proportion of female professional judges.

Overall, the Council of Europe’s European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice shows that European countries spend on average €60 per inhabitant per year on the functioning of the justice system. The wealthier states are not necessarily those that spend the most, the report says.  

It notes an 'overall upward trend’ despite cuts in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Spending per inhabitant in England and Wales was €92 in 2014. 

Justice ministers are likely to seize on the 2014 figure legal aid per case: England and Wales allocated €1,479, the highest figure recorded; this compares to €888 in Scotland, €456 in Germany, €342 in France and a Europe-wide average of €456. 

While a glass ceiling blocks access to the most senior judicial positions, 'on the whole, there is parity in the numbers of male and female judges and public prosecutors’, the report says.

The judicial systems with the lowest percentage of females among professional judges were Azerbaijan (11%), Armenia (23%), Northern Ireland (23%), Scotland (23%), England & Wales (30%) and Ireland (33%); the Europe-wide average was 51%.