Nice little earner, me Lord
Obiter would rather be a judge than a miner, and we have the Latin (as the name suggests). Indeed, to quote the late Peter Cook, we have the Latin for the judgin’ (Oxford and Cambridge A-level, 1987). Sitting in yer nice warm guildhalls or hacking away at the coalface (hewing if you prefer) – it’s no contest. And quite frankly, and without becoming all vulgar about it, the money ain’t half bad either. The Ministry of Justice has just published a list of judicial salaries for 2010/11, and – while clearly not in the same league as investment bankers or top-earning City firm partners – a judge is never going to be short of the readies for a new syrup. Top of the tree is the lord chief justice himself, Lord Judge, who pockets a highly respectable £239,845. A hefty sum when you consider that the saturnine occupant of the highest office in the land, Gordon Brown, pulls down just £130,594 for his prime ministerial duties and an extra £61,820 as an MP. The judicial number two, master of the rolls Lord Neuberger, earns £214,165, while appeal judges get a chunky £196,707 – not bad for saying ‘I agree’. Down the pecking order a bit, district judges receive a not inconsiderable £102,921. There is one big grey cloud on the horizon, however. All the daily prints are predicting that the next chancellor, whoever he may be, is going to come after public section pensions as a top priority for slashing government spending. And judges’ pensions are quite staggeringly generous – only the governor of the Bank of England fares better. Will judges be subject to the full blast of fiscal austerity? Or will they be treated as a special case, as they were when Lord Falconer removed the requirement that tax relief on personal pension savings be limited to the lifetime limit? We’ll see.