If I told you that 78% of all judges in a certain country were "extremely concerned" that their government had lost respect for them, what country would come to mind? Bolivia? Myanmar? Poland? Bangladesh perhaps? (These are the countries ranked among the worst for judicial independence on the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index.) No, it's actually the United Kingdom, whose judicial independence score is among the best in the world. The annual Judicial Attitude Survey for 2020 (pdf) results is where this 78% figure comes from. Key findings on judicial respect:
Judges in the UK are under political attack for their so-called activism in judicial review: failing, as unelected officials, to show sufficient deference to democratic government policymaking and legislation. A report commissioned by government in the summer of 2019 to "end the abuse" of judicial review was recently handed in by Lord Faulks QC. The Law Society submission says there is no need for reform - the common law on judicial review is working pretty well. These sorts of attacks are not new, and not limited to the UK. They are based on misapprehensions: first, of the role of the judiciary as impartial arbiters of the constitution, and second of the meaning of democracy.
As a 2015 study* concludes, "[T]he greatest threat to judicial independence in future may lie not from politicians actively seeking to undermine the courts, but rather from their increasing disengagement from the justice system and the judiciary." Unfortunately, as recent events in the UK demonstrate, this is no longer an either/or situation.