Akhlaq Choudhury, President of the Employment Appeals Tribunal

Akhlaq Choudhury KC was a barrister specialising in commercial, employment, procurement, information and public law. He was appointed a Deputy High Court judge in 2016 and a High Court judge in 2017. He is currently President of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. He answers some questions about what inspired him to apply and what it’s like becoming a judge and continuing his legal practice.

What were your reasons for wanting to be a judge?
One reason was to gain an insight into what it’s like to be on the receiving end of advocacy, good and bad. It seemed obvious that having the perspective of a judge could help me become a better advocate.

Another reason was the opportunity to make decisions on issues that are of fundamental importance to those coming before the Court. I wondered whether I could do what appeared to be quite a difficult and challenging job.

How did you prepare for your application?
I am incredibly fortunate to be in a set of Chambers where there are colleagues with judicial experience and speaking to them was helpful. I did some shadowing, which confirmed my decision to have a go. I also read as much material as I could to prepare for the application, including the information on the JAC website.

What is the best thing about being a judge?
The best thing can also be the most daunting: having the responsibility and power to make decisions that will have a direct bearing on people’s lives.

The support you get from other judges is also fantastic. I had expected it to be a rather lonely job but in fact the opposite has been the case.

How do you manage sitting as a judge and practising as a barrister?
This is easier than I thought. There is flexibility in arranging sittings and I have almost always managed to book them at a time that suited me. Of course your practice doesn’t stop just because you are sitting but it is usually relatively easy to set aside a little time before or after court to catch up on emails or address urgent queries.

What is your message to someone considering becoming a judge?
“Don’t hesitate”.

If you succeed you will find being a judge can be enjoyable and immensely rewarding

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