Courts would sit at weekends to give women a better chance of becoming judges, under plans for 'family friendly' working hours.

Ministers will suggest changes, including different sitting hours, encouraging senior women lawyers to apply, and redrawing rules that force would-be judges to sit part-time initially - in time carved out from their existing careers - before becoming eligible. While more women than men are now called to the Bar, fewer than 16 per cent of judges are women and just under 4 per cent come from ethnic minorities.

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