The convention banning U.K. judges from returning to private practice will remain in place after the government Monday issued its long-awaited response to a consultation paper on the controversial subject.

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, said lifting the prohibition would not increase diversity in the judiciary and that the ban would therefore remain in place.The government launched a consultation paper on the subject last year and had been expected to issue its response in March 2007, with subsequent delays coming as the government examined safeguards to prevent abuse of any relaxation in the rules.The paper received responses from 25 organizations, with the Law Society and City of London Law Society Litigation Committee among the bodies coming out in favor of an end to the ban.London law firm Herbert Smith also backed the proposal, saying it considered the prohibition a major obstacle for younger applicants that wished to serve in a salaried judicial capacity but did not want to close off future career options.However, the top 10 U.K. practice raised doubts in its submission that a reversal of the ban would improve diversity on the bench.Six bodies voiced their opposition to the mooted change, including the Bar Council and the Judges’ Council, which convened a working group, chaired by Lord Justice Pill, to discuss the issues.Announcing his decision, Straw said: “I do not believe there is sufficient evidence that this would achieve a more diverse judiciary and that therefore the arguments against this change outweigh those [in favour].”The news comes with a handful of former judges having already moved into consultancy roles in private practice. In 2005 Patents Court judge Sir Hugh Laddie controversially quit the bench to take up a consultancy role with specialist intellectual property outfit Willoughby & Partners, while the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, joined Blackstone Chambers as a senior mediator.The issue came under the spotlight again in July when Justice Peter Smith was referred to the Office of Judicial Complaints after refusing to stand down from a case involving an Addleshaw Goddard partner weeks after Smith had been in negotiations about a move to the national firm.The decision comes despite a Legal Week poll last year which found that almost three-quarters of senior business lawyers in the U.K. were in favour of lifting the ban on judges returning to private practice.