Lady Hale to become first woman president of the UK Supreme Court

Lady Hale
Lady Hale

Baroness Hale of Richmond will succeed Lord Neuberger as President of the UK Supreme Court, making her the first-ever woman to hold the top judicial post, it was announced today.

She will be sworn in on 2 October 2017, the same day that Lady Justice Black, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Lord Justice Briggs join the Supreme Court as Justices.

It furthers her long record of setting milestones for women, having been the first woman appointed to the Law Commission, the second woman on the Court of Appeal, and the first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. She has been deputy president of the Supreme Court since June 2013.

In late 2015, Lady Hale said the Supreme Court needed to become “a much more diverse court”, and spoke of her regret that many women fail to apply “for fear of being thought to be appointed just because they are a woman”.

Last year, she said the legal profession had to take active steps to move towards a more diverse senior judiciary.

The under-representation of women in senior judicial roles contrasts with the growing number of women lawyers. Since late 2015, a majority of solicitors in Scotland are women.

Speaking today, Lady Hale said: “It is a great honour and a challenge to be appointed to succeed Lord Neuberger. I look forward to building upon his pioneering achievements, including developing closer links with each part of the United Kingdom, for example by sitting outside London, and improving the ways in which we communicate our work to the public.

“Recent high-profile cases mean that more people than ever before have heard of the Supreme Court, and we hope that this will help to create a broader understanding of how the judiciary serves society.

“While I of course look forward to working alongside all my colleagues, it is a particular pleasure for me to be taking up the post at the same time as we welcome only the second ever woman to sit on the UK’s top appeal court.”

Lord Neuberger said: “I have had the pleasure of working closely with Lady Hale over the last five years, and have seen at first hand the intellect and humanity with which she approaches the appeals which come before her, as well as her commitment to the rule of law, legal education and building public understanding of the work of the courts.

“For Lady Hale to become President of the institution to which she has contributed so much is a fitting pinnacle to a truly ground-breaking career.

“She is joined by three new Justices, each of whom has led a distinguished judicial career and has a huge amount to offer the Court and the development of the law.”

A commission convened by the Lord Chancellor will recommend someone to replace Lady Hale as Deputy President. An announcement is expected before the start of the new legal year, on 2 October, when it is intended the new Deputy President should take up office.

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