Brenda Hale becomes first female head of the UK Supreme Court


Baroness Hale of Richmond will become the first female President of the UK Supreme Court in October, the country’s top appeal court.

Lady Hale will succeed Lord Neuberger as President of The Supreme Court. In addition, three new Justices have been appointed to the Court, including Lady Justice Black.

Lady Hale was brought up in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and attended Richmond High School for Girls, a state grammar school. After graduating from Cambridge, Lady Hale taught law at Manchester University from 1966 to 1984, also qualifying as a barrister and practising for a while at the Manchester Bar. She specialised in family and social welfare law and was founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. In 1984 she was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission.

Lady Hale became the United Kingdom’s first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in January 2004, before the establishment of the Supreme Court in 2009, following five years sitting in the Court of Appeal and five years as a High Court judge. She has been Deputy President of the Supreme Court since June 2013.

“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,” said Lady Hale.

“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,” she continued.

Lady Justice Black initially worked on a broad range of criminal and civil work, although she later specialised in family law. For a period in the 1980s she taught law at Leeds Polytechnic. She was a founding author of the definitive guide to family law practice in England and Wales and continues to serve as a consulting editor.

Lady Justice Black was appointed to the High Court in 1999, assigned to the Family Division. In 2004 she became the Chairman of the Judicial Studies Board’s Family Committee, until her appointment as a Judicial Appointments Commissioner in 2008, where she served until 2013. Lady Justice Black was appointed a Lady Justice of Appeal in 2010. She is currently the Head of International Family Justice.


The appointments were made by The Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, following the recommendations of two independent selection commissions.

The commissions consulted across each of the Supreme Court’s three United Kingdom jurisdictions before making its recommendations, which were welcomed by Lord Neuberger.

He 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.”

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