Carr appointed first ever female Lord Chief Justice


Carr: Joined bench in 2009

Dame Sue Carr was yesterday appointed the first female Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, just three years after joining the Court of Appeal.

The 59-year-old will take over on 1 October from Lord Burnett following his retirement. It is unknown whether the title will change.

It is believed that Dame Victoria Sharp, president of the King’s Bench Division, was the other candidate interviewed for the role. She is 67.

Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: “This is a historic moment and I hope will lead to further progress on women’s representation within the judiciary.

“Only around a third of judges in our courts are women, with even fewer in the senior judiciary. We need to see this improve. This momentous appointment is a sign that times are changing.”

Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the Next 100 Years project on women in the profession and CEO of Obelisk Support, said: “This is an historic first for women in law. It is over 100 years since women were first permitted to practise as lawyers, yet we are still seeing pioneers breaking new ground, with Dame Carr taking on a position that, since the 13th century, has only ever been held by a man.

“At a time when improving diversity of the judiciary is an urgent priority, I hope her appointment signals further efforts to increase the number of women in the most senior judicial roles.”

Called in 1987, Dame Sue specialised in general commercial law at 2 Crown Office Row (now 4 New Square) and took silk in 2003.

She became chair of the Professional Negligence Bar Association in 2007, chair of the Bar Standards Board Conduct Committee in 2008, and was appointed as the complaints commissioner to the International Criminal Court in the Hague in 2011.

Her judicial career began in 2009 in crime, when she became a recorder. She was appointed to the High Court bench in the Queen’s Bench Division in 2013, and became a nominated judge of the Commercial Court and the Technology and Construction Court in 2014.

In the same year, she became a member of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal until 2016. She was a Presider of the Midland Circuit from 2016 until 2020, when she was appointed as a Lady Justice of Appeal.

In the same year, she was also appointed as the senior judicial commissioner and vice chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission, a position she held until January 2023. In that time, she completed a major overhaul of the regime for disciplining judges.

The independent selection panel was chaired by Helen Pitcher, chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission.

The other members were Lord Lloyd-Jones of the Supreme Court, Sue Hoyle OBE and Sarah Lee – lay and professional members of the Judicial Appointments Commission – and Lord Justice Edis, the Senior Presiding Judge.

Stuart Fegan, senior organiser at GMB, the union which earlier this year set up a branch for judges, said: “This breakthrough for senior women judges is historic and GMB offers congratulations.

“We need improvements including judicial workers’ conditions, equality, quality of recruitment, promotion of judges, making discipline procedures functional and fair and to offer our skills in the service of the rule of law in this country.

“There are many challenges ahead including backlogs and modernising digital justice.”




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