21 Jul 2017

Supreme Court appoints first female president

Lawyers have welcomed the appointment of Baroness Hale as president of the court but highlighted the growing crisis over investment in the courts and low morale amongst the judiciary.


Baroness Hale has been appointed as the first female President of Supreme Court. The 72-year-old family law expert will take up the position following the retirement of Lord Neuberger in September, having been his deputy since 2013. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for civil cases in the UK, and criminal cases from England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Baroness Hale of Richmond became the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court in 2009. The legal marketplace welcomed the appointment. Ed Crosse, president of the London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) and a partner with Simmons & Simmons, commented:'The appointment of such a high quality judge as Baroness Hale to President of the Supreme Court is a welcome move.  It is also an important step towards increasing diversity within the judiciary.' 

Recruitment and diversity crisis

However, he went on to say that there was  'a very serious recruitment crisis and lack of judicial diversity affecting both our Civil and Criminal Courts, which appears to be worsening, with a shortfall in suitable candidates for two years in a row now. This year the Judicial Appointments Committee is looking to fill 25 High Court positions, around a quarter of the number of High Court judges overall. It seems unlikely that it will be able to do so. The low morale on the bench is well known and is having a direct impact on recruitment and retention.' He added that if the trend was to be reversed London’s position as the forum of choice for international disputes was to be maintained, 'the Government must introduce measures to address this concern as a matter of urgency, and that will mean substantial investment in our Courts. This would be a financially prudent investment for the Government to make given the substantial income that legal services generates for the national purse.'