Journalism in the service of society

UK: England appoints first female Lord Chief Justice

VETERAN UK lawyer Sue Carr was named Thursday as the first woman to serve as the most senior judge for England and Wales in the role of lord chief justice, which dates back to the 13th century.

Carr, 58, was appointed to succeed current Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett, who is retiring at the end of September.

The title-holder oversees the judiciary in England and Wales — Scotland has a separate legal system — although its pre-eminence was diluted by the creation of the UK Supreme Court in 2009.

Carr qualified as a barrister — arguing cases in court — in 1987 and her roles have included work with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

She became a criminal judge in 2009, and has served on the appeals court since 2020.

Married with three children, the Cambridge graduate is a keen musician who sings in a lawyers’ choir and plays the piano.

Carr’s appointment comes as the UK government seeks to improve the gender mix in senior legal roles — although men account for two-thirds of judges, and ethnic minorities are under-represented.

Black judges make up just over one percent of the total in England and Wales, barely changed from 2014, according to a Law Society report last year.

“At that rate of progress, it would take until 2149 for the proportion of the judiciary who are black to match the current estimate for the general population — 3.5 percent,” it said.

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