Dame Sue Carr sworn in as Lady Chief Justice

Lady Chief JusticeNews

Dame Sue Carr today becomes, and will be known as, the Lady Chief Justice of England and Wales.

As Lady Chief Justice, Dame Sue Carr will be the President of the Courts of England and Wales and Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales. She is the 98th person to hold this historic office and the first woman.

Dame Carr was sworn in at a ceremony held today at the Royal Courts of Justice, where she took the judicial oath. The ceremony was attended by many representatives from across the justice system with speeches delivered by the Master of the Rolls and Attorney General, as well as representatives from the Bar Council and Law Society.

Dame Sue Carr says:

“It is a great privilege to assume this role. I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Lord Burnett, who has demonstrated extraordinary resilience and leadership during a time of great change, including keeping the courts running during the pandemic. He has personally given so much to the law and to the judiciary.

I do not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead, and I look forward to approaching the role with energy, enthusiasm, and positivity. The rule of law is a fundamental constitutional principle which underpins an open, fair and peaceful society, where citizens and businesses can prosper. Our judges and magistrates are its cornerstone.”

The role

The role, which in its modern form dates back to 1873, has some 400 statutory (required by law) duties. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Lady Chief Justice’s key responsibilities include:

  • Representing the views of the judges and magistrates of England and Wales to Parliament and Government.
  • The welfare, training and guidance of the judges and magistrates of England and Wales. The Lady Chief Justice discusses with Government the provision of resources for the judiciary, which are allotted by the Lord Chancellor.
  • Deciding the court areas in which individual judges sit and allocating work to the courts in England and Wales.

The LCJ also:

  • Is President of the Courts of England and Wales and may hear cases in any English or Welsh court, including in Magistrates’ Courts.
  • Sits on important criminal, civil and family cases. The LCJ gives judgments and lays down practice directions (these set out the approach that must be taken to cases in future) in many of the most important appeal cases.
  • Shares responsibility with the Lord Chancellor for the Office for Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, the body which investigates complaints made against judicial office holders.
  • Is President of the Sentencing Council, the independent body set up to support greater consistency in sentencing.
  • Chairs the Judicial Executive Board and the Judges’ Council, two bodies which assist in managing her responsibilities. The LCJ is also President of the Magistrates’ Association.

Read more about Lady Chief Justice Carr’s appointment, which was announced in June, including a summary of her career.