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Lord Toulson, former Supreme Court justice, has died

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He retired in 2016, but was still hearing cases as early as three weeks ago while the court looked for a replacement

Lord Toulson, 70, has died during a medical operation. The president of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, said:

It is with great sadness that the Supreme Court learns of the death of Lord Toulson… Justices and staff alike are shocked by the news, and we offer our deepest sympathy to Lady Toulson, his children and their families. They are all very much in our thoughts at this tragic time.

Toulson has enjoyed a life of academic achievement and progression through the legal system’s top ranks.

Having completed his GCSEs aged 13 and his A-levels at 15, Toulson went on to earn a Cambridge degree and was then called to the bar in 1969. He enjoyed a successful commercial law practice, and was made silk in 1986. His first taste of life in the judiciary came when he was appointed a crown court recorder in 1987. In 1996 he was made a High Court (Queen’s Bench Division) judge, before being promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2007.

Toulson — who served as the chairman of the Law Commission between 2002 and 2006 — was made a justice in the highest court in the country in 2013. Speaking last year, he said his most memorable case from his Supreme Court stint was R v Jogee, which changed the doctrine of joint enterprise and sparked undergraduate law syllabus reform.

Reflecting on Toulson’s three years on the bench, Neuberger said today:

Through his judgments and during hearings, Lord Toulson demonstrated a learned, deeply thoughtful and principled approach to resolving legal problems. These qualities ensure that his enormous contribution to the common law will always be remembered as disproportionate to the relatively short time for which he served upon the Supreme Court. And of course, he made great contributions to the law and to the administration of justice as a judge in the High Court and Court of Appeal, as well as a practising barrister before that.

Neuberger continued:

He will never know the full extent of the impact that his considerate, thoughtful and encouraging nature had on the Court, the wider profession and the society we serve, but it is a legacy that we will all treasure long into the future.

Toulson reached his statutory retirement date and hung up his Supreme Court robes on 29 July 2016. However, the court chose not to replace him because of the spate of upcoming 2017 retirements (basically it made sense to find Toulson’s replacement at the same time as Lords Neuberger’s and Clarke’s).

Because of this, the court set up a rotating roster of top judges to sit on cases ad hoc. This bank of part-timers includes Lord Dyson, Lord Gill, Lord Hamilton, and Toulson himself. The last case he sat on was Jamaica Public Service Company, a Privy Council case involving an electricity licence clause, three weeks before his death. A final word from Neuberger:

He was a truly valued colleague, a man of honour, modesty and integrity who will be deeply missed by all with whom he worked.

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23 Comments

Anonymous

Seems unlikely he got his gcse’s aged 15, given they were introduced in 1984, just two years before he took silk.

(42)(12)

Anonymous

how about instead of being pedantic you shut up and show some respect to the dead

(18)(29)

Anonymous

Really, the dead deserve respect? They can’t feel. Anyways I wasn’t disrespecting him, I was questioning the validity of a statement.

(7)(10)

Anonymous

GCSE/O Levels – same thing. Not really the point here is it though?

(21)(3)

Alex

Yeah, right. I’ve got O-levels, and I can tell you that back in the day they really meant something. You stood or fell by how you performed on the day, just like in real life at the Bar: none of this coursework shit, getting an A* by cutting and pasting some old bollocks from Wikipedia before missing the exam and claiming to be too upset to attend after the death of your pet hamster. I walked 5 miles to the O-level exam hall in my bare feet.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(12)(14)

Anonymous

Top bants.

(3)(2)

Grammar pedant

Katie, memo to self: stopping saying “basically”. It is a meaningless, redundant word and has no place here.

(4)(2)

Formless Being

But he was a successful man?
He should be derided

(3)(10)

Corbyn. Symphathiser

Edgy.

(1)(5)

Tim

“Neuberger”? *Lord* Neuberger, I think you mean.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

The only Lord we have is Jesus

(19)(4)

LL and P

Amen brother.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

He was an absolute gent and for those who knew him this is sad sad news.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

I agree definitely he was “an absolute gent” indeed. Nothing can describe him better. Truly sad sad news for those knew him.

(8)(0)

Martin

As part of our law course we covered one of his talks…. shame he died suddenly ….

(3)(0)

Sir Geffroy De Joinville

Alas I knew him , but not well. God speed Lord Rougier.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Lord Toulson’s middle name was Grenfell. Coincidence?

(1)(4)

Anonymous

Yes.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I’m confused by this (but happy to be enlightened). Why as early as three weeks ago? Should it not be as late as three weeks ago (perhaps with reference to hearing cases toward the very later part of his life)?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Maybe “As recent as three weeks ago” would be more appropriate.

(0)(0)

Reggie

Hey, Alex- Where did you live and where did you do your O levels that you had to walk barefoot?

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.