Sir Ian Burnett becomes youngest Lord Chief Justice in over 50 years

Court of Appeal judge will take over from Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd later this year

Sir Ian Burnett has been appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

Burnett, a former Temple Garden Chambers barrister, became a High Court (Queen’s Bench Division) judge in 2008 and was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2014. According to his online judicial profile, the experienced public lawyer — who worked on the Princess Diana death inquest — also spent a number of years as deputy chairman of the Security Vetting Appeals Panel and as a presiding judge on the Western Circuit.

Interestingly, legal affairs journalist Joshua Rozenberg took to social media this afternoon to point out that Burnett, at the sprightly age of 59, will be the youngest Chief Justice in over 50 years. For the fact fans out there, Rozenberg also revealed Lord Parker of Waddington, appointed in 1958, was younger.

On a more detailed Facebook post, he continued:

As the law currently stands, Burnett could serve as Chief Justice for up to ten years. The job is hugely demanding and Burnett might be expected to move up to the Supreme Court after five years or so.

Burnett will take over from Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd. Due to step down at the end of September, Thomas has held the role since 2013.

Earlier this year, a number of LCJ front runners were ruled out after the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) imposed an upper age limit on the role. In a move that raised eyebrows across the profession, the JAC said that only candidates 65-years-old and younger would now be considered, quickly scuppering the chances of both Lady Justice Hallett and Sir Brian Leveson (67).

Elsewhere in his post, Rozenberg speculated that Sir David Lloyd Jones — who was apparently a favourite for the LCJ job — “is now expected to go to the Supreme Court.” A former Cambridge fellow, Jones was appointed as a High Court judge in 2005 and Lord Justice of Appeal seven years later.

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