Farewell Lord Neuberger! Supreme Court judge hangs up robes as his right-hand woman takes over

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By Katie King on

Lady Hale will be first female president

Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger is officially retiring from his justice post today, allowing Lady Hale to take his place.

Neuberger has enjoyed five years in the top judicial role. In that time he’s heard some of the most important cases of recent history (Miller, Nicklinson, etc), and saw the Supreme Court sit outside of London for the first time ever. He has delighted readers with his admitted love of Jay Z, though perhaps irked some when he, an Oxford chemistry grad, said science is harder than law. But this summer saw Neuberger enjoy perhaps his finest moment of all: an interview with Legal Cheek.

The 69-year-old will be remembered as a well-liked, personable president who kept calm in the face of Brexit pressure and oversaw great leaps in the Supreme Court’s openness and transparency (what other court has an Instagram account?) We’ll be sad to see him go, but with his retirement comes great opportunities for his successor, Hale.

There’s understandable excitement attached to Hale as a symbol of gender progress — she is the country’s first ever female head of the Supreme Court and its predecessor, the House of Lords. But as she officially takes up the presidency today, eyes have begun to turn to what her impact on the law will be.

Some legal commentators are particularly interested in her approach to family law, this being what Hale specialised in during her academic and legal career.

Generally speaking Hale has been credited as a pro-female voice in family law cases, which will likely be welcomed news to soon-to-be appellant Tini Owens.

Owens, 66, will appear before the Supreme Court in a divorce law case that has attracted huge media interest. Owens has been unable to divorce her elderly husband because successive courts have ruled his behaviour is not sufficiently unreasonable to make it divorce-worthy. Her lawyer, 1KBW’s Philip Marshall QC, has told Legal Cheek Owens is “very upset” and “frustrated” with the position she’s found herself in.

Will Hale and colleagues bring an end to her frustration? Leading legal affairs journalist Joshua Rozenberg said: “I hope Hale will soon free Tini from her chains.”

Hale will be official sworn in as the president of the Supreme Court on 2 October. New justices Lady Justice Black, Lord Justice Briggs and Lord Justice Lloyd Jones will start their new jobs on this day too.


Lord Neuberger reveals his biggest regrets [Legal Cheek]

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