Lord Mance defies predictions to be named Supreme Court deputy president

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By Katie King on

Succeeds law student favourite Lady Hale

Lord Mance

Lord Mance, until recently one of the least familiar faces on the Supreme Court bench, has been named its new deputy president.

Succeeding newly-announced president Lady Hale, Mance’s short spell as deputy will officially begin on 2 October 2017, but will end by his statutory retirement date next June. The 74-year-old has described his promotion as a “privilege”, adding:

I look forward to playing my part in the leadership of the court and in furthering the collaborative relationships which exist with the president, with the chief executive and within the court generally, as well as to promoting the Court’s role and activities both as an established institution in our national life and internationally.

Oxbridge grad Mance’s elevation may come as a surprise to many legal pundits, who had predicted another Supreme Court justice would be made deputy pres.

At the end of July, top judge Lord Reed gave the lead judgment in a unanimous case scrapping employment tribunal fees. Lawyers weren’t simply jumping for joy over the ‘justice for all’ judgment, but shedding tears over Reed’s ruling:

This led to speculation he’d secure the promotion, not colleague Mance:

Regardless, the legal Twitterati appears to have welcomed today’s news with open arms. King’s College London academic James Lee, for example, described the judge as “an excellent servant to the administration of justice”.

Mance began his legal education after making the switch from a history degree to a law degree at Oxford. Unlike predecessor Hale, whose background is in academia, he spent time in a law firm in Germany and then practised at the commercial bar. He chaired various Banking Appeals Tribunals during his career, and was a founder director of the Bar Mutual Indemnity Insurance Fund.

Lord Mance, centre, papped by Legal Cheek at a constitutional law debate at Middle Temple

Mance — who is married to Lady Justice Arden — became a Supreme Court justice in 2009, and has sat on various high-profile cases including Miller and Nicklinson. The latter case, he said in a 2015 interview, “was particularly interesting as it examined the relationship between this court and parliament”.

That same interview with the UK Supreme Court Blog appears to unveil some of Mance’s thoughts on the EU. He said:

If there are any disadvantages of European membership, you have to remember the benefits of accepting collaboration in a mutually interconnected world. I think there is considerable mutual respect and certainly on the continent of Europe I am always conscious of how much the UK is wanted as an active participant and is respected in legal terms.

Hale, a firm favourite in law student circles, said on Mance’s appointment: “I am sure that together we shall make a great team.”

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