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Scottish judge Lord Reed to replace Hale as Supreme Court president

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As country’s top bench gains three new faces

Lord Reed

Lord Reed has been unveiled as the new president of the Supreme Court, filling the biggest shoes in law as the Beyoncé of the legal profession steps down.

As predicted by Joshua Rozenberg for Legal Cheek, the Scottish judge won the race to succeed Lady Hale when she retires in January 2020.

Reed had set out his stall for the top job with three public speeches so far this year — more than any other justice bar Hale herself.

He was also the author of the 2017 judgment declaring employment tribunal fees illegal, which was lauded by lawyers for its inspiring paean to the rule of law and access to justice. Reed wrote:

“Without such access, laws are liable to become a dead letter, the work done by Parliament may be rendered nugatory, and the democratic election of Members of Parliament may become a meaningless charade. That is why the courts do not merely provide a public service like any other.”

Reed was already Hale’s deputy, and is well used to being in the public eye. He recently revealed that muckraking journalists had gone through the social media accounts of the justices’ family members ahead of their decision in the Gina Miller case.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

The court also unveiled three brand new justices today — all men educated at Oxbridge and then Harvard in the United States.

Left to right: Lord Justice Hamblen, Lord Justice Leggatt and Sir Andrew Burrows (credit: The Supreme Court)

Former shipping lawyer Sir Nicholas Hamblen will be joined by fellow Court of Appeal judge Sir George Leggatt — both are experts in commercial law. The wild card is Professor Andrew Burrows, an Oxford academic who has written 19 books on tort, contract and unjust enrichment.

Hamblen and Burrows studied law at Oxford, while Leggatt opted for philosophy at Cambridge. All three picked up an LLM at Harvard before launching their legal careers. The appointments mean that only two of the 12 justices will be female.

Lady Hale said “I am delighted to welcome the appointments of three new justices, all of whom are distinguished in their fields, and who will join the Court during 2020. I congratulate Lord Justice Hamblen, Lord Justice Leggatt and Professor Burrows, and am confident that they will contribute to the success of the Court greatly.”

Hamblen, Leggatt and Burrows will join the top court as justices on 13 January, 21 April and 2 June 2020 respectively.

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55 Comments

Anonymous

“The appointments mean that only two of the 12 justices will be female.“

No-one cares.

Anonymous

Yikes!

You're A

Snowflake

Anonymous

Had enough tokenism for a while at least.

Soy Boy

I care! I do! I so care!

You notice me ladies? I really, really, really care.

Ladies?

Ladies!!!!

Anonymous

LLMs at Harvard

£100,000 fees to you and me

The arms race in this profession is absurd

Anonymous

It makes you wonder whether it’s worth it

Anonymous

Their LLMs were all free.

Random passer-by

They got scholarships, and most of the young barristers at top commercial chambers with Harvard/NYU LLMs got a Fulbright, Kennedy, Global Hauser or some other form of prestigious full scholarship. These guys (and girls) are really the best.

Wee Jock McTavish LL.B (Edinburgh)

Aye!

And aboot time tooo!

Anonymous

Finally. Some normal decent appointments.

Anonymous

As opposed to …?

Anonymous

Lady Hale

Anonymous

Professor Burrows is a brilliant appointment. For an academic of such achievement, he is remarkably down to earth and will communicate the law superbly. A mould-breaking appointment and a very wise one.

Anonymous

A mistake to appoint a non-practitioner. He might be an excellent academic, but that does not mean he will be a good judge.

The court of Pie Powders

Burrows has practiced, they don’t usually give out QC Honoris Causa just to anyone who does law. He does a lot of advisory work like many private law barristers (many of whom never set foot in court . He has also sat as a deputy high court judge for several years

Anonymous

He has practised very little. Hon QC, rather than substantive Silk, was awarded to him precisely because of that and on account of his academic achievements. He has also sat infrequently as a judge. In short, he has spent his life as an academic lawyer.

Anonymous

And? An academic lawyer is perfectly well suited to the Supreme Court. They don’t have to hear witnesses or resolve issues of fact.

Anonymous

You could make the same misconceived argument in relation to the court of appeal. In an appellate capacity, a judge needs a mastery of court process, including an understanding of the dynamic of fact finding. Plus, being a judge is very different from being in private practice or academia. You need to be good at judgecraft. (Recent appointments of academics have not been that successful. Beatson was highly regarded as Rouse Ball Professor at Cambridge and, on an intellectual level, might have been expected to get to the Supreme Court, but he never cut it sufficiently as a judge; likewise with Cranston, who stayed at High Court level despite being an authority on banking law and professor at the LSE.) Plenty of successful QCs are hopeless on the Bench, too. By the same token, some judges are excellent at first instance and and a disappointment at appellate level. That is why years in a permanent appointment is usually a requirement for senior judicial roles, so as to determine what you are best at doing. Parachuting someone straight into the Supreme Court is a risky vanity project.

Anonymous

Looking at some recent decisions, the CoA could do with some appointments from outside of practise to bring more balance.

Anonymous

The naysayers are too rigid in their approach to this. When Paul Finn was appointed the the Federal Court of Australia, he reckoned he hadn’t set foot in a courtroom for 25 years, let alone sat as a judge. What a great appointment that proved to be. Burrows will be the same.

Anonymous

The new Beyonce.

Chris

You seem to have a love in with Hales.

Anonymous

Who’s “Hales”?

Anonymous

Surprised by Leggatt LJ’s appointment. That was a rapid ascent up the judicial ladder: 2013 High Court > 2019 Supreme Court.

Anonymous

Leggatt is a brilliant judge.

Anonymous

He’s very pleased with himself.

Anonymous

What an unnecessary and petty remark. Also, why wouldn’t he be pleased with himself? He’s brilliant.

Anonymous

Ladies, gather round. Behold my massive intellect.

JDP

I am told it is difficult to handle my great intelligence. A curse I begrudging carry.

Aaron

“You’re not the only one cursed with knowledge”
If you know you know

Anonymous

Quite right that Supreme Court judges should be Oxbridge. Only the cleverest people should be in the highest court and the cleverest people are Oxbridge graduates.

Reed should not be President. He is only in the Supreme Court on an ex officio basis: there have to be 2 Scottish judges, and such people would never be appointed if they had to compete with English judicial candidates.

Anonymous

Such people as Scots, you mean to say? Good grief…

Anonymous

Jings crivens!

Anonymous

It is the courts of England and Wales after all. who knows what those savages above the boarder practice. Voodoo? Witchcraft?

Anonymous

Tosh

Anonymous

Feed went to Oxford too. He is sound. A certain class of Scot prefers to do an Edinburgh degree first then come to England.

Anonymous

You are only Oxbridge if you went to Oxford or Cambridge as an undergraduate.

Reed is not, therefore, Oxbridge.

linksnq

Typical fanboy fetishisation of Oxbridge on LC. Plenty of mediocre minds at Oxbridge; plenty of outstanding minds at other UK Ancient universities and redbricks (though there’s more of a mix at the latter – *average* Oxbridge student will be better)

NB – for reasons both cultural and financial, the overwhelming majority of the most academically high-achieving Scottish students go to Glasgow or Edinburgh and don’t even consider Oxbridge at undergrad level

Anonymous

You only go to Edinburgh or Glasgow if you are intellectually second rate.

Anonymous

1.45, not if you you come from the true Scottish Establishment. Less than half of their best go to Oxford first. Most go to Edinburgh for their first degree then go onto Oxbridge.

Anonymous

The brightest Scottish people go straight to Oxford or Cambridge.

Infrastructure chap

You should ignore them. The same trolls spout the same stuff on every article. We know Oxbridge is better, we also know it is more complicated than that. Kids on here spew the same snobbish nonsense behind anonymity, then will suck up to clients who don’t even have degrees for work (I say this as a construction solicitor in an industry where many of the top dogs don’t have degrees and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone in industry with an Oxbridge/Redbrick degree outside of maybe the CFO or the GC).

Lemmetellya it’s English judges wot’s the best bruv

This point about ex officio members is such utter, utter garbage – Lord Reed had to compete on merit with English judges for the presidency. Or perhaps you’re suggesting the process was rigged?

#rigged #lockhimup #rahrahpifflepafflewifflewaffle #engurland #landofhopeaneglory

Anonymous

Reed was only in the Supreme Court in the first place on an ex officio basis.

Engurrland Strikes Back

@7.49pm – Yes, precisely! You (along with 10 others, and counting) clearly aren’t sharp enough to realise that you’re scoring an own goal with this point: the quality of English judges must be very poor indeed if they’re drawn from a much larger population and still lose out to someone ‘only’ selected on an ex officio basis…

Love a pwn

@7.49pm

Engurrrrland just **** all over yo faaaaace

Anonymous

Reed is by definition not as good as the English judges, because he is only in the court ex officio. And he got the Presidency simply because of political correctness. The notion he could compete on any level with the English judges is laughable.

Anonymous

Quite. Scots lawyers are second rate practitioners in a Mickey Mouse jurisdiction.

Magna Carta Duvet Cover Club

Ahhhaha political correctness – of course! Give me a break. We’re not in the US – judicial appointments have nothing to do with politics.

10/10 for trying to turn this into a “political correctness gone mad” thing, though – that’s classic little Englander stuff.

Magna Carta Duvet Cover Club

Ahhhaha political correctness – of course! Give me a break. We’re not in the US – judicial appointments have nothing to do with politics.

10/10 for trying to turn this into a “political correctness gone mad” thing, though – that’s classic little Englander stuff.

Anonymous

>tfw your Edinburgh law degree was free and your Oxbridge educated colleagues are saddled with student debt

Anonymous

So long as they will find a way to extradite Julian Assange, but that they would have found General Pinochet too ill to stand trial, they will be par for the course.

Would anyone be surprised if their stance on Assange swung it ?

Anonymous

I think that it would be untenable for Lady Hale to still be there to hear any potential appeal from Julian Assange at the Supreme Court re Extradition. The reasoning in her dissent in Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority ([2012] UKSC 22) regarding eligible organisations which had the right to apply for EAWs in the UK was so faulty from any possible objective and reasonable interpretation of the law that it reveals an inherent fundamental personal ‘bias’ of her as a UKSC judge in general.

Anonymous

More like proof of her lack of brainpower.

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