Lady Hale ‘not easy to deal with’, says ex-colleague

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Others suggest she was treated ‘more harshly’ than the men and held back from court president role

Lady Hale and Lord Hope

The diaries of a former Supreme Court judge have offered an insight into what it was like working with Lady Hale — famously nicknamed the ‘Beyonce of the law’ by Legal Cheek readers

The personal records kept by former Supreme Court deputy president Lord Hope, brought to wider attention this week by legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg, reveal that when Hale first went for Supreme Court president in 2012 she faced off against Lords Neuberger and Mance.

Hope reportedly wrote that while eventual winner Neuberger would be “a real pleasure to work with”, Hale’s strong views on feminism seemed to put her on the “defensive for much of the time” — something, Hope claims, which counted against her when she first applied for promotion.

The revelations have sparked criticism from top Blackstone Chambers barrister Dinah Rose QC. Writing on Twitter she described Rozenberg’s column, published in the Law Society Gazette, in which he quotes from the latest volume of Lord Hope’s diaries, as a “pretty clear illustration of the way the senior judges held [Hale] back.”

Rose added that Hale “was much more harshly judged” than male colleagues.

Hope’s words are notably strong. In another extract from his diary, about when Hale applied to be deputy president in 2013, he claimed that “Brenda is not easy to deal with, frightens some people and is so relentless in her pursuit of her agenda about women”.

Hale got the deputy job all the same, outshining Mance at interview. Hope also records her as saying: “I am world famous”. She became president in 2017 (the first woman to hold the role) and served for just over two years before hitting compulsory retirement age.

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Hope does go on to acknowledge that these “tense moments” were not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, writing:

“One of the great merits of the court is the trust in and respect for each other which we enjoy. There are some tense moments with Brenda, of course, but she is not at all untrustworthy or unreliable. She is just confrontational and sharp when she senses an inefficiency or a gender issue which the rest of us do not understand. Those brief moments take nothing away from the immense contribution which she makes to the work of the court.”

Also fighting Hale’s corner on Twitter, lawyer Cenric Clement-Evans described Hale as one of the “outstanding judges of her time”, while another commenter claimed “the only person who comes out badly from this is Hope”.

Hale, who said while on the bench that “I have never hesitated to call myself a feminist”, has spoken for many years about the importance of including female perspectives in the law. She also gave speeches on things like the gender pay gap and recruiting more women judges.

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It’s true. Being an ardent feminist as a lawyer, judge or a law professor puts people off. You cannot even be seen to challenge the feminist agenda or narrative these people impose on everyone else. It’s axiomatic that they are right and this fuels the imposition.

People need to speak up against the over-statement of gender issues, or these people will never be fact-checked nor feel the need to constrain their claims to those which are provable.


Second Seat Trainee

What utter tripe. If being an advocate for the disenfranchised and the oppressed (yes, shock horror) ‘puts people off’ then they aren’t the sorts of people who should be working in positions of power, anyway.

Lady Hale has been brilliant, and is a fiercely intelligent woman. It’s clear her path to her position hasn’t been easy. She more than anyone, will have a qualified view of what it is like to work as a woman in her position, but of course ‘anonymous’ on Legal Cheek at 3:56pm, clearly knows best.



Bore off SJW.


Second Seat Trainee

There is clearly a reason, for your extinction.



The issue is of over-identifying instances of disenfranchisement, as has been suggested by Lord Hope with Lady Hale. That’s not to criticise Lady Hale’s prodigious juristic abilities nor her knowledge of the female bar.

If we don’t challenge the feminist agenda, thereby accepting all feminist claims without challenge, we are making the feminists (and ourselves) intellectually lazy.

In the academic community (of which I am a part), there is hardly a legal phenomenon which is not cited as evidence of patriarchal dominance. It really is ridiculous.



An example is the response to Lord Hope’s criticism. It is not Lady Hale’s uncompromising character that is at fault. No, it’s the patriarchy which dictates we hold women to different standards and hence we are much too harsh on Lady Hale.

This is not to say there are not trends or pockets of misogyny. But they’re not under every up-turned rock.



What is interesting is that just because some people are playing the patriarchy card, you are automatically disregarding that as a viable possibility. Yes, pockets of misogyny are not under every rock; but they might be under this one. Maybe it is her uncompromising character, maybe it is misogyny. Just as Second Seat Trainee is taking one side (perhaps unjustified), you are clearly taking the other (again perhaps unjustified).

When it comes to “challenging” feminism, why does the challenging opinion always win in the views of some people – why can’t we instead actually look at the facts and circumstances (to the extent possible within our limited experience) to come to a balanced view?

Second Seat Trainee

For a self-professed member of the ‘academic community’, I’m surprised (not really) that your vitriol for the supposed ‘feminist agenda’ also hasn’t been challenged, considering we live in what is indisputably a patriarchy.

Touting yourself as ‘concerned’ about academic laziness, is humorous considering we’re now in an age that has for the first time, truly questioned our societal structure and what it stands for. The true academic ‘laziness’ is refusing to implore an ideology outside of the one that has been pushed for decades, if not centuries, because it makes you uncomfortable or because it threatens the foundations of your beliefs and ultimately, your existence.



I think your display of ad hominem and hostility is the very reason people sit there quietly nodding when outlandish feminist claims are made in the academic community.

Second seat trainee fan

Second seat trainee is the first person on here that I am convinced is a lawyer when claiming to be. The eloquence and authenticity of their writing is enough to convince me they are when they say they are. Keep it up 👏👌🏼

Second Seat Trainee Fan Too

Yes, clowns are brilliant

Second seat trainee fan too

Yeah, they’re beyond parody.

Well behaved women rarely make history

Feminism is not “accepted without challenge”. It is constantly explicitly challenged. Additionally, the concept of equality between genders and/or sexes is challenged 24/7 by Societal structures. The fact you think feminism is something that should be challenged (that it’s acceptable to oppose, or optional, like a political party) shows how entrenched the default patriarchy is – any questioning of the status quo gets an immediate defensive backlash.



They are just as anonymous as you are



She has no brain and exists as a means of placating the hard-left social justice warriors who otherwise could not accept learned judges sitting in judgment.

Of course she is difficult to deal with for any normal human being.



Thanks for explaining, Oh Wise One. You, on the other hand, have a massive brain, right?



What’s your existential purpose? Posting comments on a legal cheek article?

That’s so cool, you’ve officially made it, you must be SO smart! Lady Hale is super jealous!!



She could have been as hard-Left as she wanted, in private, and when she actually retired… what she was not entitled to do was to impart and transplant her own personal politics and political views into her professional judicial and juridical work in the UKSC (when she should have remained impartial and free of ‘bias’), which she did, absolutely, such as back in 2012 in her dissent in the Assange case.


Not a fan

She was there to support the rule of law. Not to promote an ideology.



Unfortunately, this does actually tell us about Lady Hale’s real problem which is her persistent cultivation of a personal brand. No-one outside the legal profession has any idea who Lord Hope is, much less what he thinks about things. And this is how it ought to be. He is a judge, not a reality tv contestant.

Having strong personal opinions is fine in private life and in many public professions. For Judges, it is different because it fractures the illusion of impartiality. Lady Hale has gone out of her way many, many times to make her opinions as public as possible.

Unfortunately, this is something that moves both ways. Political judges means political appointments are not far behind. Roll on Lord Antonin Scalia.



Hale is gauche and chippy and was overpromoted.


Little Miss Gauche

The biggest thing being chipped here is your sense of entitlement as you realise that your privileges are not going to make you more successful than a state educated woman from (shocker!) the North. Slowly, talent and hard work is beginning to be judged (literally) as more valuable than inherited privilege, and you must realise by now that you’re going to get left behind.



Its fine for a judge to be genuinely interested in gender equality and to tackle misogyny where it exists. But it becomes problematic if it is the case that the ‘equality’ is actually favouring one gender over the other rather than genuine equality, e.g. only to highlight discrimination against women (even where in some cases it doesn’t exist), but never to highlight discrimination against men and the substantial pockets of misandry which exist within the legal profession and the wider world.



One of her most well known Supreme Court judgments was a dissent supporting a man getting his fair share in a divorce.



Fair enough, is there a link to the judgement. Are there any examples of Hale speaking out against discrimination against men in the legal profession? (not saying there isn’t, just I’m not aware of any).


Not a Hale fan

Her judgements in important cases are woeful and at odds with right thinking society.



I was going to be a pedant and correct your spelling to ‘judgments’ but decided not to.



Just as well – it would have looked as if you had no argument against the actual point they were making.



A judges role is to determine what the law is, not what it should be. It’s fine if she wants to promote feminism but not in the courtroom. If the law is somehow unfair towards women, then that is a matter for parliament- the elected representatives of the people. A judge has no right to push their political beliefs on the public by interpreting the law creatively so it fits their beliefs.



If something goes to a judge, it means there is ambiguity or room for interpretation. The judge’s role is to determine what was intended and what should lead to a fair outcome.



I don’t know… if Parliament is sovereign, then Parliament should then be entitled, if not the political courage, to just override, overrule and rebuke the courts directly, ‘every now and then’, if the judges seriously step out of the line and venture too much into the political realm.

Parliamentary sovereignty and an ‘absolutely independent judiciary’ independent from even Parliament are constitutionally fundamentally incompatible.



One very ‘biased’, dangerous, political judge, influenced more by the Guardian, and in particular, the cartoons of Steve Bell at the back of G2, rather than the law books on the shelf.

Her dissent in the Julian Assange case in 2012 would suggest she went out of her way, ‘clutching at straws’, in order to reason as to why Julian Assange should not have been required to answer a few simple questions in Sweden.

She, in 2012, ‘reasoned’ that the UK Parliament was somehow entitled to implicitly/impliedly set aside superior EU Law notwithstanding of the 1972 ECA, and then to make laws to unilaterally deem invalid in the UK, in England (E.W.), a Swedish EAW issued by the Swedish Prosecution Authority, because it was not issued by a judicature, or a juridical body or authority (a court).


Grumpy old sod

Slightly off topic but does anyone else feel tired of this ‘Beyoncé of Law’ nickname? It somehow manages to diminish both of them as well as generally sounding dim. Both are incredibly successful women at the top of their respective (but wildly different) fields, and I don’t see why this comparison needs to exist at all.



Only coined and used by people who think that the IHRC is an actual human rights organisation…

Someone whose private and personal political thoughts mirror that of Steve Bell (and by extension George Galloway, Chris Williamson, etc, etc… ) is by definition dim, no matter how brilliant her legal mind supposedly otherwise was (and there is plenty of evidence that she allowed one to influence another… i.e., ‘bias’, partial, favour).

Her various dissent over the years was basically the means by which for her to vent her own extrajudicial private and personal political views. She probably thought that not enough people would be able to/be bothered to read (and be able to decipher and understand) them, that what those ‘dissent’ really meant.



I can’t believe the number of commenters implying that questions of politics and policy have no place in the reasoning and judgments of the UKSC.

The UKSC, and the HoL before it, has always been influenced by more than ‘the law’. The notion that Lady Hale is the first, and only, political supreme court judge that the court has ever endured is fanciful.

Perhaps those commenting to this effect should refresh themselves with the GCHQ case – which established modern judicial review but which was ultimately decided wrongly for reasons of political expediency.



You might have a point if you were Philip Dykes of the Hong Kong Bar, but over in HERE England, the whole ‘modern judicial review’ is now something completely out of control.

Hale dissident in the Chagos Islands cases… I mean, who were actually speaking, was it Brenda, or was it Brenda ‘joined by’ Jeremy, George Galloway, Chris Williamson, Steve Bell?



Parliament should just explicitly overturn and abolish the whole GCHQ case (which was itself a form of political mischief of the early 1980s), and EVERY other subsequent case law developed from there, and then (preferably in that particular order) work on something a bit more politically sensible.

The GCHQ case basically meant “Parliament is sovereign… only if we learned, eminent Judges agree”.



What was the case?



‘Modern judicial review’, whereby ANYTHING and EVERYTHING the Government does is now basically reviewable, is surely now politically untenable, wouldn’t (even) you have to agree with me on this point?



Wouldn’t who have to agree with you?


You have been subscribing to Private Eye when Paul Foot was still alive and kicking (and when John Pilger was still a household name), I can tell!

Unfortunately for you, the world has long moved on.




We don’t speak Spanish in the English courts, not in England anyway…


… Unless, that is, you have had Chemo for ‘bowel complaints’ a couple of years ago and now need a RADAR key… if that is what you actually meant!


We’re not in an English court.


For the purpose of this particular discussion, it might just as well that we are…

Now, better sober up… you are supposed to have Nil-by-Mouth (except water and sugar) AT LEAST the last 48 hours before the doctor put the tube in through either of your ends!

I did both a couple of years ago well below the age of 35, and naturally (as a teetotaler) given an all clear on both scores… I suspect, you will NOT be so lucky!




Do you need the KEY for the disabled toilet… is that what you mean?!

Bowel Cancer, eh?!




I think you should just try TENA Men (or the pub next door to the Magistrates), old duffer, instead of keeping shouting for the K-E-Y !








Hmmm why not just put rich male barristers who went to Eton and Oxford straight into the Supreme Court?
No real eyebrows raised at that eh?



There was quite a few raised at that, eh. You are saying that Hale shouldn’t have made it to the Supreme Court.



No… see her dissident in the Chagos cases. Her private, personal and extrajudicial political opinions about the ‘plight’ (supposed) of the Chagos Islanders belong in the Socialist Worker, the Morning Star, Private Eye, the Guardian, Russia Today and Press TV, not in HOL or UKSC judgments, be it the main part or the dissent.

She thinks she is John Pilger.



* Dissent… the Flu affects everyone, it would seem.



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