Replaces Lord Kerr who retires next month
Lord Stephens has been appointed the newest member of the Supreme Court.
The Justice will join the UK’s top bench on 1 October 2020, it was announced yesterday. He takes the place of Lord Kerr, who is retiring next month. Kerr was the first Supreme to come from Northern Ireland, where Stephens spent a large portion of his career.
Lord Reed, president of the Supreme Court, welcomed the appointment. “It gives me great pleasure to welcome the announcement of Lord Justice Stephens’s appointment as a Justice of the UK Supreme Court,” he said, adding:
“We look forward to his making a significant contribution to the work of the Court and the development of the law, drawing on the extensive experience which he has gained from a distinguished judicial career.”
Stephens was educated at Manchester University. He was called to the bar of Northern Ireland in 1977, and the bar of England and Wales the following year. He was called to the bar of Ireland in 1996, the same year he took silk.
Stephens was a senior member of the government Civil Panel of Counsel from 2004 to 2007. He was appointed a High Court judge in Northern Ireland in 2007, assigned to the Family Division from 2008 and to the Queen’s Bench Division from 2014. During this time he was Hague Convention liaison judge for international cases involving child abduction.
Between 2013 and 2017, Stephens was a judge of the tax and chancery chamber of the Upper Tribunal. Since June 2013 to date he has been a commissioner in the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission, first as a High Court judge and then as a Lord Justice of Appeal. He was appointed Senior Lord Justice of Appeal in September 2017.
The highest court in the land is comprised of 12 judges, 10 men and two women. This year has seen three new additions to the bench. Lord Hamblen was sworn in alongside president Reed earlier this year. Reed replaced Lady Hale, who retired in January. Lord Leggatt and Lord Burrows took up judicial roles in April and June, respectively. They were sworn in virtually amid the coronavirus lockdown.