The Garrick: Posh men-only members club is full of top judges and lawyers

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By Legal Cheek on


Face calls to cancel membership

The Garrick Club, London – credit Ricardalovesmonuments/WikiCommons

A host of top judges and lawyers are reportedly members of The Garrick Club, an exclusive male-only establishment in London.

The Guardian newspaper reports that the clubs membership includes five appellate court judges, eight High Court judges, a number of retired judges, senior solicitors, and around 150 leading barristers.

Supreme Court judge David Richards is said be a member, according to the report, as is Julian Flaux (head of the chancery division), Keith Lindblom (senior president of the tribunals), Andrew Moylan, Peter Coulson, and Charles Haddon-Cave (chair of the independent inquiry on Afghanistan).

Perhaps best known are former Supreme Court heavyweights Jonathan Sumption, and former president, David Neuberger.

In light of the news, a group of some 65 legal professionals, including 13 KCs, has urged judges members to resign from the club with “immediate effect”. The open letter argues that the Garrick Club “embodies a social and gendered ideology that starkly contrasts with the reality of the modern courtroom”.

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It has additionally been reported this week that an opinion produced by Blackstone Chambers super silk David Pannick KC has said that the club does not, by its language used, exclude the admission of women.

In a document commissioned by club members who are seeking to admit women into the establishment, the top silk and his legal team shed some light on the phraseology and wording of the clubs historic documents.

“In our view, the language of the rules is clear. There is no prohibition on the admission of female members”, the opinion reportedly states. “There is nothing in the language of the rules which excludes the admission of women as members. Indeed… there is no restriction of the proposal of candidates for membership to men.”

Discussing the frequent use of “he” throughout the relevant rules, Pannick’s team argue that, “although the language … is phrased by reference to the masculine (‘No candidate shall be eligible unless he be proposed’), it is entirely within the ordinary use of English language that a reference to the masculine denotes the feminine unless the context otherwise requires.”

Law students will be familiar with cases, statutes, and commentators using a single gendered pronoun to describe hypothetical circumstances which could apply to a person of any gender.

And, Pannick adds, whilst there is one example of the use of “he/she” when referring to the club secretary, there is no apparent reason for this, the addition potentially coming at a time when a female secretary was contemplated or in post, or to ensure compliance with employment law. However, “that would not in itself suggest that there is any objective doubt over whether a member can be female by the absence of alternative pronouns”.

This opinion is not the first of its kind commissioned by members. There have been two previous legal opinions, both produced by fellow leading Blackstone barrister Michael Beloff KC. Whilst the first of these in 2011 suggested that the club did exclude women, a more recent opinion in 2022 is reported to have found the opposite.

Readers may recognise Lord Pannick from a host of constitutional and administrative law cases, or as the barrister who was rumoured to be making as much as £5,000 an hour when representing Manchester City last year, with fans displaying a large banner in honour of his work.



So much woke faux offence at work these days. Where were those mortally offended by his when the Women’s Institute has been excluding men for over a century? If they don’t want to mix with women sometimes, let them get on with it.


LegalCheek has done well in generally detoxifying the comments sections but the removal of thumbs up/down does not bode well. Comments like those Alan makes (regularly) can’t be downvoted into oblivion anymore.

Alan I don’t know if you’re a LC rage baiter to gain traction on articles or if you’re genuinely just an obtuse older legal professional who HR keep a watchful eye of during work socials.

Just a Guy

I originally ‘created’ and posted as Alan in a manner that was supposed to represent how Alan Ford’s character in the popular movie ‘Snatch’ would behave if living another life in the legal world. Others started posting as Alan and it has evolved from there. I sometimes disagree with the direction other Alans have taken things but that is life. These characters get adopted and go beyond the control of one individual.


So you are claiming ownership of a popular name? Might I suggest you address the size of your head before posting on a public forum.

Defund alan

Alan go touch some grass


And this effects anybody how?! There are plenty of ladies clubs like this. I never see any uproar. The fellas must be sick of tired of this woke nonsense. I certainly am.


On the off chance that this is a serious question, this affects women because these clubs are where quite a lot of, for lack of a better term, “professional socialising” goes on. If you are a KC up in front of a particular judge, having a friendly clubby relationship with that person cannot but help you, no matter how strictly impartial that judge may endeavour to be. This isn’t an issue at the WI.


This argument is false. Women have more than enough opportunity to socialise with each other professionally. A simple internet search will yield multiple societies aimed at women in every sector.

I’m yet to see a single convincing argument that anyone ought to interfere in the membership policies of a private club. That suggests this is just pure wokeness.


When there are equal numbers of women as men who are both KCs and judges, this argument might have a snowball’s chance in hell of being correct. We are nowhere near there.


And the solution to that is to target a private club, funded by members, which exists on private property? This is leftism at its most extreme and should remain in Stalinist Russia.


I tend to agree. I am also disturbed by the above commenter’s belief that sharing a drink and convo with a judge will somehow impair the latter’s judgement in court. This is not the Soviet Union… in any event, gendered members’ clubs are not the only place where professional socialising takes place. I’m also sure that female barristers have had plenty of opportunities to cozy up to Lady Hale and Lady Arden. This is just another episode of marxist-derived tribalism. ‘If our tribes do not do well, we must bring down the one that does’.


People are allowed to have views. It’s not like the government is targeting the club. Members of the profession are expressing views, and members of the club are expressing theirs, both with respect to the club’s existence and its bylaws. Perfectly democratic in every way.


You are very naive. I think the wokeists stigmatising what people do in their own time, in a free country, where such activities have exactly no bearing on the lives of anyone else causing negative headlines is designed to counteract democracy and cancel this club.


Ah, but the point is precisely that their actions do have a bearing on the lives of others. (As Lady Hale said 11 years ago). People have a perfect right to express their views on the matter, which is the opposite of what happened in the Soviet Union. I am delighted that you consider me naive, as I am certainly old enough to remember the goings-on in that country.

Diane Abbott

So if the club shuts down, it will finally be allowed to reopen once the magic 50% threshold is crossed? Just ludicrous. The profession is gradually diversifying. Shutting this club down will accomplish nothing and is excessive. They’ll still meet up after work at some mansion.
Psst, women lawyers are allowed to do the same and do do so, though not as frequently (their own choice).


The issue is that these views must be moderated as they are dangerous when given by wokeists. Opinions from these people tend to be weaponised to stigmatise those who are simply peacefully going about their business, harming no one. Look at all the headlines in that lefty rag the Guardian, mentioning all the members of the club by name. It’s clear this is not a simple expression of neutral view, but rather a targeted attempt to stigmatise the members, force them to leave and shut the club down so the left can move on to its next temper tantrum. Meanwhile, people are loosing out on doing what they want, peacefully, in their own free time. Is this right? I think not. Simply mentioning a judge’s name without (a) setting out what reasoned view she allegedly made; (b) any evidence to support whatever view she espoused is not a convincing argument to counteract this.


Their “views must be moderated,” eh? Sounds Soviet to me. And you can easily look up what Lady Hale said in 2011 (longer ago than I thought) but just this once I’ll do your research for you: she said that the culture at the club was a key factor in why women did not make the top judicial ranks.

This was because there were ‘too many systemic barriers’ put in place that depended more on ‘personal network relationships’. Some key rulings by the Supreme Court might also have been significantly different had the court included more women, she added. You can look up the rest yourself.

Sir Dongle Wongle

Nothing wrong with clubs like this. If you want clubs to be different, start your own. Don’t try ruin it for others.


Ah, yet another cause célèbre for the liberal upper-middle classes to get affronted about. There is nothing that riles them more than an elite institution which they aren’t a member of.

The irony, of course, is that they have no opposition to elitism per se – they just want to be the elite. At least the elites of yesteryear had some charm and consistency and noblesse oblige – the latter-day wannabe elites of the professional classes are self-important hypocrites who get their trousers in a twist over the membership of a gentleman’s club, but are silent when their law firms represent people like the Post Office or debt collection firms.


Well said.


Who cares??? Not me.


I drive past a gym which states ” WOMEN ONLY” , why does it bother people that the Garrick club exists?

Tired young man

To all the (presumably) old men pretending not to understand what the article is talking about here: having been around mostly men at work most of your life (if you are in the legal profession), and also presumably having had interactions with banking teams etc., are you seriously willing to claim that a ‘boys club’ culture doesn’t objectively make it harder for women to be included properly? I know for a fact that you have seen it. Can you recognise it?
I’m tired of these ridiculous comparisons with women’s gyms and women-only bars, come on.


Please describe your understanding of “boys’ club culture”, and provide an example of a woman being excluded from professional conversations or opportunities because of it. Just trying to be “objective” as you implore…


Ah, the Argument from Incredulity fallacy: pretending that something is so self-evidently true that no-one can disagree (unless they are stupid or acting in bad faith).

Nice sexist and ageist attacks against those people as well.

Fancy trying again?


Why do you presume that there’s such a significant difference between man and woman that an organisation with more men than women inhibits the latter’s ability to prosper but assume they a men and women are so similar that any difference in attainment is owing to discrimination?

Isn’t it just a plain fact that the vast majority of women ( and a majority, albeit smaller ) of men just want to go home after work, read a story to the kids and relax, rather than sit a smoking room slumped by the fire and doze.

Conspiracy nut

And what about the free masons?


I know that at least one female silk on this list is already best mates with a Garrick Club member…sad as sad can get.

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