Dame Sue Carr Appointed as the First Ever Women Lord Chief Justice in England and Wales
The first female Chief Justice of England and Wales has been announced by King Charles, ending a 755-year wait for the first woman to hold the post.
Lady Justice of Appeal - Dame Sue Carr, is set to succeed Lord Burnett in the role in October 2023. She took silk in 2003 and became a High Court judge a decade ago.
Carr (58) resigned as the senior Judicial Commissioner on the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) in January to apply for the post and was selected from an all-female shortlist, including Dame Victoria Sharp, 67, the King’s Bench Division President.
She was appointed following the recommendation of a selection panel which included Helen Pitcher, chair of the JAC, Supreme Court justice Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Justice Edis, and two other JAC members.
She completed her education from Wycombe Abbey school and graduated in law at Trinity College, Cambridge. She was called to the Bar in 1987, specializing in general commercial law, and was made a QC, aged 38, in 2003.
Her judicial career began in 2009 in crime, when she became a recorder (part-time judge). She was appointed to the High Court, Queen’s Bench division in 2013.
Additionally, she is the first female High Court judge to sit in the technology and construction Court and the second to sit in the Commercial Court. She also sat on the investigatory power’s tribunal between 2014 and 2016. She was appointed as a Lady Justice of Appeal in 2020.
She is expected to serve at least four years in post, during which she will lead ongoing courts modernisation, a process delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk KC, and the Chair of the Bar Council, Nick Vineall KC, welcomed her appointment.
Vineall commented, “We very much look forward to working with her on the many challenges facing the courts and wider justice sector.”
He also thanked Burnett, who will retire in September, for his close engagement with the Bar throughout his tenure.
Law Society President Lubna Shuja commented, “This is a historic moment, and I hope it will lead to further progress on women’s representation within the judiciary.”
She added, “Only around a third of judges in our courts are women, with even fewer in the senior judiciary. We need to see this improve. This momentous appointment is a sign that times are changing.”