Brenda Hale is known for championing a diverse judiciary
An expert in family law, she has pursued a ground-breaking legal career
The UK Supreme Court on Friday appointed its first female president, Brenda Hale, making her the first woman to be the most senior judge in the country.
Hale, an expert in family law who has been the court’s deputy president since June 2013, will succeed Lord David Neuberger as its head in October, following his retirement.
Hale said it was a “great honour and a challenge” to follow Neuberger, according to a Supreme Court news release.
“I look forward to building upon his pioneering achievements, including developing closer links with each part of the United Kingdom, for example by sitting outside London, and improving the ways in which we communicate our work to the public,” she said.
“Recent high-profile cases mean that more people than ever before have heard of the Supreme Court, and we hope that this will help to create a broader understanding of how the judiciary serves society.”
‘Intellect and humanity’
Hale has long been a pioneer in the legal sphere.
In 1984, she was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission, and 20 years later she became the UK’s first Law Lord. In 2009, she became the first woman to sit on the newly formed Supreme Court.
Neuberger welcomed her appointment as his successor, saying he had seen “at first hand the intellect and humanity with which she approaches the appeals which come before her, as well as her commitment to the rule of law, legal education and building public understanding of the work of the courts.”
It was a “fitting pinnacle to a truly ground-breaking career,” he added, according to the Supreme Court news release.
The chairman of the Bar Council, Andrew Langdon, said Hale had “long been at the forefront in the task of arguing for a properly diverse judiciary. Her appointment will serve as an encouragement to all in showing how important this is.”
The Law Society also welcomed the news via Twitter.
Rights Info, a digital human rights campaign group, celebrated Hale as a prominent champion of diversity in the judiciary and supporter of human rights protections.
Hale’s promotion was announced at the same time as Lady Justice Jill Black was named as only the second woman to sit on the UK Supreme Court.
She and two other new justices, Lord Justice David Lloyd Jones and Lord Justice Michael Briggs, will join the court on October 2, when Hale will also be formally sworn in.