Potential successors emerge as Lord Chief Justice confirms retirement

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge has announced he will retire next September, with his replacement set to be named in early 2013.

The announcement was made today (21 November) after Lord Judge wrote to the Lord Chancellor informing him of his decision.

He will step down after nearly five years in the role, having first been appointed in October 2008 when he replaced recently retired Supreme Court president Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers.

Candidates expected to be in the running to replace Lord Judge include: Court of Appeal judge Lady Justice Hallett; Lord Justice Hughes, the vice-president of the criminal division; Queen’s Bench Division (QBD) president Lord Justice Thomas; and Lord Justice Leveson, the head of the sentencing council for England and Wales who recently oversaw the high-profile Leveson Inquiry into media standards.

Prior to becoming Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge was the first president of the QBD when he was appointed in 2005. He has also previously held the position of senior presiding judge for England and Wales.

Matrix Chambers’ Hugh Tomlinson QC said: “The Lord Chief Justice role is an extremely demanding job. Under the Constitutional Reform Act the Lord Chief Justice is now the President of the Courts of England and Wales and Head of the Judiciary. Lord Judge has performed this difficult and demanding job with great distinction.

“His successor needs to be someone who can provide leadership for the whole judiciary and who is able to serve at least five years. Now that the retirement age has been reduced to 70, the pool of candidates is reduced. Whoever is chosen, Lord Judge will be a hard act to follow.”

The news comes after a number of high-profile changes at the judiciary this autumn, with former Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger replacing Phillips as Supreme Court president in October, while Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson has succeeded Neuberger.

For more, see Neuberger sworn in as new Supreme Court president.