Three judges appointed to Supreme Court bench

The Queen has approved the latest appointment to the Supreme Court bench with Lord Justices Toulson and Hughes and Lord Hodge being promoted.

The court started its search for three new justices in October, with Supreme Court Justices Lord Dyson becoming Master of the Rolls (MR) earlier this year, Lord Walker retiring in March and Lord Hope, the Scottish representative, retiring in June (16 October 2012).

Lord Hodge will succeed Lord Hope as the Scottish representative. Hodge is an IP judge and sits in the Lands Valuation Appeal Court and a commercial judge. He was admitted to Scotland’s Faculty of Advocates in 1983 and took silk in 1996.

Lord Justice Hughes first joined the High Court bench in 1997 sitting in the family division, having taken silk in 1990. He served as presiding judge on the Midland Circuit from 2000 to 2003 and transferred to the Queen’s Bench Division (QBD) in 2004. He is currently vice-president of the criminal division.

Lord Justice Toulson was called to the bar in 1969 and took silk in 1986. He was appointed to the QBD in 1996 before being appointed to the Court of Appeal in in 2007. He has also served on the Judicial Appointments Commission for England and Wales.

The court was under pressure to diversify the bench, which currently has just one woman, Lady Hale, on its 12-strong judicial panel.

According to reports, the application pack included this statement: “The selection commission is anxious to attract applications from the widest field, and in making recommendations will bear in mind the nature of the court and the way it is likely to develop over the next few years.”

As no further departures are expected until 2018 it was seen as an opportunity to embrace inclusivity.

In 2009 then Lord Chancellor Jack Straw commissioned Baroness Neuberger to look into the issues surrounding judicial diversity. She concluded a year later that: “Judges drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences will bring varying perspectives to bear on critical legal issues. A judiciary which is visibly more reflective of society will enhance public confidence.”

Delivering the Kutton Menon Memorial Lecture earlier this month, Lady Hale said her fellow Supreme Court Justices “mostly fit the stereotypical pattern of boys’ boarding school, Oxbridge college and the Inns of Court”.

The country’s most senior female judge argued that a degree of positive discrimination was needed when appointing justices. She said: “I too used to be sceptical about the argument that women judges were bound to make a difference, but I have come to agree with those great women judges who think that sometimes, on occasions, we may do so […].

“A different perspective can indeed make a difference, not only on so-called ‘women’s issues’, but on the whole range of legal issues which may come before the courts. Different voices add variety and depth to all decision making. Women judges may think that some of the results are only common sense – which just shows how gendered a concept like common sense can be.”