QBD head Sir John Thomas named as Lord Chief Justice

Sir John Thomas, currently president of the Queen’s Bench Division, has been named as Lord Chief Justice, succeeding Lord Justice Judge.

The appointment was confirmed today (16 July) by 10 Downing Street.

lord justice thomas
Lord Justice Thomas

Lord Justice Thomas practised commercial law and took silk in 1984. He became a High Court judge in 1996 and a Court of Appeal justice in 2003. He served as senior presiding judge for England and Wales between 2003 and 2006, and as vice-president of the Queen’s Bench division between 2008 and October 2011. He was then named president of the division.

The appointment takes effect on 30 September 2013, when Judge LCJ retires (21 November 2012). Judge LCJ was also Queen’s Bench president immediately prior to assuming the role of Lord Chief Justice in 2008 (8 July 2008).

Thomas LJ’s appointment was recommended by an independent selection panel chaired by Christopher Stephens, chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). The other panel members were Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, Dame Valerie Strachan, lay member of the JAC, Professor Noel Lloyd, member of the JAC, and Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls.

The appointment was formally made by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor, justice secretary Chris Grayling.

In a statement Judge LCJ thanked the selection panel for “the painstaking care which has been taken to analyse and assess an enormous body of material bearing on their recommendation”.

Thomas LJ added that it was “a privilege and an honour” to succeed Judge LJ. ”He has made not only an outstanding contribution to the development of the law, but has guided the judiciary over the past 5 years through times of great change. He is universally admired for his deep commitment to justice, the independence of the judiciary and the outstanding leadership he has given to all judges and magistrates.”

He added that he would endeavour to maintain confidence in the judiciary and its ”high standards of integrity and impartiality”. Thomas LJ also pledged that the judiciary would “play a constructive role in its relationships with Government, Parliament and the media, but with the tensions that are inevitable in maintaining the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of individuals.”