The first female judge in the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale, has made history again by becoming the first woman to be named deputy president of the top court.
Supreme Court Justice Baroness Hale will succeed Lord Hope SCJ, who is will to stand down later this week (28 June).
Hale said: “It is an honour and a privilege to have been chosen to follow Lord Hope, who has made such a success of the role in the transition from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court. I look forward to continuing and building upon the work which he has done to establish this great new institution in our national life.”
The appointment was welcomed by Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, who in the past has spoken out about the number of women on the bench. In 2011, while serving as Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberer SCJ, told the House of Lords committee on judicial diversity: “It seems unfair that in a profession where more than 50 per cent are women, that at the top we have such a small proportion of women. Why are 80/90 per cent of our judges male? It seems that on statistical grounds we don’t have the best people.”
Of Lady Hale SCJ, Lord Neuberger SCJ said: “Throughout [her] time she has made significant contribution to the development of the law in many areas, particularly in family and mental health. She has also done much to promote the importance of diversity in the judiciary. I look forward to working closely with her.”
Having occupied many of the judiciary’s first female appointments, Baroness Hale has often been outspoken on women’s issues and the legal sector’s evident failure to hire talented women into senior positions.
Lady Hale explained why she felt gender diversity in the judiciary is so important in an address to Norton Rose’s InterLaw Diversity Forum in October 2011 (17 October 2011), stating: “It’s just the eccentricities of men that are rubbing up against one another, and we need the eccentricities of rather more women as well. We should have a true diversity of minds at the highest level.
She continued: “There are still too many systemic barriers to recognising the merit that so many women have – a trickle up to the top is just not going to work.”
Hale was called to the bar in 1969 and appointed a recorder and took silk in 1989. She was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission in 1984.
In 1994 she became a judge in the family courts and became the second woman to be appointed to the Court of Appeal, entering the Privy Council at the same time.
In January 2004 she was made a life peer as Baroness Hale of Richmond, of Easby, North Yorkshire.
The role of deputy president involves working alongside the president to oversee the judicial work of the court, liaising closely with chief executive who manages the court’s administration and undertaking engagements to promote understanding of the role of the judiciary and senior appellate courts in the UK, as well as fostering international relationships.