Pioneering judge Lady Hale is set to be appointed to become president of the Supreme Court from October following the retirement of Lord Neuberger next month, the prime minister’s office has confirmed. The government also the appointment of three new justices.  

News of Hale’s appointment as the first female in the role has already been welcomed by lawyers and academics.

Hales was appointed deputy president of the Supreme Court in June 2013. She was the first woman appointed to the court on its creation in 2009, five years after becoming the first - and only - woman Lord of Appeal. Earlier this year she appeared alongside television and stage stars in a play The Disappearance of Miss Bebb, celebrating the legal challenge which led to women being admitted to the roll of solicitors. 

Brenda Hale, a Cambridge graduate, was called to the bar in 1969. She taught law at Manchester University from 1966 to 1984 and later practised at the Manchester Bar. She was founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, and also authored a case book on ‘The Family, Law and Society’.

The advertisement for the presidency sought someone ‘not only with truly exceptional legal understanding, stature and expertise but also with the communication and leadership skills to lead the court through an increasingly complex judicial and constitutional environment’.

Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg tipped Hale as a ‘racing certainty’ for the position, although she must retire from the Supreme Court by the end of 2019. She will be joined on the Supreme Court bench by: Lady Justice Black, replacing the late Lord Toulson; Lord Justice Lloyd Jones on the retirement next month of Lord Clarke and Lord Justice Briggs on the retirement of Lord Neuberger. 

Law Society president Joe Egan commented: ’I am delighted to congratulate Lady Hale on her appointment as president of the Supreme Court. Not only does she have an outstanding legal mind, she has also campaigned for greater judicial diversity tirelessly and with good humour for many years.”

’We need judges who have demonstrated legal excellence throughout their careers, just as we also - crucially - need judges from diverse backgrounds to oversee some of the most important and significant cases that shape our laws.

’There are still far fewer women than men in the judiciary, but - thanks in large part to role models like Lady Hale - the number is growing steadily. With Lady Hale as their inspiration, I hope more women - and others from diverse backgrounds - will feel that the legal profession is one in which they can realise their ambitions.’

In other appointments, HM Judiciary announced the appintment of Mrs Justice Asplin as lady justice of appeal and the following as lord justices of appeal: Mr Justice Coulson, Mr Justice Holroyde, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, Mr Justice Leggatt, Mr Justice Newey and Mr Justice Singh. All seven are former barristers.