Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

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"Lord Chief Justice" redirects here. For the head of the judiciary of Northern Ireland, see Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
The Judiciary of England and Wales
Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, 2013.png
Incumbent
The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd

since 1 October 2013
Style The Right Honourable
Nominator Judicial Appointments Commission
Appointer UK Monarch on recommendation of Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, who are in turn given recommendations by a selection panel.
Formation 1 November 1875

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the head of the judiciary and President of the Courts of England and Wales. Historically, he was the second-highest judge of the Courts of England and Wales, after the Lord Chancellor, but became the top judge as a result of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which removed the judicial functions from the office of Lord Chancellor and altered the duties of the Lord Chief Justice and changed the relationship between the two offices. The Lord Chief Justice is also President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal.

The Lord Chief Justice's equivalent in Scotland is the Lord President of the Court of Session, who also holds the post of Lord Justice-General in the High Court of Justiciary.

The current Lord Chief Justice is Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who took over the role on 1 October 2013.

History[edit]

Originally, each of the three high common law courts, the King's Bench, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Court of the Exchequer, had its own chief justice: the Lord Chief Justice, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer. Although the Court of the King's (or Queen's) Bench had existed since 1234, the title of chief justice was not used until 1268. In the intermediary period, one of the justices would be considered the senior judge, and hold a position similar to that later held by the chief justice. The three courts became divisions of the High Court in 1875, and following the deaths of the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chief Baron, the Chief Justice of Common Pleas creating a single Lord Chief Justice of England.

The suffix "and Wales", now found in statutes and elsewhere, was unilaterally appended by Lord Bingham between 1996 and 2000. There is also a Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.

Constitutional Reform Act 2005[edit]

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (CRA) made the Lord Chief Justice the President of the Courts of England and Wales, vesting the office with many of the powers formerly held by the Lord Chancellor. While the Lord Chief Justice retains the role of President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal, the CRA separated the role of President of the Queen's Bench Division. The first Lord Chief Justice to act as head of the judiciary under the provisions of the CRA was Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. The CRA also provides that the Lord Chief Justice is chosen by a specially appointed committee convened by the Judicial Appointments Commission.

Lord Chief Justices of England, King's (Queen's) Bench, to 1875[edit]

Chief Justice From Until Remarks
William de Raley 1234 1239
Sir Stephen de Segrave 1239 1241
William of York 1241 1247
Henry of Bath 1249 1251
Sir Gilbert of Seagrave 1251 1253
Henry of Bath 1253 1260
Sir William of Wilton 1261 1263
Nicholas de Turri 1265 1267
Sir Robert de Briwes 1268 6 November 1269
Richard of Staines 6 November 1269 1273
Martin of Littlebury 1273 1274
Ralph de Hengham 1274 1290
Gilbert de Thornton 1290 1296
Sir Roger le Brabazon 1296 March 1316
Sir William Inge March 1316 15 June 1317
Sir Henry le Scrope 15 June 1317 September 1323
Hervey de Stanton September 1323 21 March 1324
Sir Geoffrey le Scrope 21 March 1324 1 May 1329
Sir Robert de Malberthorp 1 May 1329 28 October 1329
Sir Henry le Scrope 28 October 1329 19 December 1330
Sir Geoffrey le Scrope 19 December 1330 28 March 1332
Sir Richard de Willoughby 28 March 1332 20 September 1332
Sir Geoffrey le Scrope 20 September 1332 10 September 1333
Sir Richard de Willoughby 10 September 1333 1337
Sir Geoffrey le Scrope 1337 October 1338
Sir Richard de Willoughby October 1338 21 July 1340
Sir Robert Parning 21 July 1340 8 January 1341
Sir William Scott 8 January 1341 26 November 1346
Sir William de Thorpe 26 November 1346 26 October 1350
Sir William de Shareshull 26 October 1350 24 May 1361
Sir Henry Green 24 May 1361 29 October 1365
Sir John Knyvet 29 October 1365 15 July 1372
Sir John de Cavendish 15 July 1372 14 June 1381 murdered in the Peasants' Revolt
Sir Robert Tresilian 22 June 1381 17 November 1387
Sir Walter de Cloptone 31 January 1388 21 October 1400
Sir William Gascoigne 15 November 1400 29 March 1413
Sir William Hankeford 29 March 1413 12 December 1423
Sir William Cheyne 21 January 1424 20 January 1439
Sir John Juyn 20 January 1439 24 March 1440
Sir John Hody 13 April 1440 25 January 1442
Sir John Fortescue 25 January 1442 13 May 1461
Sir John Markham 13 May 1461 23 January 1469
Sir Thomas Billing 23 January 1469 5 May 1481
Sir William Hussey 7 May 1481 8 September 1495
Sir John Fineux 24 November 1495 23 January 1526
Sir John Fitz-James 23 January 1526 21 January 1539
Sir Edward Montagu 21 January 1539 9 November 1545
Sir Richard Lyster 9 November 1545 21 March 1552
Sir Roger Cholmeley 21 March 1552 4 October 1553
Sir Thomas Bromley 4 October 1553 11 June 1555
Sir William Portman 11 June 1555 8 May 1557
Sir Edward Saunders 8 May 1557 22 January 1559
Sir Robert Catlyn 22 January 1559 8 November 1574
Sir Christopher Wray 8 November 1574 2 June 1592
Sir John Popham 2 June 1592 25 June 1607
Sir Thomas Fleming 25 June 1607 25 October 1613
Sir Edward Coke 25 October 1613 16 November 1616
Sir Henry Montagu 16 November 1616 29 January 1621
Sir James Ley 29 January 1621 26 January 1625
Sir Ranulph Crewe 26 January 1625 5 February 1627
Sir Nicholas Hyde 5 February 1627 24 October 1631
Sir Thomas Richardson 24 October 1631 4 February 1635 died in office
Sir John Brampston 14 April 1635 31 October 1642
Sir Robert Heath 31 October 1642 October 1645
Sir Henry Rolle 12 October 1648 15 June 1655
John Glynne 15 June 1655 17 January 1660 Knighted in 1660
Sir Richard Newdigate 17 January 1660 1 October 1660
Sir Robert Foster 21 October 1660 4 October 1663 First Chief Justice after the Restoration; died in office
Sir Robert Hyde 19 October 1663 1 May 1665 Died in office
Sir John Kelynge 21 November 1665 9 May 1671 Died in office
Sir Matthew Hale 18 May 1671 20 February 1676 Formerly Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer 1660–1671
Sir Richard Raynsford 12 April 1676 31 May 1678
Sir William Scroggs 31 May 1678 11 April 1681
Sir Francis Pemberton 11 April 1681 28 September 1683 Later Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1683
Sir George Jeffreys 28 September 1683 23 October 1685 Baron Jefffreys 1685; Lord Chancellor 1685–1688
Sir Edward Herbert 23 October 1685 22 April 1687 Later Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1687–1689
Sir Robert Wright 22 April 1687 17 April 1689 Briefly Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in April 1687
Sir John Holt 17 April 1689 5 March 1710 Died in office
Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield 11 March 1710 15 May 1718 Baron Parker from 1714; Regent of Great Britain from 1 August to 18 September 1714; later Lord Chancellor 1718–1725 and Earl of Macclesfield from 1721; impeached for corruption in 1725
Sir John Pratt 15 May 1718 24 February 1725 Interim Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1721
Robert Raymond, 1st Baron Raymond 2 March 1725 31 October 1733 Previously Attorney General 1720–1724; Baron Raymond from 1731; died in office
Philip Yorke, 1st Baron Hardwicke 31 October 1733 8 June 1737 Previously Attorney General 1724–1733; Baron Hardwicke from 1733; later Lord Chancellor 1737–1756 and Earl of Hardwicke from 1754
Sir William Lee 8 June 1737 8 April 1754 Interim Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1754; died in office
Sir Dudley Ryder 2 May 1754 25 May 1756 Previously Attorney General 1737–1754; died in office
William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield 8 November 1756 4 June 1788 Previously Attorney General 1754–1756; Baron Mansfield from 1756; Earl of Mansfield from 1776; Lord Speaker in 1783
Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon 4 June 1788 4 April 1802 Previously Attorney General 1782–1783 1783–1784 and Master of the Rolls 1784–1788; Baron Kenyon from 1788; died in office
Edward Law, 1st Baron Ellenborough 11 April 1802 2 November 1818 Previously Attorney General 1801–1802; Baron Ellenborough from 1802
Charles Abbott, 1st Baron Tenterden 2 November 1818 4 November 1832 Baron Tenterden from 1827; interim Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1827; died in office
Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman 4 November 1832 5 March 1850 Previously Attorney General 1830–1832; Baron Denman from 1834; interim Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1834
John Campbell, 1st Baron Campbell of St Andrews 5 March 1850 24 June 1859 Previously Attorney General 1834 and 1835–1841; ennobled as Baron Campbell when Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1841; later Lord Chancellor 1859–1861
Sir Alexander Cockburn, Bt 24 June 1859 1 November 1875 Knighted 1850; previously Attorney General 1851–1852 1852–1856 and Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1856–1859; 12th Baronet from 1858; Queen Victoria refused to make him a peer in 1864 as "this peerage has been more than once previously refused upon the ground of the notoriously bad moral character of the Chief Justice"

Lord Chief Justices of England (later England and Wales) 1875–present[edit]

Lord Chief Justice From Until Remarks
Sir Alexander Cockburn, Bt 1 November 1875 20 November 1880 died in office
John Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge 29 November 1880 14 June 1894 Previously Attorney General 1871–1873 and Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1873–1880; Baron Coleridge from 1874; died in office
Lord Russell of Killowen 11 July 1894 10 August 1900 Previously Attorney General 1886 1892–1894; Baron Russell of Killowen from 1894; first Catholic Lord Chief Justice; died in office
Richard Webster, 1st Viscount Alverstone 24 October 1900 21 October 1913 Previously Attorney-General 1885–1886 1886–1892 1895–1900 and Master of the Rolls in 1900; Baron Alverstone from 1900; in retirement, Viscount Alverstone from 1913
Rufus Isaacs, 1st Earl of Reading 21 October 1913 8 March 1921 Previously Attorney General 1910–1913; Baron Reading from 1914; Viscount Reading from 1916; Earl of Reading from 1917; later Viceroy of India 1921–1925 and Marquess of Reading from 1926; first Jewish Lord Chief Justice
Alfred Lawrence, 1st Baron Trevethin 15 April 1921 2 March 1922 Baron Trevethin from August 1921
Gordon Hewart, Baron Hewart 8 March 1922 12 October 1940 Previously Attorney General 1919–1922; Baron Hewart from 1922; in retirement Viscount Hewart from 1940
Thomas Inskip, 1st Viscount Caldecote 14 October 1940 23 January 1946 Previously Attorney General 1928–1929 and 1932–1936 and Lord Chancellor 1939–1940; Viscount Caldecote from 1939
Rayner Goddard, Baron Goddard 23 January 1946 29 September 1958 Previously a law lord, Baron Goddard, from 1944
Hubert Parker, Baron Parker of Waddington 29 September 1958 20 April 1971 Baron Parker of Waddington from 1958
John Widgery, Baron Widgery 20 April 1971 15 April 1980 Baron Widgery from 1971
Geoffrey Lane, Baron Lane 15 April 1980 27 April 1992 Previously a law lord, Baron Lane, from 1979
Peter Taylor, Baron Taylor of Gosforth 27 April 1992 4 June 1996 Baron Taylor of Gosforth from 1992
Tom Bingham, Baron Bingham of Cornhill 4 June 1996 6 June 2000 Baron Bingham of Cornhill from 1996; first Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales; Master of the Rolls 1992–1996; Senior Law Lord 2000–2008;
Harry Woolf, Baron Woolf 6 June 2000 30 September 2005 Previously a law lord, Baron Woolf, from 1992; Master of the Rolls from 1996–2000
Nicholas Phillips, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers 30 September 2005 1 October 2008 Previously a law lord, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers, from 1999; Master of the Rolls 2000–2005; later Senior Law Lord 2008–2009 and President of the Supreme Court 2009–2012
Igor Judge, Baron Judge 1 October 2008 30 September 2013
John Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd 1 October 2013 Incumbent

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Campbell, John (1874), Lives of the Chief Justices of England, in four volumes (two additional volumes were a "Continuation by Sir Joseph Arnould – Late Judge of the High Court of Bombay"), 3rd ed. London, John Murray 1874.