Donald Nicholls, Baron Nicholls of Birkenhead

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Second Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
1 October 2002 – 10 January 2007
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by The Lord Slynn of Hadley
Succeeded by The Lord Hoffmann
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
3 October 1994 – 10 January 2007
Preceded by The Lord Templeman
Succeeded by The Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
Personal details
Born (1933-01-25) 25 January 1933 (age 85)
United Kingdom
Alma mater Liverpool University
Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Occupation Judge

Donald James Nicholls, Baron Nicholls of Birkenhead, PC (born 25 January 1933),[1] is a British lawyer and retired Law Lord (Lord of Appeal in Ordinary).


Nicholls was educated at Birkenhead School, before reading Law at Liverpool University and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was called to the bar in 1958 as a member of the Middle Temple, becoming a Queen's Counsel in 1974. He was made a High Court judge on 30 September 1983,[2] receiving the customary knighthood. On 10 February 1986, he was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal[3] and subsequently appointed to the Privy Council. He became Vice-Chancellor of the Supreme Court on 1 October 1991.[4] He was appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary on 3 October 1994 and consequently created a life peer as Baron Nicholls of Birkenhead, of Stoke d'Abernon in the County of Surrey.[5]

In 1998, Nicholls and the other Law Lords came to the international fore in deciding whether Augusto Pinochet could be extradited to Spain. Three lords, including Nicholls, rejected the argument that Pinochet was immune from arrest and prosecution for his acts as Head of State in Chile. They said the State Immunity Act 1978 flouted a battery of international legislation on human rights abuses to which Britain is a signatory, and secondly, it would have meant endorsing the arguments of Pinochet's legal team that British law would have protected even Adolf Hitler. Nicholls said,

He became Second Senior Law Lord on 1 October 2002,[6] and retired in 2007, succeeded by Lord Hoffmann.

From 1998 to 2004, he was a Non-Permanent Judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.[7]

He retired from the membership of the House of Lords on 3 April 2017.[8]



  • Lord Nicholls, 'Trustees and their broader community: where duty, morality and ethics converge’ (1995) 9(3) Trusts Law International 71

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2014. Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, a former Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, 79
  2. ^ "No. 49499". The London Gazette. 5 October 1983. p. 13005.
  3. ^ "No. 50430". The London Gazette. 13 February 1986. p. 2085.
  4. ^ "No. 52677". The London Gazette. 4 October 1991. p. 15091.
  5. ^ "No. 53811". The London Gazette. 6 October 1994. p. 14001.
  6. ^ "No. 56712". The London Gazette. 4 October 2002. p. 11976.
  7. ^ 'Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal - Former Judges - The Right Honourable The Lord NICHOLLS of Birkenhead' <> accessed 3 June 2016
  8. ^ "Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead". UK Parliament. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Nicolas Browne-Wilkinson
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Scott