John Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd

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The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd

Official portrait of Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd crop 2.jpg
Official parliamentary portrait, 2017
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
In office
1 October 2013 – 1 October 2017
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byThe Lord Judge
Succeeded byThe Lord Burnett
President of the Queen's Bench Division
In office
3 October 2011 – 1 October 2013
DeputyDame Heather Hallett
Preceded bySir Anthony May
Succeeded bySir Brian Leveson
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
14 July 2003 – 3 October 2011
Personal details
Born (1947-10-22) 22 October 1947 (age 72)
Wales, United Kingdom
Alma mater

Roger John Laugharne Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Kt, PC (born Carmarthen, 22 October 1947) is a British judge. He served as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2013 to 2017.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas was born in 1947 to Roger Edward Laugharne Thomas and his wife Dinah Agnes Thomas, of Cwmgiedd.[2]

Thomas was educated at Rugby School[2] and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in Law in 1966.[2] He was elected a Fellow of Trinity Hall in 2004.[2] He proceeded to the University of Chicago where he earned a J.D. degree and was a Commonwealth Fellow.[2]

Thomas was an assistant teacher at Mayo College, Ajmer, India, from 1965–66.[2]

Legal career[edit]

Thomas was called to the Bar in 1969 (Gray's Inn). He was elected a Bencher in 1992. He commenced practice in 1972, became a Queen's Counsel in 1984 and was appointed a Recorder in 1987.[1] He practiced as a member of the commercial chambers at 4 Essex Court in the Temple, which in 1994 moved to Lincoln's Inn Fields and has since then been known as Essex Court Chambers.

In 1992 he was appointed by the Department of Trade and Industry as an Inspector into the affairs of Mirror Group Newspapers plc (when it was owned by Robert Maxwell) and its IPO.[2]

On 11 January 1996, he was appointed a High Court judge,[3] receiving the customary knighthood,[4] and was assigned to the Queen's Bench Division, serving on the Commercial Court until his appointment to the Court of Appeal. From 1998-2001 he was a Presiding Judge of the Wales and Chester Circuit. On 14 July 2003, Thomas became a Lord Justice of Appeal[5] and given the customary appointment to the Privy Council later that year. He served as the Senior Presiding Judge from 2003 to 2006, and President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary from 2008 to 2010, having participated in its founding in 2003–2004.[1]

In October 2008, Thomas was appointed Vice-President of the Queen's Bench Division and Deputy Head of Criminal Justice.[6] On 3 October 2011, he succeeded Sir Anthony May as President of the Queen's Bench Division.[7]

On 1 October 2013, Thomas was appointed to succeed Lord Judge as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.[8] On 26 September 2013, it was announced Thomas would become a life peer upon taking office as Lord Chief Justice.[9] He was created a Life Peer on 4 October 2013, taking the title Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, of Cwmgiedd in the County of Powys.[10] Following his introduction, as a serving member of the judiciary he was immediately disqualified from sitting in the House of Lords under section 137(3) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

In October 2016 Thomas was one of the three judges forming the divisional court of the High Court in proceedings concerning the use of the royal prerogative for the issue of notification in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (the Lisbon Treaty) (R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union). His role in this judgment meant that he appeared in an infamous front-cover of the Daily Mail (Enemies of the People).

He retired as Lord Chief Justice in October 2017 and was succeeded by Ian Burnett, Baron Burnett of Maldon.[11]

Other affiliations[edit]

Thomas is one of the Founding Members of the European Law Institute, a non-profit organisation that conducts research, makes recommendations and provides practical guidance in the field of European legal development. He is a member of its Executive Committee.

He returned to Essex Court Chambers in November 2017 and joined the Arbitrators at 24 Lincoln's Inn Fields. He was a founder of the AIDA Reinsurance and Insurance Arbitration Society in 1991 and is its President.

His disqualification from sitting in the House of Lords ceased on his retirement as Lord Chief Justice, he is a member of the EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee and chaired the Middle Level Bill Committee in 2018.

He is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a Fellow of the Universities of Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Swansea and Bangor and an Honorary Doctor of Law of the Universities of South Wales, the West of England, Wales and of Cardiff Metropolitan University. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

He has been Chancellor of Aberystwyth University since January 2018.[12]

He was appointed by the Government of Wales in September 2017 to chair a Commission on Justice in Wales.[13] The other Commissioners were appointed in November 2017. The Commission has wide terms of reference.[14][15][16]

He was appointed Chairman of the Financial Markets Law Committee in November 2017.

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, he married Elizabeth Ann Buchanan, daughter of S J Buchanan of Ohio, US.[2] They have one son and one daughter.[2]

He lists his recreations in Who's Who as gardens, walking and travel.[2]


Thomas Lord ARMS.jpg
Coat of arms of John Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd
Upon a Helm with a Wreath Argent and Vert On a Mount Vert growing therefrom Scarlet Carnations flowering proper a Dragon passant Gules grasping in its dexter foreclaws a Caduceus Or.
Argent a Pale Azure between two Swords palewise points upwards proper hilts and pommels Vert each surrounded by a Chevron Gules.
Dexter a Red Kite Sinister A Cardinal both proper.
Llifed Cyfiawnder Fel Afon Gref (In English: Let justice flow like a strong river).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales – The Rt Hon Lord Thomas". Judiciary of England and Wales. Archived from the original on 14 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Rt Hon Sir (Roger) John Laugharne Thomas, of Cwmgiedd.". Who's Who. A & C Black. 2013.
  3. ^ "No. 54291". The London Gazette. 17 January 1996. p. 747.
  4. ^ "No. 54407". The London Gazette. 24 May 1996. p. 7221.
  5. ^ "No. 57004". The London Gazette. 18 July 2003. p. 8986.
  6. ^ Rozenberg, Joshua (12 October 2012). "A Who's Hughes of the number twos". The Telegraph.
  7. ^ "No. 59931". The London Gazette. 6 October 2011. p. 19091.
  8. ^ "Appointment of the Lord Chief Justice" (Press release). 16 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Peerage for the new Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales". 26 September 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  10. ^ "No. 60649". The London Gazette. 7 October 2013. p. 19679.
  11. ^ "Appointment of new Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales". 14 July 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd appointed University Chancellor". Aberystwyth University. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
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Legal offices
Preceded by
The Lord Judge
Lord Chief Justice
Succeeded by
The Lord Burnett of Maldon
Academic offices
Preceded by
Emyr Jones Parry
President of Aberystwyth University
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord Bamford
Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd
Followed by
The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux