John Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd

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The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd
Official portrait Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd crop 2, 2022.jpg
Thomas in 2022
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
In office
1 October 2013 – 1 October 2017
Nominated byChris Grayling
Appointed byElizabeth II
Preceded byThe Lord Judge
Succeeded byThe Lord Burnett of Maldon
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 75)
Wales, United Kingdom
Alma mater

Roger John Laugharne Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, 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 to 1966.[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 to 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]

Promotion to Lord Chief Justice[edit]

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.

Other affiliations[edit]

He was appointed by the Government of Wales in September 2017 to chair a Commission on Justice in Wales.[11] Commissioners were appointed in November 2017. The commission undertook a review of the justice system in Wales (for December 2017 - October 2019) and published its report in October 2019. The report "set a long term vision for the future of justice in Wales".[12][13]

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.

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.[14]

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

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]


Coat of arms of John Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd
Thomas Lord ARMS.jpg
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 30 October 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. ^ "First Minister establishes a Commission on Justice in Wales". Welsh Government. Welsh Government. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  12. ^ "The Commission on Justice in Wales". Welsh Government. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Executive Committee".
  14. ^ "Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd appointed University Chancellor". Aberystwyth University. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
Legal offices
Preceded by Lord Chief Justice
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by President of Aberystwyth University
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd
Followed by
The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux