Kathryn Thirlwall

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Lady Justice Thirlwall

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Lady Justice of Appeal
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1957-11-21) 21 November 1957 (age 61)
Alma materUniversity of Bristol
Northumbria University

Dame Kathryn [Kate] Mary Thirlwall, DBE (born 21 November 1957), styled The Rt Hon Lady Justice Thirlwall, is an English judge of the Court of Appeal, and since October 2017 is the Deputy Senior Presiding Judge.[1] She practised as a barrister from 1982, was a High Court judge from April 2010, and was promoted to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in February 2017.[2]

Thirlwall was educated at St Anthony's Girls' Catholic Academy in Sunderland, and at the University of Bristol, and studied for the Common Professional Examination at Newcastle Polytechnic.[3]

She was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1982. She specialised in local authority education and abuse litigation. She became a QC in 1999, and served on the Professional Standards Committee of the Bar Council from 1999 to 2005. She became head of chambers at 7 Bedford Row in 2006, and a bencher of Middle Temple in 2008.[4]

Thirlwall was appointed as an assistant recorder in 1998 and then as a recorder in 2000. She was appointed as a High Court judge in April 2010, assigned to the Queen's Bench Division, and received the customary damehood. She was Presiding Judge of the Midlands Circuit from 2011 to 2015.[5][6] She was promoted to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in February 2017.[7]

She is married to Professor Charles Kelly; they have two children, James & Rosalind Kelly.


  1. ^ https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/announcements/appointment-of-deputy-senior-presiding-judge/
  2. ^ "Senior judiciary". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  3. ^ ‘THIRLWALL, Hon. Dame Kathryn (Mary)’, Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014
  4. ^ Masters of the Bench - The Hon Mrs Justice Thirlwall DBE, Middle Temple
  5. ^ 2017: Alumni lecture: Rt Hon Justice Thirlwall, University of Bristol Law School
  6. ^ Appointment of Lord and Lady Justices of Appeal: September 2016, gov.uk
  7. ^ Solicitors to judges, The Times, 15 September 2016