Thomas Bingham, Baron Bingham of Cornhill
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Bingham
|Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary|
6 June 2000 – 30 September 2008
|Preceded by||The Lord Browne-Wilkinson|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers|
|14th Lord Chief Justice
of England and Wales
4 June 1996 – 6 June 2000
|Preceded by||The Lord Taylor of Gosforth|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Woolf|
|Master of the Rolls|
1 October 1992 – 4 June 1996
|Preceded by||The Lord Donaldson of Lymington|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Woolf|
13 October 1933|
Marylebone, London, UK
|Died||11 September 2010
Boughrood, Powys, Wales
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth née Loxley (now The Lady Bingham of Cornhill)|
|Relations||Viscount Downe (via wife)|
|Children||The Hon. Mrs Norman (Katie)
The Hon. Harry Bingham
The Hon. Kit Bingham
|Alma mater||Balliol College, Oxford|
|Religion||Church of England|
Thomas Henry Bingham, Baron Bingham of Cornhill, KG PC QC (13 October 1933 – 11 September 2010), was an eminent British judge and jurist. He served in the United Kingdom's highest judicial offices as Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and as a Senior Law Lord.
After retiring from the judiciary in 2008, Lord Bingham focused on teaching and lecturing in Human Rights Law. His book on the The Rule of Law was published in 2010 and won the 2011 Orwell Prize for Literature. The British Institute of International and Comparative Law named the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in his honour in 2010.
Bingham was born in Marylebone, London. His parents, Thomas Henry Bingham (1901-1980) and Catherine (née Watterson) (1902–1989) practised as doctors in Reigate, Surrey. His father was born in Belfast; his mother was from California before being raised on the Isle of Man.
He was educated at The Hawthorns prep school at Bletchingley, Surrey, where he was Head Boy, and then from 1947 the Cumbrian public school Sedbergh School (Winder House), where he was described as the "brightest boy in a hundred years". He enjoyed history, took up fell walking, and developed a strong attachment with the Church of England; he was a Head of House and a School Prefect. He won an open scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, but first completed national service as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Ulster Rifles from 1952 to 1954, serving in Hong Kong. He enjoyed his service in the Army, and considered a military career.
He went up to Oxford in 1954 and initially studied philosophy, politics, and economics, but after two terms switched to history. He won a Coolidge Pathfinder Award and spent the summer of 1955 in the US. He joined Gray's Inn during his second year at Oxford, with a view to becoming a barrister. He was elected President of Balliol Junior Common Room in his third year, standing as an independent without the endorsement of a political party. He won the Gibbs Prize for Modern History in 1957, and was awarded first-class honours in his finals. One minor blemish was his failure to win a prize fellowship at All Souls College. After graduation, he read for the Bar as Eldon Law Scholar and came top of Bar finals in 1959.
He married Elizabeth Loxley in 1963, of the Loxley family of Northchurch, Hertfordshire; they had one daughter Catherine Elizabeth (Kate, born 1965) and two sons Thomas Henry (Harry, born 1967) and Christopher Toby (Kit, born 1969). Their only daughter, the Hon. Kate Bingham, is married to Dr Jesse Norman MP since 1992. Lord and Lady Bingham had acquired, in 1965, a dilapidated cottage at Cornhill, near Boughrood in Powys, where he died in 2010.
Bingham was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, and was a pupil barrister under Judge Owen Stable QC in the chambers of Leslie Scarman at 2 Crown Office Row, which later moved to Fountain Court Chambers. Within a few months, he was invited to become a tenant at the chambers.
He took silk in 1972, thereby becoming a Queen's Counsel aged just 38, the youngest that year, having been standing junior counsel to the Department of Employment for four years from 1968. He was counsel to the judicial inquiry into an explosion at a chemical plant at Flixborough in 1974 which killed 28 people. In 1977, when still at the Bar, he rose to public attention when he was appointed by then Foreign Secretary David Owen to head a public inquiry into alleged breaches of United Nations sanctions by oil companies in Southern Rhodesia.
He was appointed a Recorder in 1975, and became a Bencher of Gray's Inn in 1978. He became a High Court judge in the Queen’s Bench Division in April 1980, aged 46; he was assigned to the Commercial Court, and received the customary appointment as Knight Bachelor. He was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 1986, joining the Privy Council. In 1991 he led a high profile inquiry into the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
Senior judicial career
Bingham succeeded Lord Donaldson as Master of the Rolls in 1992 and initiated significant reforms, including a move towards the replacement of certain oral hearings in major civil cases and he was one of the first senior judges to give public support to incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into English Law, which ultimately came about with the passing of the Human Rights Act 1998. Despite his lack of experience in criminal law, Bingham was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in 1996, following Lord Taylor of Gosforth. In England and Wales, he was the highest-ranking judge in regular courtroom service; he was personally responsible for adding "and Wales" to the office's title.
He was created a Life Peer as Baron Bingham of Cornhill, of Boughrood in the County of Powys, on 4 June 1996, enabling him to serve on the House of Lords Judicial Committee. He continued as Lord Chief Justice until 2000, when was appointed Senior Law Lord. Previously, the position had been held by the longest-serving Law Lord, but Lord Irvine decided that a more dynamic leader was required. Bingham was succeeded as Lord Chief Justice by Lord Woolf, who had in turn succeeded Bingham in 1996 as Master of the Rolls.
Bingham was a strong advocate for divorcing the judicial branch of the House of Lords from its legislative functions by setting up a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which was accomplished under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The title of the office he then held was redesignated as "President of the Supreme Court" upon that court's establishment in October 2009, but after Lord Bingham had retired in July 2008; he is said to have been "very sorry" not to serve as its inaugural President.
He oversaw an increasing workload of constitutional matters after the Scottish devolution, and human rights matters after the Human Rights Act came into force, and assembled the first nine-judge panels for important cases since 1910, including the Belmarsh Case in December 2004 which reviewed the regime for indefinite detention of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism who could not be deported due to the risk of torture in their home countries, holding that the regime breached the Human Rights Act. He was one of two Law Lords to dissent against the decision to overturn High Court and the Court of Appeal decisions to quash an Order-in-Council, which sought to remove the right of the Chagos Islanders to return home. He also presided in a series of decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which held that death penalties in Belize, St Lucia, St Kitts and the Bahamas were unconstitutional.
Lord Bingham was awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law honoris causa by the University of Oxford in 1994. From 2001 to 2008, Bingham held the office of High Steward of the University of Oxford, its second highest office in the academic hierarchy, and in 2003 he came second to Chris Patten in the election for Chancellor. Bingham was also the Visitor of Balliol College, Oxford from 1986 to 2010.
Bingham served on the Advisory Council on Public Records, the Magna Carta Trust, and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. He was a Trustee of the Pilgrim Trust for 15 years and an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy from 2003.
In 2005, he was advanced from Knight Bachelor to Knight of the Garter, an honour in the personal gift of the Sovereign and one rarely conferred on judges (Sir Ninian Stephen, formerly an Australian High Court Justice and Governor-General of Australia – a present KG – and Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone, Lord Chancellor for 1970–74 and 1979–87, a former recipient). Bingham was installed as a Garter Knight along with Lady Soames and Sir John Major. Additionally, he was the President and Chairman of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, which established in 2010 the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in his honour.
On Thursday 16 November 2006, Bingham delivered the sixth annual Sir David Williams Lecture hosted by the Centre for Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge; this lecture was entitled "The Rule of Law".
On 17 January 2008, Bingham presented the annual Hansard Lecture at the University of Southampton. On 14 March 2008, Bingham received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree honoris causa from the University of Rome III, after delivering the Lectio Magistralis at the Faculty of Law entitled "The Rule of Law".
Bingham remained active in retirement. On 17 November 2008, in his first major speech since retiring as Senior Law Lord, Bingham, addressing the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, disputed the legality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US, the UK and other countries. He said that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was "a serious violation of international law", and he accused Britain and the US of acting like a "world vigilante".
In June 2009, Bingham was interviewed by the celebrated British legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg on the subject of the rule of law in international affairs, which was conducted to raise awareness of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. Lord Bingham's thoughts on this subject, in particular the banning of certain weapons in international conflict, were covered by newspapers The Independent ("Top judge: use of drones intolerable") and The Daily Telegraph ("Unmanned drones could be banned, says senior judge"). Bingham gave another interview on the Rule of Law and matters pertaining to the British constitution with the charity, the Constitution Society.
Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, Lord Bingham died the following year. He is buried at St Cynog's Church, Boughrood: a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey on 25 May 2011 which ended with the Adamant New Orleans Marching Band playing When the Saints Go Marching In.
|This article is part of the series: Courts of England and Wales|
|Law of England and Wales|
- High Court
- Bank of Tokyo Ltd v Karoon  AC 45n, piercing the corporate veil
- Court of Appeal
- Attia v British Gas Plc  QB 304, expanding the scope of psychiatric injury to relate to property
- Al-Kandari v JR Brown & Co  QB 665, no duty of care owed by a solicitor to the client's adversary
- R v Secretary of State, ex parte Factortame Ltd (No 1) (22 March 1989) part of the Factortame saga establishing the principle of EU law supremacy where the UK has delegated sovereignty under the treaties
- Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd  QB 433, the more onerous a contractual term the more candid notice must be to qualify as reasonable
- The Aramis  1 Lloyd’s Rep 213, the test for an implied contractual obligation is that it is necessary to reflect the business parties' expectations
- Blackpool & Fylde Aero Club v Blackpool Borough Council  1 WLR 1195, an implied contractual duty to consider tender offers arose on the facts to reflect the intentions objectively manifested by the parties
- Court of Appeal (as the Master of the Rolls)
- Caparo Industries plc v Dickman  2 AC 605, the leading tort case on the duty of care
- Hyundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd v Gesuri Chartering Co Ltd or The Peonia  1 Lloyd’s Rep 100, damages for late delivery of shipping goods are the difference between the market and the charter rate
- Pitt v PHH Asset Management Ltd  1 WLR 327, lockout agreements are enforceable
- Ex Parte Unilever, an administrative law case concerning judicial review stating "the categories of unfairness are not closed, and precedent should act as a guide not a cage"
- White Arrow Express Ltd v Lamey’s Distribution Ltd  Trading Law Reports 69, remarks on non-pecuniary losses
- House of Lords
- Lubbe v Cape Plc  1 WLR 1545, conflict of laws and sidestepping the corporate veil for tort victims
- Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd  2 AC 127, qualified privilege
- Director General of Fair Trading v First National Bank plc  UKHL 52, test of good faith in unfair contract term cases (not breached here)
- Dextra Bank & Trust Company Limited v Bank of Jamaica  UKPC 50
- Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd  UKHL 22, material increase in risk test of causation for victims of asbestos related torts
- Transco plc v Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council  UKHL 61, the firm affirmation of Rylands v Fletcher strict liability for nuisance in English law
- HIH Casualty and General Insurance Ltd v Chase Manhattan Bank  UKHL 6, exclusion of liability for fraudulent misrepresentation in English law
- R v G  UKHL 50, abolishing Caldwell recklessness
- Chester v Afshar  UKHL 41, a patient's right to be fully informed about the risks involved in a medical procedure
- A and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 56, illegality of indefinite detention
- Doe v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 26, freedom of conscience
- R v Wang  1 WLR 661,  UKHL 9,  1 All ER 782,  2 Cr App R 8, 'there are no circumstances in which a judge is entitled to direct a jury to return a verdict of guilty'
- Jackson v Attorney General  UKHL 56, challenge to the fox hunting ban using the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949
- R (Begum) v Governors of Denbigh High School  UKHL 15, no right to wear any religious dress regardless of a well consulted school uniform policy
- Kay v Lambeth London Borough Council (2006), on evictions
- Golden Strait Corporation v Nippon Yusen Kubishka Kaisha  UKHL 12, measure of damages for breach of contract
- R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2)  UKHL 61
- R v Davis  UKHL 36, anonymity of witness evidence
In 2010, shortly before Lord Bingham died, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law established The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, a body solely dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of the rule of law worldwide.
In 2013, the barristers' chambers Thomas Bingham Chambers were named in his honour.
In an interview on 7 February 2014, Lord Phillips, successor to Lord Bingham as Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, remarked that "…Tom Bingham was the most wonderful man, he was head and shoulders above everybody else in the Law in my view…yes just outstanding…his clarity of thought, his academic knowledge. I think almost everyone would say that he was, you know, the great lawyer of his generation".
- Mosley, Charles (ed.) (2003). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 107th edn. London: Burke's Peerage & Gentry Ltd. p. 376 (BINGHAM OF CORNHILL, LP). ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
- Intelligent Life, March/April 2012
- Sands, Philippe (11 September 2010). "Lord Bingham of Cornhill obituary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- The London Gazette: . 7 June 1996.
- Gibb, Frances (20 November 2007). "Human rights in the bus queue". The Times (London). Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- The London Gazette: . 25 April 2005.
- Verkaik, Robert; Editor, Legal (6 July 2009). "Top judge: 'use of drones intolerable'". The Independent (London). Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- Wardrop, Murray (6 July 2009). "Unmanned drones could be banned, says senior judge". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- Flood, Alison (17 May 2011). "Orwell Prize goes to Tom Bingham". The Guardian Blogs (London). Retrieved 18 May 2011.
- An Interview with Nicholas, Lord Phillips - 2014, 7.2.14; at 1 hour 31 mins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhWAZZWkOGQ
- Iraq war 'violated rule of law BBC NEWS
- Stephen Sedley, ‘Bingham, Thomas Henry , Baron Bingham of Cornhill (1933–2010)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2014 accessed 10 July 2014
- Tom Bingham interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 31 March 2009 (film)
- 'Notable judgements of Lord Bingham', Chambers Student Guide 2011
- 'British Institute of International and Comparative Law'
- 'Thomas Bingham Chambers'
The Lord Donaldson of Lymington
|Master of the Rolls
The Lord Woolf
The Lord Taylor of Gosforth
|Lord Chief Justice
The Lord Woolf
The Lord Browne-Wilkinson
|Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers