Nathalie Lieven

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Mrs Justice Lieven
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Queen's Counsel
MonarchElizabeth II
Justice of the High Court
Assumed office
11 January 2019
Preceded byMrs Justice Pauffley[1]
Personal details
Born (1964-05-20) 20 May 1964 (age 58)[2]

Dame Nathalie Marie Daniella Lieven DBE, (born 20 May 1964), known as Mrs Justice Lieven, is an English barrister and a Justice of the High Court of England and Wales serving in the Family Division.

Practising law since 1989, in her career as an advocate Lieven specialized in planning and administrative law and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 2006.

Early life[edit]

A member of the English branch of the Lieven family, originally Baltic Germans, Nathalie Lieven was born to Alexander Lieven and Veronica Eileen Mary (née Monahan) Lieven. She is the sister of Elena, Dominic, Anatol, and Michael Lieven.[3] She was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where she graduated BA in 1986, then trained as a barrister at Gray's Inn, London.[4]


Lieven was called to the bar from Gray's Inn in 1989.[4] She joined Landmark Chambers[5] and later Blackstone Chambers and specialized in planning and administrative law,[6] becoming a Queen's Counsel in 2006[7] and ten years later a deputy High Court judge.[1]

Lieven was appointed to the bench of the High Court of Justice on 11 January 2019 and was assigned to the Family Division.[6] She was gazetted a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in December 2019[8] and currently chairs the Pupillage Matched Funding Grants Committee of the Council of the Inns of Court.[9]

Before her appointment as a judge, Lieven commented

"For me Magna Carta is an important part of the UK’s creation myth. Without knowing any of the detail of its provisions or its history, Magna Carta establishes the principle that Kings (or Prime Ministers) are subject to man-made law and to the judges who uphold it... It forms part of our belief in the core values of the UK and the values that the courts will always act to protect."[10]

In 2005, she represented the Family Planning Association, arguing that parents are not necessarily the best people to advise a child on contraception, sexually transmitted infections and abortions—and do not have a right to know if their children under 16 are seeking treatment. In 2011, she represented BPAS, Britain’s largest abortion provider, fighting for abortions-at-home and arguing that women should be allowed to self-administer the second dose of abortion drugs at home.[11]

Lieven served as a councillor for the Labour Party in the Somers Town ward on the Camden London Borough council from 1994 to 1998.[12]

Notable cases[edit]

The Royal Courts of Justice

In June 2019, on the application of a National Health Service Trust in charge of an ante-natal clinic, Mrs Justice Lieven made an order in the Court of Protection for a pregnant Nigerian woman with learning difficulties to have a forced abortion against her wishes, on the grounds that it was in her best interests.[13] She said she was not sure the woman understood what having a baby meant and that "she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll". However, the woman's mother, represented by John McKendrick QC, appealed successfully against this decision to the Court of Appeal.[13] The order was overturned by Lady Justice King, Lord Justice McCombe, and Lord Justice Jackson, with King explaining that "In the end, the evidence taken as a whole was simply not sufficient to justify the profound invasion of AB’s rights represented by the non-consensual termination of this advanced pregnancy."[14]

In January 2020, in a legal battle between Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and the parents of a child on a life support system, Mrs Justice Lieven gave permission for the life support to be withdrawn, having found that the child was "brainstem dead" and therefore had no best interests to consider.[15][16]

In March 2021, Mrs Justice Lieven had to consider whether a transgender teenager with gender dysphoria who wished to continue with puberty-blocking drugs needed the permission of the court to do so. She found that "... the parents' right to consent to treatment on behalf of the child continues even when the child is Gillick competent to make the decision, save where the parents are seeking to override the decision of the child". As the parents and the teenager were in agreement, the treatment was to continue.[17]

Personal life[edit]

In 1995, Lieven married Stewart MacDonald Wright, a fellow barrister.[18][19] They have two children.[20]


  1. ^ a b Mark Wilding, "High Court appoints Nathalie Lieven QC",, 4 January 2019, accessed 13 April 2021
  2. ^ Lieven, Hon. Dame Nathalie Marie Daniella (born 20 May 1964), a Judge of the High Court, Family Division, since 2019,, accessed 13 April 2021 (subscription required)
  3. ^ Joseph Hone, Wicked Little Joe: A Tale of Childhood and Youth (Lilliput Press, 2009), p. 240; Dominic Lieven, Towards the Flame: Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia (2015)
  4. ^ a b Graya: A Magazine for Members of Gray's Inn, Issue 90 (1986), p. 92
  5. ^ "Landmark Chambers",, appointment as director 2007, accessed 13 April 2021
  6. ^ a b David Burrows, "On the appointment of Lieven J to the Family Division",, 11 January 2019, accessed 13 April 2021
  7. ^ High-flying women on new QCs list, The Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2006, accessed 13 April 2021
  8. ^ The London Gazette, Issue 62855, 13 December 2019 (Supplement), p. 144
  9. ^ "Mrs Justice Lieven", profile at, accessed 13 April 2021
  10. ^ Michael Waller-Bridge, "Nathalie Lieven QC",, accessed 14 April 2021
  11. ^ "Mother no longer knows best, high court told". the Guardian. 11 November 2005.
  12. ^ Osley, Richard (28 June 2013). "From HS2 to Ian Brady". Richard Osley. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  13. ^ a b Harriet Sherwood, Appeal court overturns forced abortion ruling, The Guardian, 24 June 2019
  14. ^ RE: AB (Termination of Pregnancy) 2019 EWCA Civ 1215,, 11 July 2019, accessed 13 April 2021
  15. ^ Clare Dyer, Baby at centre of legal battle can have life support removed, says judge, British Medical Journal, 29 January 2020, accessed 14 April 2021
  16. ^ Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust v. Midrar Namiq and Others [2020] EWHC 5 (Fam), paragraphs 32, 57,, 28 January 2020, accessed 14 April 2021
  17. ^ AB v CD and Others [2021] EWHC 741 (Fam), para 114,, 26 March 2021, accessed 14 April 2021
  18. ^ Graya: A Magazine for Members of Gray's Inn, Issue 99, p. 67
  19. ^ Nathalie M D Lieven, in England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916–2005,, accessed 13 April 2021 (subscription required)
  20. ^ "Rosa Natasha M Lieven Wright" in England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916–2007,, accessed 13 April 2021 (subscription required)

External links[edit]