Richard Wilberforce, Baron Wilberforce

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Wilberforce
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
Personal details
Born 11 March 1907
Died 15 February 2003 (aged 95)
Nationality English
Alma mater New College, Oxford
Profession Barrister, Judge

Richard Orme Wilberforce, Baron Wilberforce, QC, PC (11 March 1907 – 15 February 2003), was a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in the House of Lords from 1964 to 1982.


Richard Wilberforce was a great-great-grandson of the famous abolitionist William Wilberforce, and son of Samuel, a judge of the Lahore High Court, India.[a] His mother Katherine was the daughter of Bishop John Sheepshanks. He was born in India and attended Norwich School, Sandroyd School, Winchester College and New College, Oxford, and was later elected a Fellow of All Souls College.[1] He was called to the Bar in 1932 and became a Queen's Counsel in 1954.

He was first appointed to the bench in 1961 as a Chancery judge. Then in 1964 he was appointed to the House of Lords as a Lord Appeal in Ordinary, skipping over the Court of Appeal, and was made a life peer as Baron Wilberforce, of the City and County of Kingston-upon-Hull. He is the only England and Wales judge in recent times to have been appointed to the House of Lords straight from the High Court Bench, without serving in the Court of Appeal. His decisions were known for being reserved and cautious. He served as a Law Lord for 18 years.

Wilberforce was Chancellor of the University of Hull between 1978 and 1994.

Famous judgments[edit]

Wilberforce gave many important and prescient judgments, including in the following cases:


  • with Alan Campbell and Neil Elles, The Law of Restrictive Practices and Monopolies (2nd edn London, Sweet and Maxwell 1966) LCCN 66-70116
  • Law and economics: Being the presidential address of the Rt. Hon. Lord Wilberforce (Holdsworth Club 1966)


  1. ^ Samuel was himself a grandson of Samuel Wilberforce through his second son Reginald.


  1. ^ Richard Orme Wilberforce (2003). Reflections on My Life. Roundtuit Publishing. pp. 10–22. ISBN 1-904499-03-1. 

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