Mark Potter (judge)

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The Right Honourable
Sir Mark Potter
President of the Family Division
In office
7 April 2005 – 5 April 2010
Nominated by Gordon Brown
Appointed by Elizabeth II
Preceded by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
Succeeded by Sir Nicholas Wall
Personal details
Born 27 August 1937 (1937-08-27) (age 80)
Alma mater University of Cambridge

Sir Mark Howard Potter PC FKC (born 27 August 1937) is a retired English judge who was President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for England and Wales from 7 April 2005 to 5 April 2010.[1]


The son of the legal academic Professor Harold Potter, he attended The Perse School Cambridge and read law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He is now an Honorary Fellow of Caius.

Legal career[edit]

He was called to the bar in 1961 and practised in commercial law at Fountain Court chambers. He took silk in 1980.

From 1988 to 1996 he was a Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division and from 1991 to 1994 he was a Presiding Judge on the Northern Circuit. Potter was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1996 and became President of the Family Division in April 2005. Throughout his judicial career, Potter sat on various committees overseeing the direction of the Bar. He was Chairman of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct (1998–1999) and Chairman of the Legal Services Consultative Panel.[2]

Potter was elected Treasurer of Gray's Inn for the year 2004/05.

Potter retired as a judge of the Court of Appeal, President of the High Court Family Division and President of the Court of Protection in April 2010. He returned to the field of commercial Law as an arbitrator at Fountain Court chambers, with appointments in areas such as insurance, international share purchase agreements including Bermuda form and energy disputes.

Cases and administration[edit]

In July 2006, Potter ruled against Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson, a lesbian couple who had married in Canada, in their case to have their same-sex partnership recognised as marriage under English law.

Potter held that, in withholding from same-sex partnerships the title and status of marriage, Parliament had not interfered with or failed to recognise the right of same-sex couples to respect for their private or family life; nor had it discriminated against same-sex couples in declining to alter the deep-rooted and almost universal recognition of marriage as a union between a man and woman. He granted permission to appeal; but no appeal was brought.

In 2009, following a government consultation on increasing transparency in the family courts system, Potter presided over the implementation of new rules allowing media access to family proceedings, hitherto private and confidential, subject to certain restrictions.


Potter is a Trustee of Somerset House in London, and also of Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. He is married and has two sons.


  1. ^ "President of the Family Division" (Press release). 31 March 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "President of the Family Division" (Press release). 12 January 2005. Archived from the original on 3 October 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
President of the Family Division
Succeeded by
Sir Nicholas Wall

External links[edit]