Terence Etherton, Baron Etherton

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The Lord Etherton
Sir Terence Etherton.jpg
Official portrait, 2010
Master of the Rolls
In office
3 October 2016 – 11 January 2021
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byLord Dyson
Succeeded bySir Geoffrey Vos
Chancellor of the High Court
In office
11 January 2013 – 3 October 2016
Preceded bySir Andrew Morritt
Succeeded bySir Geoffrey Vos
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
29 September 2008 – 11 January 2013
Nominated byGordon Brown
as Prime Minister
Appointed byElizabeth II
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
1 March 2021
Life peerage
Personal details
Terence Michael Elkan Barnet Etherton

(1951-06-21) 21 June 1951 (age 70)
Spouse(s)Andrew Stone
ResidenceWest London
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
OccupationPeer of the Realm

Terence Michael Elkan Barnet Etherton, Baron Etherton, PC (born 21 June 1951) is a British retired judge and member of the House of Lords. He was the Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice from 2016 to 2021 and Chancellor of the High Court from 2013 to 2016.

Early life[edit]

Etherton attended Holmewood House School and St Paul's School, and studied history and law at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[1] He was a member of the British fencing team (sabre) from 1977 to 1980[2] and was selected to compete at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow,[3] but joined the boycott in protest against the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.[4][5]

Legal career[edit]

Etherton was called to the bar (Gray's Inn) in 1974 and became a Queen's Counsel in 1990. He was appointed a High Court judge on 11 January 2001[6] and assigned to the Chancery Division, receiving the customary knighthood. In August 2006, he was appointed Chairman of the Law Commission,[7] the statutory independent body created by the Law Commissions Act 1965 to keep the law under review and to recommend reform where needed.

On 29 September 2008, on expansion of the Court of Appeal from 37 to 38 judges, Etherton was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal. He was sworn in on 29 September 2008,[8] and received the customary appointment to the Privy Council. On 11 January 2013, he was appointed Chancellor of the High Court.[9]

On 3 October 2016, Etherton succeeded Lord Dyson as Master of the Rolls.[10]

In October 2016 Etherton was one of the three judges forming the divisional court of the High Court in proceedings concerning the use of the royal prerogative for the issue of notification in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (the Lisbon Treaty) (Santos and Miller, Applicants -v- Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Respondent). His role in this judgment meant that he appeared in an infamous front-cover of the Daily Mail (Enemies of the People), and in a move which was widely seen as attacking his homosexuality, the Mail Online chastised Etherton for being an "openly-gay ex-Olympic fencer".[11][12][13][14] The reference was swiftly removed, though without apology.

In June 2019, Etherton, Sir Stephen Irwin and Sir Rabinder Singh found that ministers had breached British law when they "made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so."[15][16]


Non-Executive Director Riverside Mental Health Trust (1992-1999), Chairman of Broadmoor Hospital (1999-2001) and Chairman of West London Mental Health NHS Trust (2000-2001).

Installed as an honorary fellow of Royal Holloway College, University of London (2005)

Honorary fellow since 2007 of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[17]

President of the Nicholas Bacon Society, Corpus Christi's law society, from 2001 to 2013.

In January 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in law by City University, London.

President of the Council of the four Inns of Court (COIC) for a three-year term (2009-2012).

Honorary Professor at the University of Kent since 2011. In 2018, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in law by the University of Kent.

Honorary President of the Property Bar Association and the Chairman of The Trust Law Committee (2012 - 2021).

Visiting Professor of Law at Birkbeck, University of London since 2010 and lectured on subjects including diversity in the judiciary and equity and trusts on the Birkbeck, University of London LLB and LLM Qualifying Law Degrees. He is also Patron of the Birkbeck Law Review.

Senior Warden at West London Synagogue.[18] (3-year appointment, 2013 - 2016).

Chairman of the Civil Justice Council (2016- 2021).

Chairman of the Advisory Council on the National Archives and Records (2016-2021).

Honorary Member of the Society of Legal Scholars (2017).

Honorary Fellowship of Birkbeck, University of London (4 November 2019-)[19]

In September 2021 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in law by the University of Plymouth.

Personal life[edit]

Etherton entered a civil partnership in 2006.[20] On his appointment as Lord Justice of Appeal in 2008, he said, "My appointment also shows that diversity in sexuality is not a bar to preferment up to the highest levels of the judiciary".[21]

On 10 December 2014, pursuant to legislation allowing couples in civil partnerships to convert the relationship to marriage, Etherton and his civil partner Andrew Stone were married in a Reform Judaism wedding ceremony at West London Synagogue.[22]

In December 2020, it was announced that Etherton would be created a crossbench life peer in the 2020 Political Peerages.[23] On 23 December 2020, he was created Baron Etherton, of Marylebone in the City of Westminster.[24]

Coat of arms of Terence Etherton, Baron Etherton
Granted by Sir Thomas Woodcock on 25 May 2021. College reference: Grants 183/249[25]
Hineini (Here I Am)[26]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ 'ETHERTON, Rt Hon. Sir Terence (Michael Elkan Barnet)’, Who's Who 2016, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2016
  2. ^ Bowcott, Owen (26 May 2016). "Britain's first openly gay judge becomes master of the rolls". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  3. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary
  4. ^ The JC
  5. ^ The Times
  6. ^ "No. 56092". The London Gazette. 16 January 2001. p. 535.
  7. ^ "Terence Etherton to Chair Law Commission". legalday.com. 25 July 2006. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2009.
  8. ^ "No. 58845". The London Gazette. 7 October 2008. p. 15299.
  9. ^ "Appointment of Chancellor of High Court" (Press release). London: Judicial Office. 20 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Master of the Rolls: Sir Terence Etherton". 10 Downing Street. 26 May 2016.
  11. ^ Duffy, Nick (3 November 2016). "The Daily Mail is very upset because an 'openly gay judge' ruled on Brexit". PinkNews. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  12. ^ Nelson, Sara C (3 November 2016). "MailOnline Attacks Brexit Judge For Being 'Openly Gay'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  13. ^ Blair, Olivia (4 November 2016). "J.K. Rowling responds perfectly to Mail Online headline referencing judges's sexuality after Brexit High Court ruling". The Independent. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Former Lord Chief Justice Attacks Homophobic Campaign Against Brexit Judge". PinkNews. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  15. ^ "UK government suspends new arms sales to Saudi Arabia after court ruling". Euronews. 20 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson accused of 'central role' in arming Saudi Arabia as UK's relationship with Riyadh reaches crossroads". iNews. 5 July 2019.
  17. ^ Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: Sir Terence Etherton Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "West London Synagogue of British Jews, Wardens 1842-2014". JewishGen.
  19. ^ "Congratulations to Birkbeck's Class of 2019".
  20. ^ "Sir Terence Etherton, Chairman of the Law Commission". The Times. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2009.
  21. ^ "Out gay man becomes Lord Justice of Appeal". Pink News. 22 September 2008.
  22. ^ "West London Synagogue celebrates religious same-sex weddings". Pink News. 12 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Political Peerages 2020". GOV.UK. 22 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  24. ^ "Crown Office | the Gazette".
  25. ^ "July 2021 Newsletter". College of Arms. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  26. ^ "The Right Honourable Sir Terence Etherton". Birkbeck, University of London. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
Legal offices
Preceded by Master of the Rolls
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the High Court
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Etherton
Followed by
The Lord Wolfson of Tredegar