Baroness Hale of Richmond



Baroness Hale joined the Woolf Institute Board of Trustees in 2021.

Brenda Hale, the Baroness Hale of Richmond, retired in January 2021 as the United Kingdom's most senior judge. She was educated at Richmond High School for Girls in North Yorkshire and Girton College, Cambridge (where she is now Visitor) and was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn (where she was Treasurer in 2017). She taught Law at Manchester University for 18 years, specialising in family and social welfare law, and also practised for a while at the Manchester Bar.

In 1984 she became the first woman to serve on the Law Commission, a statutory body which promotes the reform of the law. There she led the work which resulted (among others) in the Children Act 1989 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. She was also a founder member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and chair of its Code of Practice Committee from 1990 until 1994, when she was appointed a Judge of the Family Division of the High Court. She was promoted to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in 1999 and in 2004 became a 'Lord of Appeal in Ordinary' in the House of Lords. This was the top court for the whole United Kingdom, until the 'Law Lords' became the Justices of the newly established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 2009. She became its Deputy President in 2013 and President in 2017.

While at Manchester University she was joint founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law and authored a number of books, including The Family, Law and Society: Cases and Materials and Women and the Law. In 2004, she helped to establish the United Kingdom Association of Women Judges and from 2010 to 2012 served as President of the International Association of Women Judges, a world-wide body of both men and women judges committed to equality and human rights for all.

A practising member of the Church of England, she has always taken an interest in religion and the law, and has written and spoken on the subject many times.

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