England Appoints First Female Lord Chief Justice, Sue Carr

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Sue Carr, a veteran UK barrister, was named the first woman to serve as the most senior judge for England and Wales in the office of lord chief justice, a position that dates back to the 13th century.

Carr, 58, was named to replace incumbent Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett, who will retire at the end of September.

The title-holder is in charge of the judiciary in England and Wales (Scotland has its own legal system), albeit its power has been weakened since the establishment of the UK Supreme Court in 2009.

Carr qualified as a barrister — arguing cases in court — in 1987 and her roles have included work with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

She became a criminal judge in 2009, and has served on the appeals court since 2020.

Married with three children, the Cambridge graduate is a keen musician who sings in a lawyers’ choir and plays the piano.

Carr’s appointment comes as the UK government seeks to improve the gender mix in senior legal roles — although men account for two-thirds of judges, and ethnic minorities are under-represented.

Black judges make up just over one percent of the total in England and Wales, barely changed from 2014, according to a Law Society report last year.

“At that rate of progress, it would take until 2149 for the proportion of the judiciary who are black to match the current estimate for the general population — 3.5 percent,” it said.

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