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Dame Sue Carr sworn in as 98th head of judiciary – taking title of lady chief justice

By Bianca Castro >>

(2 October 2023)

Dame Sue Carr made history today as the first lady chief justice of England and Wales as she took the oaths of office at the Royal Courts of Justice this morning.

Speculation about whether she would take the ‘lady’ title Lady ended as she took her oaths before welcoming speeches from the mater of the rolls, the lord chancellor, attorney general and heads of the bar and Law Society.  

Carr herself did not speak during the 50-minute ceremony. 

Lord chancellor Alex Chalk joked that Carr’s predecessor Lord Burnet had ‘helpfully pointed out at my own swearing in that I was the seventh lord chancellor in his tenure.  It is only fair for me to say, not six months in the job and I am already on my second.’

Describing Carr as ‘distinguished’, he added: ‘We are both veterans of the theatrical society. She joined the court of appeal and I joined the circus.’ While her appointment marked a ‘moment of change’ it also marks a moment of continuity, he said: ‘Continuity of principles and values that underpin our society. This lady chief justice, Lady Carr, will uphold all of them.’

Master of the rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos said that, despite Carr’s appointment, the judiciary must be ‘careful not to be complacent’. He added: ‘Work remains for us all to make our judiciary as diverse and as inclusive as it should be. I cannot think of no better to spearhead that task than our lady chief hustice.’

‘I know that Sue’s appointment has been welcomed by all levels of the judiciary, I want to assure her she will be supported through thick and thin,’ he said. ‘There will be hard times as well as good but I am sure she will do it brilliantly.’ 

Attorney General Prentis described Carr as a role model. ‘Sue will make an excellent lady chief justice, I have every faith she will have a fantastic run.’

Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: ‘Today is a historic and important day for progress in the legal profession. It is a proud moment for everyone that works in the justice system. The inauguration of the first lady chief justice is very significant. It shows that although we have a way to go our profession is moving in the right direction and under your leadership we will continue to do so.

‘Representation inspires change. It was not long ago we celebrated 100 years since the first woman entered the legal profession. Now we are celebrating the first woman to ascend all the way to the pinnacle of our legal system and I hope you are the first of very many more.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)