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The legal profession welcomes Lady Chief Justice

Britain is about to witness a historic change in its judicial leadership. Dame Sue Carr, a 58-year-old Court of Appeal judge, is set to become the first woman in 755 years to oversee the judicial system in England and Wales as the head of the judiciary. Her official title will be "Lady Chief Justice," a term not used for more than seven centuries.

Dame Sue will take on this role on October 2nd, succeeding Lord Burnett of Maldon. This appointment marks a significant moment in legal history, breaking the long-standing tradition of the Lord Chief Justice title.

The Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk, granted Dame Sue the choice to decide her own title. She opted for "Lady Chief Justice" over the alternatives of "Lord Chief Justice" or the gender-neutral term "Chief Justice."

The swearing-in ceremony will be accessible to the public through a live stream, marking another first in history. To formalise her title, the Justice Secretary will need to issue a statutory instrument to amend the judicial title. The post, dating back to 1268, is legally defined as Lord Chief Justice, according to the 2003 Courts Act.

Dame Sue, formerly known as Lady Justice Carr during her three years as a court of appeal judge, was chosen over Dame Victoria Sharp, the first female president of the King's Bench Division. Having been a High Court judge for a decade, she brings a wealth of experience, including leadership roles and a notable career at the Bar, specialising in commercial professional liability, insurance, and fraud litigation and arbitration.

Despite the challenges ahead, including clearing case backlogs intensified by the pandemic and navigating the evolving landscape of technology in the courts, Dame Sue Carr's appointment is a historic step towards a more inclusive judiciary.


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