Lady Sue Carr becomes first female Chief Justice in England and Wales in historic ceremony

Lady Sue Carr becomes first female Chief Justice in England and Wales in historic ceremony

The first ever Lady Chief Justice of England and Wales has been sworn into office at a historic ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Lady Sue Carr was appointed by King Charles III and is the first woman to lead the judiciary in a role that was first created in the 13th Century.

She swore allegiance to the King in front of a courtroom packed with senior judges and barristers on Monday morning.

Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos called it a “landmark in our national life” and as he hailed Lady Carr’s “meteoric career”.

“Sue is the first woman ever to have been appointed Chief Justice of England and Wales – that is in itself both remarkable and an achievement that should be celebrated”, he said.

“No doubt Sue will be a champion for diversity, equality, and inclusion in the judiciary and the legal sector more generally.

“She is an excellent role model for judges and lawyers who follow her.”


Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk sat alongside Lady Carr and the country’s most senior judges for the swearing-in ceremony, which has been televised for the first time in history.

Attorney General Victoria Prentis told the hearing Lady Carr had named US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Suffragette and pioneering female lawyer Elsie Bowerman as her heroes, saying: “Today Sue is blazing a trail of her own.”

Watching on were judges past and present of the Supreme Court and High Court, the chair of the Covid Inquiry Baroness Hallett, Law Society chair Lubna Shuja, Chair of the Justice Select Committee Sir Bob Neill MP, Chair of the Bar Council Nick Vineall KC, and Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring.

Ms Shuja told the court Lady Carr’s appointment “shows members of the legal profession from all backgrounds that they can aspire to holding the very highest office”.

Lady Carr takes on the role following the retirement of Lord Burnett of Maldon following his retirement after six years as Lord Chief Justice.

Lord Burnett was the 97th man to hold the post since the role was created in 1234.

Lady Carr, 58, will overseeing the deployment and welfare of judges, the allocation of work in the courts, and she will lead negotiations with the government over funding for the judiciary.

She became a barrister in 1987 and took silk in 2003, and has held a series of senior roles during her career including chair of the Bar Standards Board and complaints commissioner to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

She became a criminal judge in 2009 and a High Court judge in 2013, before being appointed a Lady Justice of Appeal in 2020.Her appointment comes amid a sustained diversity drive within the judiciary.

Lady Carr, a mother of three, was Cambridge educated and is also a keen singer and pianist.