Sunday, 2 September 2012

Lord Dyson to be Master of the Rolls

Lord Dyson - presently a Justice of the Supreme Court - will become Master of the Rolls on 1st October 2012 - Announcement from No. 10.   This is an ancient office but, in modern times, the Master of the Rolls presides over the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) and is Head of Civil Justice - see Judiciary website.

Also on 1st October, the present Master of the Rolls (Lord Neuberger) becomes President of the Supreme Court - (earlier post).

Lord Dyson's move will open up another vacancy on the Supreme Court - see UK Supreme Court blog.  In addition, Lords Hope and Walker are due to retire in 2013.  (Article in The Guardian 19th July by Joshua Rozenberg).

Recent predecessors as Master of the Rolls are Lord Denning who held the office from 1962 to 1982, Lord Donaldson (1982-92), Lord Bingham (1992-96), Lord Woolf (1996-2000), Lord Phillips (2000-2005) and Lord Clarke (2005-09).  Lord Neuberger has been Master of the Rolls since 2009.

Lords Bingham, Woolf and Phillips also held the office of Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.  Lord Clarke is now a Justice of the Supreme Court.

Biographies of the Justices of the Supreme Court.


  1. Please allow me the privilege of being the first Commenter here to use the phrase "Musical Chairs" about these two appointments before several others do so.

    Whether or not that phrase is the correct one in the circumstances, the more very senior judicial appointments are open to scrutiny - and publicity by the appointers - the more attention will be drawn to what lay people will see as The Usual Suspects exchanging offices.

  2. A number of examples can be given of very senior judges moving from one appointment to another. For example, Lord Denning moved from the House of Lords to become Master of the Rolls. I have updated the post with some further examples - e.g. Sir Thomas Bingham moved from Master of the Rolls to become Lord Chief Justice and then on to become Senior Law Lord.

    "New" faces are arriving on the scene e.g. Jonathan Sumption QC went straight from the bar to the Supreme Court.

    There are bound to be further changes over the coming months and in to 2013.

    The publicity is a "good thing" in that the public are enabled to obtain some insight into how things are done but, and I express only my personal view, it would be preferable to have even more information such as who the other candidates were etc. We knew who they were in relation to the Presidency of the Supreme Court. Why not elsewhere?

    1. Well we knew (at least there was speculation) about the candidates that would fill the 12th justice post that went to Dyson eventually. I think the others where Lady Justice Arden, and Lord Justices Maurice Kay and Wilson, at least according to the UKSC blog.

      But yes there should definitely be more transparency regarding how the posts are filled. For example, I would LOVE to learn how Neuberger was chosen over Mance and Hale and similarly why Dyson was chosen over other candidates that already were at the Court of Appeal during all this time that Dyson was at the Supreme Court.

      I really have a hard time understanding why do they play this "musical chairs" game. I think it simply undermines the role of the judges already being at the respective courts. Bringing a judge from the Supreme Court to become MR and a judge from the Court of Appeal to become President of the Supreme Court seems utterly absurd to me. I am sure Lord Mance and Lady Hale would do an excellent job had one of them been chosen to fill in the vacancy of Lord Phillips. Instead one appoints the judge that left the House of Lords before becoming the Supreme Court claiming that the decision to create the first Supreme Court was made over "a glass of brandy". He was probably right is this, as it was really quick, but you just don't do that. It's like you undermine the role of the Supreme Court.