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The first female Chief Justice

Mike McCartney

3rd October 2023

What is the significance of Dame Sue Carr's elevation to this 800 year old role?

I have blogged before about judicial independence, and mentioned how it is distinct from neutrality. These two concepts do overlap, but they are different. As an examiner I often find what some teachers call as 'misconception' in that they are seen to the the same. I hope this note clarifies things.

J.A.G. Griffith (ex-Professor of Law at the University of London) in The Politics of the Judiciary (1977) examined judicial attitudes towards such issues as trade unions and police powers, and suggested that judges had, ‘acquired a strikingly homogeneous collection of attitudes, beliefs and principles, which to them represent the public interest.’ They are on the whole, male, white, public school, and Oxbridge educated.

Some view this as an outdated concept, suggesting that the background of a judge doesn’t have a bearing on the outcome of a case, and that faults in the judicial system, lack of evidence, or a simply matter of judges applying the law as it is written more accurately explain why the rule of law does not seem to apply.

But some do feel it is important and contend that justice cannot be applied fairly if judges are not representative of the society they represent.

So watch the short clip below...

Some questions based on the video...

1. What is the significance of the ceremony mentioned in the video?

2. Who is Sue Carr and what is her achievement?

3. How does Sue Carr’s appointment as Chief Justice of England and Wales impact gender equality?

4. What challenges do you think Sue may face in her new role?

5. What qualities do you think are necessary for someone to become a successful Chief Justice?

6. How do you think Sue Carr’s appointment will affect the perception of women in leadership roles?

7. What do you think are the responsibilities of a Chief Justice?

8. How do you think the legal system in England and Wales will change under Sue's leadership?

9. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the legal system in England and Wales currently?

10. How do you think Sue Carr’s appointment will impact the diversity and representation within the legal system?

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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