Press release

Appointment of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

The Rt Hon Sir John Thomas is appointed as the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

Her Majesty The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of The Rt Hon Sir John Thomas as the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 1 October 2013. This appointment follows the retirement of The Rt Hon The Lord Judge on 30 September 2013.

Notes to editors

Biography of candidate

Sir John Thomas was born in Wales and educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he read law, after which he became a Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. He was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1969 and became a Bencher at the Inn in 1992. He practiced at the Commercial Bar in London from 1971 and became a Queen’s Counsel in 1984. He was appointed an Assistant Recorder in 1984 and a Recorder in 1987. He was an Inspector into the affairs of Mirror Group Newspapers plc when that company was owned by the late Mr Robert Maxwell.

He was appointed a Judge of the High Court of England and Wales in 1996 and was assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division and to the Commercial Court. From 1998-2001 he was one of the Presiding Judges of the Wales and Chester Circuit. He was Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in London from April 2002 to July 2003, when he was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal. He has been a member of the Judges’ Council since 2002. He was the Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales from 2003 to 2006. From 2008 to October 2011 he was Vice-President of the Queen’s Bench Division. He has been President of the Queen’s Bench Division since October 2011. He has been Deputy Head of Criminal Justice since 2008 as well as judge in charge of European issues from 2007-2011. He was President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary from May 2008 to December 2010.

He is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a Fellow of the Universities of Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Swansea and Bangor and an Honorary Doctor of Law of the Universities of Glamorgan, the West of England and Wales.

He is Vice-President of ARIAS (UK), Past President of the British Insurance Law Association and a Vice-President of the British Maritime Law Association. He is Co-Chairman of the Trustees of the International Law Book Facility.

The appointment

The appointment of the Lord Chief Justice is made by Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor following the recommendation of an independent selection panel chaired by Christopher Stephens, Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission. The other panel members were: Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, Dame Valerie Strachan (DCBE), lay member of the JAC, Professor Noel Lloyd (CBE), member of the JAC, and Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls. This selection exercise was run under the relevant sections of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 as amended by the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and was the first time that the panel had a lay member majority.

In accordance with section 70 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, as amended by the Crime and Courts Act 2013, the panel determined the selection process to be followed and consulted the Lord Chancellor and the First Minister of Wales on the process followed.

In accordance with s.10(3) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 c.54, the selection exercise was open to all applicants who satisfied the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis, or were judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, or High Court.

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