Press release

New Independent Assessor of Compensation for Miscarriages of Justice

Dame Linda Dobbs DBE, a former high court judge with 35 years of legal experience has been named the new Independent Assessor for Miscarriages of Justice.

After the Secretary of State for Justice determines whether somebody is eligible for compensation, the Independent Assessor decides on the amount given to successful applicants.

Nominated by the Lord Chief Justice, Dame Linda will take over the role from Dame Janet Smith, who has held the position since 2011.

Justice Minister Mike Penning said:

I am delighted Dame Linda has accepted this vital role.

In regrettable cases where mistakes have taken place, she will draw on her years as a High Court judge to determine what compensation should be awarded.

I am also very grateful to Dame Janet, who is leaving the post after five years of excellent service.

The appointment will commence with immediate effect and will initially be for 5 years.

Dame Linda was first called to the Bar in 1981 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1998, before being appointed to the High Court Bench in 2004.

She stepped down from the Bench in April 2013 to pursue other interests, including the training of judges and lawyers internationally.

Background on Dame Linda Dobbs DBE

  • Dame Linda Dobbs was born on 3 January 1951.

  • She has had a wide and varied career including serving 8 years as High Court judge.

  • Dame Linda was called to the Bar in 1981 and she was appointed Queens Counsel in 1998.

  • She was a member of the General Council of the Bar and chaired the Professional Standards Committee and Race Relations Committees.

  • In 2003, she became the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association; in the same year she was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge.

  • In 2004 she was appointed as a High Court Judge, being the first ethnic minority person to be appointed to the senior judiciary of England and Wales.

  • Dame Linda stepped down from the High Court Bench in April 2013 to pursue other interests including the training of judges and lawyers internationally, civil and commercial mediation and working with charities of which she is a patron in South Africa, Sierra Leone and East Africa.

  • She also sits on advisory boards of many not-for-profit organisations and is the current President of ILFA (International Lawyers for Africa).

  • Dame Linda appeared in the 2008 “Black Britannia” exhibition in London by Daily Mirror photographer John Ferguson and has also been included in the list of Britain’s 10 most powerful black women and the 100 Great Black Britons.

Notes to editors

  • The Independent Assessor of Compensation for Miscarriages of Justice is appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice, under section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The Assessor’s role is to gauge the amount of compensation to be paid once the Secretary of State has decided that the eligibility criteria is met.

  • Neither Ministers nor officials play any role in the assessment of compensation and the Secretary of State for Justice is required by section 133 (4) to accept the award made by the Assessor.

  • The Assessor plays no role in deciding whether an applicant is eligible for compensation, which falls solely to the Secretary of State under Section 133(3).