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State & Ceremonial

The King appoints Dame Sue Carr as Lord Chief Justice – the first woman in the role’s 750-year history

The King has appointed Dame Sue Carr Lord Chief Justice – the first woman to hold the position since it was created in the 13th Century.

Lady Justice Carr, 58, will take up the role on October 1st making her the most senior judge in England and Wales.

A spokesperson confirmed this week that The King had approved the appointment of Lady Justice Carr following the advice of the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor.

The announcement said His Majesty had approved her appointment as “the lord chief justice”, however, there is uncertainty as to what her title will actually be.

As there is no precedent for a woman ever leading the judiciary, the most senior judge has always been Lord Chief Justice.

It is unclear whether Lady Justice Carr will wish to be known instead as the Lady Chief Justice, or just Chief Justice.

Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk said: “Ultimately, it’s got to be a title that she is comfortable with, and, within reason, I think I’ll probably be led by what she has to say.”

It is understood that a decision on Lady Justice Carr’s title will be made closer to the time she takes up her role.

These is some precedent for a change of title in other historical roles to reflect the gender of the incumbent.

In 2017, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Sarah Clarke as the first ever Lady Usher of the Black Rod.

Before this, the role was always formally known as the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.

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