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The Baroness Hale of Richmond
Baroness Hale 2017.jpg
Hale in 2017
President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
In office
5 September 2017 – 11 January 2020
Nominated by David Lidington
Appointed by Elizabeth II
  • The Lord Mance
  • The Lord Reed of Allermuir
Preceded by The Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
Succeeded by The Lord Reed of Allermuir
Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
In office
28 June 2013 – 4 September 2017
Nominated by Chris Grayling
President The Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
Preceded by The Lord Hope of Craighead
Succeeded by The Lord Mance
Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
In office
1 October 2009 – 28 June 2013
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Lord Hamblen of Kersey
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
12 January 2004 – 30 September 2009
Preceded by The Lord Millett
Succeeded by Office abolished
Lady Justice of Appeal
In office
High Court Judge
In office
Appointed by Elizabeth II
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
12 January 2004
Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong
In office
30 July 2018 – 29 July 2021
Appointed by Carrie Lam
Personal details
Brenda Marjorie Hale

(1945-01-31) 31 January 1945 (age 79)
Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
  • John Hoggett
    (m. 1968; div. 1992)
  • Julian Farrand
    (m. 1992; his death 2020)
Children 1
Alma mater Girton College, Cambridge
Chinese name

Brenda Marjorie Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond, DBE, PC, FBA (born 31 January 1945), is a British judge who served as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom from 2017 until her retirement in 2020.

In 2004, she joined the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. She is the only woman to have been appointed to that position. She served as a Law Lord until 2009 when she, along with the other Law Lords, transferred to the new Supreme Court as a result of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. She served as Deputy President of the Supreme Court from 2013 to 2017.

On 5 September 2017, Hale was appointed under the premiership of Theresa May to serve as President of the Supreme Court, and was sworn in on 2 October 2017. She was the third person and first woman to serve in the role. Hale is one of four women to have been appointed to the Supreme Court (alongside Lady Black, Lady Arden and Lady Rose).

Hale became a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong in 2018. In June 2021, she announced her decision not to seek reappointment on the Hong Kong court after the end of her term in July, mentioning the impact of the controversial Hong Kong national security law. She was the first senior British judge to withdraw from Hong Kong's top court after the enactment of the security law in 2020.

In 2019, Hale was appointed an Honorary Professor of Law at University College London. Hale has also been Honorary President of the Cambridge University Law Society since 2015.

On 11 January 2020, Lady Hale was succeeded by Lord Reed as President of the Supreme Court. In 2021, Hale became an honorary fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford.

Early life

Brenda Marjorie Hale was born on 31 January 1945 in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire. Both her parents were headteachers. She has two sisters. Hale lived in Redcar until the age of three when she moved with her parents to Richmond, North Yorkshire. She was educated at the Richmond High School for Girls (now part of Richmond School), where she and her two sisters were all head girls. She later studied at Girton College, Cambridge (the first from her school to attend Cambridge), where she read law. Hale was one of six women in her class, which had 110 men, and graduated with a starred first and top of her class in 1966.

After becoming an assistant law lecturer at the Victoria University of Manchester (now the University of Manchester) in 1966 and lecturer in 1968, she was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1969, topping the list in the bar finals for that year.

Working part-time as a barrister, Hale spent 18 years mostly in academia, becoming Reader in 1981 and Professor of Law at Manchester in 1986. Two years earlier, she became the first woman and youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission, overseeing a number of important reforms in family law during her nine years with the commission. In 1989, she was appointed Queen's Counsel.

Judicial career

Hale was appointed a recorder (a part-time circuit judge) in 1989, and in 1994 became a judge in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice (styled The Honourable Mrs Justice Hale). Upon her appointment, as is convention, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE). In 1999, Hale followed Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss to become only the second woman to be appointed to the Court of Appeal (styled The Right Honourable Lady Justice Hale), entering the Privy Council at the same time.

On 12 January 2004, she was appointed the first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and was created a life peer as Baroness Hale of Richmond, of Easby in the County of North Yorkshire.

In June 2013, she was appointed Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to succeed Lord Hope of Craighead. In July 2017, she was appointed to be the next President of the Supreme Court, succeeding Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury. She took office in September 2017.

In December 2018, during an interview to mark the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, Lady Hale argued that the judiciary needed to become more diverse so that the public have greater confidence in judges. Hale called for a more balanced gender representation on the UK's highest court and swifter progress promoting those from minority ethnic backgrounds and with "less privileged lives". However, Hale objected to the idea of positive discrimination because "no one wants to feel they have got the job in any way other than on their own merits".

In September 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament over Brexit. As President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lady Hale found that Johnson's prorogation was unlawful, terminating the suspension of Parliament. Hale described the ruling as "a source of, not pride, but satisfaction." In 2020, reaching the mandatory retirement age, Hale retired from the court.

Hong Kong judgeship

On 21 March 2018, the Hong Kong judiciary announced her nomination as a non-permanent judge from other common law jurisdictions of the Court of Final Appeal. Her appointment was accompanied by the appointments of Andrew Cheung and Beverley McLachlin. The appointment was gazetted by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam and took effect 30 July 2018 for a three-year term.

In October 2020, after China imposing a controversial national security law on Hong Kong, Hale expressed her concerns about hearing cases in Hong Kong: "I have never sat and it has not been arranged at least for me to sit . . . when that happened I would have a serious moral question to ask myself."

In June 2021, she revealed her wish of not wanting to be reappointed as a judge in Hong Kong after her three-year term ending in July. As she was making her decision known before a webinar, she also mentioned the impact of the security law and said, 'The jury is out on how they will be able to operate the new national security law. There are all sorts of question marks up in the air.' However, the Hong Kong Judiciary claimed that her leaving was for personal reasons.

Hale became the first senior British judge to quit Hong Kong's top court after her fellow judge, Australian James Spigelman resigned as a Hong Kong judge in November 2020.

House of Lords

Hale became a member of the House of Lords following her appointment as a law lord, and was introduced to the Lords on 12 January 2004.

In September 2023, Hale was identified by The Guardian as one of eleven peers who had not sworn or affirmed the oath of allegiance to King Charles III and could not sit or vote in the House of Lords until they had done so. Describing her appointment as a law lord, Hale stated: "I do not accept that I have neglected any 'duties' because I was not appointed as a parliamentarian", and planned to "play a modest part" in the Lords, having retired from judicial office. She made her maiden speech on 23 November 2023, citing "the disruption caused by Covid and [her] own diffidence about whether [she] could make a useful contribution" for not having participated in parliamentary debates since her retirement as a judge.

Significant lectures

On 27 June 2011, Lady Hale gave a lecture in memory of Sir Henry Hodge, "Equal Access to Justice in the Big Society" in which she explains the benefits of an inquisitorial Tribunal system over adversarial proceedings.

On 10 September 2015, Hale delivered the Caldwell Public Lecture at the University of Melbourne, Australia, on the topic "Protecting Human Rights in the UK Courts: What are we doing wrong?".

On 2 November 2018, Hale delivered an SLS Centenary Lecture at the University of Essex, United Kingdom, on the topic of "All Human Beings? Reflection on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

On 7 March 2019, Hale delivered the University of Cambridge Freshfields law lecture, which she entitled "Principle and Pragmatism in Developing Private Law".

In a 2019 Girton College lecture entitled "100 Years of Women in Law", Hale described the "Brenda Agenda" (a neologism coined by her Supreme Court colleague Lord Hope) as "quite simply, the belief that women are equal to men and should enjoy the same rights and freedoms that they do; but that women's lives are necessarily sometimes different from men's and the experience of leading those lives is just as valid and important in shaping the law as is the experience of men's lives."


  • She received the Hibernian Law Medal from the Law Society of Ireland on 12 May 2022 for outstanding contributions to the advancement of justice, integrity of the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and the legal professions, and/or public access to and understanding of the legal system.
  • In 2021 "Lady Hale Gate", a passage leading from Chancery Lane into Gray's Inn was named in her honour. It is home to Gatehouse Chambers.

Commonwealth honours

Country Date Appointment Post-nominal letters
 United Kingdom 1989 – Present Queen's Counsel (1989- 8 September 2022) / King's Counsel (since 8 September 2022 QC / KC
 United Kingdom 1994 – Present Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire DBE
 United Kingdom 1999 – Present Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council PC


University degrees
Location Date School Degree
 England 1966 Girton College, Cambridge Starred First Bachelor of Arts
 England 1969 Gray's Inn Called to the bar
Chancellor, visitor, governor, rector and fellowships
Location Date School Position
 England 2004–present Girton College, Cambridge Visitor
 England 2004 – 2016 University of Bristol Chancellor
 England 2015 – present Law Society of the University of Cambridge Honorary President
 England July 2017 – present University of Bristol Honorary Fellowship
 England 17 December 2019 – present University College London Honorary Law Professor
 England 2020 – present Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford Visiting Fellow

Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree
 England 2005 University of Cambridge Doctorate
 England 2006 University of Hull Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England July 2007 University of Reading Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England 27 February 2009 University of the West of England Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England 2009 University of Huddersfield DCL
 England July 2010 University of Salford Doctorate
 Scotland June 2011 University of Glasgow Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England July 2011 University of Kent Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England 2016 University of Worcester Doctorate
 England 2018 York St John University Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England 26 July 2019 Edge Hill University Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England 2019 University of Bradford Doctor of Laws (LLD)
 England London School of Economics Doctor of Laws (LLD)

Memberships and Fellowships

Location Date Organisation Position
 United Kingdom 2004 – Present British Academy Fellow (FBA)
 United Kingdom 2017 Gray's Inn Treasurer

Personal life

In 1968, Hale married John Hoggett, a fellow law lecturer at Manchester, with whom she had one daughter. The marriage was dissolved in 1992. In the same year, she married Julian Farrand, former dean of the law faculty at Manchester, and subsequently Pensions Ombudsman.

In April 2018, Hale featured as a celebrity judge on BBC cooking show MasterChef.

In September 2021, Hale appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. In October 2021 she unveiled a blue plaque in honour of Helena Normanton on 22 Mecklenburgh Square in London, saying "Helena Normanton was the pioneer of female barristers. She had to overcome a great deal of prejudice and discrimination. A blue plaque is a fitting tribute to her courage and her example to women barristers everywhere."


See also

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