Scottish judge Lord Reed has been named as the new president of the Supreme Court, while an academic barrister has been catapulted straight into a vacancy on the highest court.
Lord Reed will succeed Baroness Hale on her retirement on 11 January 2020, while three new judges will join afterwards: Lord Justice Hamblen (13 January), Lord Justice Leggatt (21 April) and Professor Andrew Burrows (2 June).
The other two retiring justices are Lords Wilson and Carnwath. The next two justices hitting retirement age will be Lord Lloyd-Jones and Lady Arden in January 2022.
Lord Reed – who joined the Supreme Court in February 2012 and has been deputy president since June 2018 – has also received a life peerage “in recognition of the contribution that he has made to law and justice reform”.
Lord Reed, who qualified as an advocate in Scotland and as a barrister in England and Wales, practised at the Scottish Bar in a wide range of civil cases and also prosecuted serious crime, and later sat in the Scottish courts.
He is also a member of the panel of ad hoc judges of the European Court of Human Rights, a non-permanent judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, and the High Steward of Oxford University.
Lord Reed said: “As president, I will continue to champion the rule of law, alongside promoting public understanding of the role of the judiciary and maintaining the high regard in which the court is held around the world.”
A new deputy president will be needed, and the Lord Chancellor will convene a commission to make a recommendation by the end of the year.
Andrew Burrows is professor of the law of England at Oxford University, and has been a barrister at Fountain Court since 1989. He is a door tenant and the chambers’ website says he is “available to take work on an occasional basis”.
He was appointed an honorary QC in 2003 and is an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple. He has been sitting as a part-time judge for over 20 years, first as a recorder and then as a deputy High Court judge.
He was a Law Commissioner in the 1990s, elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2007, and served as president of the Society of Legal Scholars in 2015/16. His writing has focused on contract, tort, unjust enrichment, and statute law.
Sir Nicholas Hamblen was a commercial barrister in practice, taking silk in 1997 and taking on his first judicial role, as an assistant recorder, in 1999. He was appointed to the High Court in 2008 and Court of Appeal in 2016.
Sir George Leggatt worked as a foreign lawyer at US firm Sullivan & Cromwell in New York, before joining Brick Court Chambers in London in 1985, where he practised as a commercial barrister.
A former vice-chair of the Bar Standards Board, he was appointed a QC in 1997 and became a High Court judge in 2012, joining the Court of Appeal in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Lord Chief Justice has announced the appointment of four presiding judges: Mr Justice Bryan (South Eastern Circuit), to replace Mrs Justice McGowan; Mrs Justice Jefford (Wales Circuit), where she will succeed Mr Justice Lewis; Mr Justice Pepperall (Midland Circuit), following Mrs Justice Carr; and Mrs Justice Yip (Northern Circuit) in succession to Mr Justice William Davis.
These appointments take effect for three years from 1 January 2020.