Lord Justice Burnett – who acted as counsel to several of the most high-profile inquiries of recent decades – has been named the next Lord Chief Justice in succession to Lord Thomas, who retires on 1 October.
Sir Ian Burnett is 59. A grammar school pupil, he studied law at Oxford and was called to the Bar in 1980. Appointed QC in 1998, he spent his career at the Bar at Temple Garden Chambers, and had been head of chambers for five years when he was appointed to the High Court bench in 2008.
In the early stages of his career, he had a broad-ranging common law practice before focusing on public and administrative law, personal injury and health and safety law.
He acted as junior counsel to the King’s Cross Fire inquiry and to the inquiry into the convictions of the Guildford Four and Maguire family.
He was also leading counsel to the inquiry into the Southall rail crash and into train protection systems following the Paddington train crash.
Sir Ian’s final case at the Bar was as counsel to the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi al Fayed.
Appointed as a Recorder in 2000, he joined the Queen’s Bench Division when he became a High Court judge. He was Presiding Judge of the Western Circuit from 2011 until 2014 when he was appointed to the Court of Appeal. He was also deputy chairman of the Security Vetting Appeals Panel.
Lord Justice Burnett is the judge of the Court of Appeal with responsibility for extradition cases and is also supervising Lord Justice for immigration and public law appeals.
He was vice-chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission from November 2015 until March 2017, when he decided to step down to apply for this role.
Law Society president Joe Egan said: “Lord Justice Burnett takes up his new job in challenging times. Among the items in his in-tray are the court modernisation process and the thorny issue of fixed recoverable costs.
“We are also very much hoping that he will take a leading role in promoting the law of England and Wales overseas.”