Yorkshire-born president of Supreme Court Lady Hale honoured ahead of her retirement

Supreme Court President Lady Hale, who will become Baroness Hale of Richmond upon her retirement in January. Credit: James Hardisty
Supreme Court President Lady Hale, who will become Baroness Hale of Richmond upon her retirement in January. Credit: James Hardisty
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The UK's most senior judge, Yorkshire-born Lady Hale, has been honoured in a ceremony ahead of her retirement.

Supreme Court president Lady Hale will officially retire from her post when she reaches her 75th birthday in January.

Lady Hale when she was sworn in as the first female president of the UK's highest court, the Supreme Court. Credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Lady Hale when she was sworn in as the first female president of the UK's highest court, the Supreme Court. Credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Members of the judiciary and the legal profession have paid tribute to her career at a valedictory - the traditional ceremony for judges upon their retirement - at the Supreme Court today (December 18).

The ceremony included remarks from Lady Hale herself, as well as her successor Lord Reed and chairman of the Bar, Richard Atkins QC.

The judge, who will go by her title Baroness Hale of Richmond following her retirement, was the first woman justice of the Supreme Court on its opening in 2009 and served as its deputy president from 2013 before becoming president in 2017.

It was also announced today that she has been appointed as an Honorary Professor at UCL Faculty of Laws.

Born in Yorkshire to head teacher parents, Brenda Hale was educated at Richmond Girls School before studying law at Girton College, Cambridge.

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Regarded as something of a feminist trailblazer in the legal profession, she became the first woman appointed to the Law Commission, which promotes law reform, in 1984.

During her time at the commission, she played a significant role in the Children Act 1989 - legislation which made a child's welfare the "paramount" concern in any decision by a court.

She was the first High Court judge upon her appointment in 1994 to have made her career as an academic, having taught law at Manchester University, rather than as a practising barrister, and became the second woman to sit in the Court of Appeal in 1999.

When made the first female Law Lord in 2004, she adopted the Latin motto "omnia feminae aequissimae", meaning "women are equal to everything", for her crest.

Described in her profile on the Supreme Court's website as a "home maker as well as a judge", she was closely involved with the work of artists and architects tasked with redecorating the former Middlesex Guildhall when the court moved there.

Lady Hale became an internet sensation in September when she delivered the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful.

The judge, who is well known for her array of unusual brooches, wore a large silver diamante spider brooch as she announced the court's historic decision.

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She also sparked a debate in October after saying "Let's hear it for the girly swots" - an apparent reference to Mr Johnson's swipe at former prime minister David Cameron - at the annual Association of State Girls' Schools conference.

Lady Hale was appointed last year to Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal, where she will continue to sit following her retirement from the Supreme Court.

She will also sit as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, as well as keeping her roles as Visitor of Girton College, Cambridge and Visiting Professor of King's College London.

The ceremony, which started at 9.30am, was broadcast live on the Supreme Court's website.