Lady Hale, former President of the UK Supreme Court: «Courts as Champions of Women, Children, and Marginalised Groups»

Date/time: 27th of October 10:15-12:00

Place: Auditorium Egget, Parkveien 1, 5007 Bergen

The former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lady Brenda Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond will be the Department of Government’s esteemed speaker at the General Seminar in Politics and Government.

Lady Hale is a trailblazer in British law and achieved several historic milestones throughout her career. She notably became the first woman to serve as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, a position she held from 2017 until her retirement in 2020.

She received her education at Richmond High School for Girls in North Yorkshire and Girton College, Cambridge, where she currently holds the position of Visitor. Lady Hale was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn, where she was Treasurer in 2017. For nearly two decades, she taught Law at Manchester University for 18 years, specialising in family and social welfare law, and also practiced at the Manchester Bar for a period.

In 1984, she made history as the first woman to join the Law Commission, which promotes legal reform. Here she played an important role which led to the Children Act of 1989 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. She was also a founder member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and chair of its Code of Practice Committee from 1990 until 1994, when she was appointed a Judge of the Family Division of the High Court. She was promoted to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in 1999 and in 2004 became a ‘Lord of Appeal in Ordinary’ in the House of Lords. This was the top court for the whole United Kingdom, until the ‘Law Lords’ became the Justices of the newly established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 2009. She became its Deputy President in 2013 and President in 2017.

While at Manchester University she was joint founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law and authored a number of books, including The Family, Law and Society: Cases and Materials and Women and the Law. In 2004, she helped to establish the United Kingdom Association of Women Judges and from 2010 to 2012 served as President of the International Association of Women Judges, a world-wide body of both men and women judges committed to equality and human rights for all. A practising member of the Church of England, she has always taken an interest in religion and the law, and has written and spoken on the subject many times.

Throughout her career, Lady Hale’s impact has reached beyond national boundaries. Her principled stance and intellectual contributions have solidified her legacy as a pioneering figure in the legal community. Through a close connection to academia, she has provided lectures on justice, human rights and the legal system, enriching the discourse in those critical areas.

Topic of the General Seminar:

Courts as Champions of Women, Children, and Marginalised Groups

Both in legal theory and in practice, courts are crucial for the protection of vulnerable groups and insular minorities. Most societies give special protection in law to certain groups, such as children, religious minorities, and indigenous peoples, while for others, the legal protection is less clear, for example when it comes to undocumented migrants and future (climate affected) generations. Minority protection are often perceived as threatening important societal interests (parental rights, the natural family, security, economic growth, green transformation) and increasingly place courts at the centre of heated political contestations. Diverging views between the European Court of Human Right and domestic courts on whose rights should prevail and what the State’s obligations are, add complexity. How should courts navigate, when the rights of vulnerable groups place the judiciary at risk of politicization?