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UK's first woman law lord appointed

Dame Brenda Hale, one of three women judges in the Court of Appeal, will become the UK's first woman law lord.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 21:39 IST

Yet another all-male bastion of the British establishment will fall when Dame Brenda Hale, one of three women judges in the Court of Appeal, will become the UK's first woman law lord and one of the 12 judges to sit in the proposed new Supreme Court in January.

Her appointment comes amid government moves to end the white, male, public school stranglehold on the judiciary, including a proposed independent judicial appointments commission with a brief to make the judges more representative of the people they serve.

Lord Falconer observed soon after he took over as lord chancellor in June that Britain had never had a woman in its top court, the House of Lords. "What other country can you say that about?" he asked.

The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all have women judges in their highest courts.

Canada, which had its first woman supreme court judge in 1982, now has three out of nine and is headed by a woman chief justice.

Dame Brenda, 58, has had an unusual career which could become more common under the plans to widen the pool from which judges are selected.

Unlike all her peers in the top court, who had long careers at the bar, she practised only briefly and spent most of her career after graduating from Cambridge as a university law teacher, rising to become a professor of law at Manchester University.