Issue date: 26 October 2000
The Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Brown is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the Family Division of the High Court.
Stephen Brown was born in Longdon Green, Staffordshire and educated at Malvern College. He read Law at Queens’ College, Cambridge. After serving as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve between 1943 and 1946, he married in 1951. He has five children, three daughters and twin sons.
As a lawyer, Stephen Brown’s career began as a barrister of the Inner Temple in 1949. From 1963 he was Deputy Chairman of the Staffordshire Quarter Sessions and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1966. He became Recorder and Honorary Recorder for West Bromwich in 1972 and in 1975 a Judge of the High Court Family Division and later the Queen’s Bench Division. During the late 1970s and early 1980s he was Presiding Judge of the Midland and Oxford Circuit.
Stephen Brown has served on many important legal boards and committees. He was a member of the Parole Board in England and Wales from 1967 to 1971, and later served on the Butler Committee on Mentally Abnormal Offenders and on the Advisory Council on Penal Systems. He was Chair of the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors between 1971 and 1975. His work is widely recognised as influential.
Sir Stephen became a Privy Counsellor in 1983 and served as a Lord Justice of Appeal for five years from 1983.
The contribution made by Sir Stephen to law, and, thereby, to society, has been particularly significant in the field of Family Law. He was President of the Family Division of the High Court for an eleven-year period from 1988. During that period he chaired one of the annual ‘Counsell Lectures’ organised by the University of the West of England and the Family Law Bar Association in 1998. The theme for the day was ‘Medico Legal Issues related to the Family’.
Sir Stephen Brown has had an outstandingly successful career and played a leading role in the reform and development of the Family Division of the High Court. His contribution to the law and the legal system is recognised by his peers throughout England and Wales as remarkable.
The honorary degree will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Law at Bristol Cathedral on Friday 27 October 2000 at 11.30am.