Honorary Degree awarded to Baroness Brenda Hale

Issue date: 26 February 2009


University of the West of England Brenda Hale, The Right Honourable The Baroness Hale of Richmond, DBE is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of the West of England at a special ceremony at the Bristol Mansion House on Friday 27 February at 12.00.

The Honorary Degree is awarded in recognition of Baroness Hale's outstanding contribution to the promotion of equality and diversity, which reflects values consistent with those of the University of the West of England, and in particular in recognition of her appointment as the first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.

Brenda Marjorie Hale was born in Yorkshire, one of three daughters whose parents were both head teachers. She was educated at the Richmond High School for Girls and later at Girton College, Cambridge where she read Law, graduating top of her class.

Between 1966 and 1984, Brenda Hale taught Law at Manchester University. While there she qualified as a barrister and was called to the Bar in 1969, topping the list for the Bar finals for that year.

Brenda Hale spent eighteen years on the academic staff of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manchester, where she became a Professor in 1986. For a short while she also worked part-time as a barrister. In 1984 she became the first woman and the youngest person to be appointed a member of the Law Commission. Important pieces of legislation resulting from the work of the team she led include: the Children Act 1989; the Family Law Act 1996; and, the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

In 1984, she also began sitting as an Assistant Recorder in the Crown and county courts. She was appointed a Queen's Counsel and a Recorder in 1989 and a High Court Judge in 1994. Upon her appointment she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1989, she was promoted to the Court of Appeal, only the second woman to serve on that court.

In 2004 the Right Honourable Lady Justice Hale became the first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and on her appointment was created a life peer as Baroness Hale of Richmond of Easby in North Yorkshire. In 2009 the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary will become the judges of the new Supreme Court for the United Kingdom, created by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

Baroness Hale was a founder member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and has also been a Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford and President of the Association of Women Barristers. She is currently President of National Family Mediation, President of the United Kingdom Association of Women Judges and President-Elect of the International Association of Women Judges.

Baroness Hale of Richmond is the seventh Chancellor of the University of Bristol, Visitor of her old college, Girton and a Visiting Professor at King's College, London. She is also an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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