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No more law lords as ‘Sir John’ joins Supreme Court

19 April 2010

Sir John Dyson, formerly Lord Justice Dyson, will not be known as a ‘lord’ following his swearing in at the Supreme Court this morning, but merely as ‘Sir John’. Female justices of the Supreme Court will be referred to as ‘Dame’, rather than ‘Lady’.

There had been speculation that Sir John would be appointed an honorary lord since he was joining ten lords and one lady, Baroness Hale, who moved across from the House of Lords.

It is understood that the government blocked the move and decided that Supreme Court judges would in future be referred to by the titles they received when joining the High Court.

Dyson LJ, who is 66, was presiding judge of the Technology and Construction Court from 1998 to 2001, when he was appointed to the Court of Appeal. Between 2003 and 2006, he was head of civil justice.

His appointment to the Supreme Court brought to an end a long-running saga over whether a talented QC should be ‘parachuted’ into the Supreme Court to bolster its intellectual resources.

Media speculation centred on Jonathan Sumption QC, joint head of Brick Court chambers, who withdrew his application at the end of last year (see solicitorsjournal.com, 11 December 2009).

At a brief ceremony at the Supreme Court today, Sir John swore the judicial oath and oath of allegiance, watched by the other justices of the Supreme Court in their ceremonial robes.

Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, who conducted the ceremony, said: “I welcome Sir John as the twelfth justice of the Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy created by Lord Neuberger’s appointment as Master of the Rolls.

“Today’s ceremony was an important one in that the court now has its full number of justices. Sir John is a distinguished addition to the judicial expertise at the court.”

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