The Lord Chancellor is one of the most ancient offices of state, dating back many centuries. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister and is a senior member of the Cabinet. They head the Ministry of Justice as the Secretary of State for Justice. Previously the Lord Chancellor also acted as Speaker of the House of Lords and therefore sat on the Woolsack. The Lord Chancellor was also head of the judiciary and the senior judge of the House of Lords in its judicial capacity. [UK Parliament]
Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
However, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Lord Chancellor ceased to be the Speaker of the Lords, and was replaced by the Lord Speaker. In addition, the Lord Chief Justice is now head of the judiciary, and the Lord Chancellor may no longer sit as a judge.[UK Parliament]. The Lord Chief Justice is the Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales. They are also the President of the Courts of England and Wales and responsible for representing the views of the judiciary to Parliament and the Government.
2-Lord Chancellor to be qualified by experience
(1)A person may not be recommended for appointment as Lord Chancellor unless he appears to the Prime Minister to be qualified by experience.
(2)The Prime Minister may take into account any of these—
(a)experience as a Minister of the Crown;
(b)experience as a member of either House of Parliament;
(c)experience as a qualifying practitioner;
(d)experience as a teacher of law in a university;
(e)other experience that the Prime Minister considers relevant.
(3)In this section “qualifying practitioner” means any of these—
(a)a person who has a Senior Courts qualification, within the meaning of section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (c. 41);
(b)an advocate in Scotland or a solicitor entitled to appear in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary;
(c)a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland or a solicitor of the Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland.
Continued judicial independence
3-Guarantee of continued judicial independence
(1)The Lord Chancellor, other Ministers of the Crown and all with responsibility for matters relating to the judiciary or otherwise to the administration of justice must uphold the continued independence of the judiciary.
(2)Subsection (1) does not impose any duty which it would be within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament to impose.
(3)A person is not subject to the duty imposed by subsection (1) if he is subject to the duty imposed by section 1(1) of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 (c. 26).
(4)The following particular duties are imposed for the purpose of upholding that independence.
(5)The Lord Chancellor and other Ministers of the Crown must not seek to influence particular judicial decisions through any special access to the judiciary.
(6)The Lord Chancellor must have regard to—
(a)the need to defend that independence;
(b)the need for the judiciary to have the support necessary to enable them to exercise their functions;
(c)the need for the public interest in regard to matters relating to the judiciary or otherwise to the administration of justice to be properly represented in decisions affecting those matters.
(7)In this section “the judiciary” includes the judiciary of any of the following—
(a)the Supreme Court;
(b)any other court established under the law of any part of the United Kingdom;
(c)any international court.
(7A)In this section “the judiciary” also includes every person who—
(a)holds an office listed in Schedule 14 or holds an office listed in subsection (7B), and
(b)but for this subsection would not be a member of the judiciary for the purposes of this section.
(7B)The offices are those of—
(a)Senior President of Tribunals;
(b)President of Employment Tribunals (Scotland);
(c)Vice President of Employment Tribunals (Scotland);
(d)member of a panel of Employment Judges (Scotland);
(e)member of a panel of members of employment tribunals that is not a panel of Employment Judges;
(8)In subsection (7) “international court” means the International Court of Justice or any other court or tribunal which exercises jurisdiction, or performs functions of a judicial nature, in pursuance of—
(a)an agreement to which the United Kingdom or Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom is a party, or
(b)a resolution of the Security Council or General Assembly of the United Nations.
Full text of the speech given by the Rt Hon David Lidington at his Lord Chancellor swearing-in ceremony in June 2017
Mr Attorney, I’d like to thank the Lord Chief Justice for his kind words and warm welcome. I too look forward to working with the Lord Chief Justice and the other eminent members of the bench.
It’s an enormous privilege and a great honour to have been sworn in as Lord Chancellor and to have received the Great Seal of the Realm, an ancient symbol of this office that has 900 years of history behind it.
The freedoms and protections that we all enjoy are of course built on a principle that is much more important than the seals and the symbols of office – the rule of law itself.
That principle, together with the independence of the judiciary, form the very bedrock of a free and democratic society.
They safeguard us against tyranny and dictatorship.
They allow us to live in a society where no individual and no government is above the law, a society where everyone can expect equality before the law and the right to a fair trial, a society where executive power is balanced by both a strong judiciary that acts without fear or favour and a scrutinising legislature – something that I have seen in action over 25 years as a member of Parliament and in the last 12 months as Leader of the House of Commons.
Three branches of the state, each separate, but each having a mutual respect for the others.
I know from my previous ministerial experience how important the strength of those structures and the rule of law are.
As Europe Minister, one of my key priorities was to promote the protection of human rights and help uphold the rule of law in countries across Europe, especially perhaps in those European nations that had seen those traditions crushed.
I’ve seen the impact on people’s lives when they falter.
And I’m proud of our work to support countries all over the world, for example in Eastern Europe, nations like Albania and Bulgaria, where the United Kingdom is helping them build the strong justice and legal systems they need for their democracies to deepen and flourish.
And I have seen that you, as senior judges, have played – and continue to play – a vital role in that noble work, extending your expertise, through the Judicial College and other organisations like the Slynn Foundation, to assist countries with judicial training and court reform.
And for that, thank you.
For me, this overseas perspective serves as a sharp reminder of just how precious those principles are here at home – for protecting our freedoms, our democracy, and our way of life – a way of life, which we have seen in the dreadful news from north London today, remains under threat.
So I am determined I will be resolute and unflinching as Lord Chancellor in upholding the rule of law and defending the independence of the judiciary.
The very reason countries look to us for support is because the UK is seen as the home of high-quality justice and legal services.
People come here from around the world to have their legal disputes resolved because they know that they will get a fair and independent hearing.
And for this, we have much to thank the exceptional men and women that make up our judiciary.
Your intellect, your sharp legal minds, your wealth of knowledge, together with your dedication, personal integrity and commitment ensure we have a judiciary that is fair, free from improper influence, and truly independent.
Now, wearing these robes today for the first time, it is impossible not to feel the history.
But I see, too, how important it is to look beyond the pageantry to how, robed or not, bewigged or bare-headed, judges embody the rule of law.
You all carry the weight – often the lonely weight – of this most vital duty, both in the judgments you make in individual cases, and in the development of the common law itself – a jurisprudence that is world-renowned.
For that – and for the strength and health which this has brought to our country and our society – I want to thank you all sincerely.
But we should never be complacent about the need to build on and protect our successes, nor be too shy to embrace reform where that is needed.
And looking ahead as we leave the European Union, it will be a priority for me to promote our excellent legal services both at home and as a major UK export, to maintain London as a competitive hub and ensure people continue to see English law as the law of choice.
I also want to work together to make sure the administration of justice is swifter and puts the citizen at the centre of what we do by harnessing all the new opportunities which the technologies of our digital age have to offer.
And I know much hard work has already been done to modernise the courts and tribunals system for the 21st century, and how the judiciary has led that endeavour, and I look forward to continuing that important work with you.
The principles of justice that I swear to protect and promote in my Oath as Lord Chancellor are timeless.
Our approach to the way we protect and administer those principles of justice is in many cases modern.
And together, we can not only celebrate and preserve our proud history, but work to ensure that justice continues to be fairly administered and robustly defended for the next 900 years.