New-style Lord Chancellors: ten years on

Grayling

Joshua Rozenberg has an interesting piece in the Law Society Gazette today, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the back-of-the-envelope decision to radically change the role of the Lord Chancellor (as well as to create a UK Supreme Court). Rozenberg writes that the adoption of the new-style of Lord Chancellor is

not … a cause for celebration. On June 12, 2003, the judiciary lost its head. In sacking Lord Irvine of Lairg, Tony Blair was not merely reshuffling his cabinet. The prime minister was deposing the lord chancellor, at that point arguably the most influential figure in the land. Would the legal profession now be fighting for its future if it still had cabinet support from a minister who was not only a former lawyer but also the country’s most senior judge?

Rozenberg concludes that the post of Lord Chancellor had “evolved over the centuries into a uniquely valuable constitutional pivot” and that “wrenching it out of the system” has proved to be a wrong turning. The article, available here, is worth reading in full. It reminded me of a couple of posts I wrote last summer when Chris Grayling – who, as a non-lawyer, represents the most drastic break from the old system to date – was appointed to the position. The posts are here and here. 

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