Tom Bingham, Senior Law Lord (Baron Bingham of Cornhill)
Thomas Henry Bingham, Baron Bingham of Cornhill, KG PC FBA (13 October 1933 – 11 September 2010), was an eminent British judge and jurist who served as Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and Senior Law Lord. Widely regarded as the greatest lawyer of his generation..(Wikipedia)
“He was appointed a Recorder in 1975, and became a Bencher of Gray’s Inn in 1978. He was promoted High Court Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division in April 1980, aged 46, and assigned to the Commercial Court, receiving the customary knighthood. He was further promoted to the Court of Appeal in 1986, joining the Privy Council. In 1991 he led a high-profile inquiry into the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)….
Bingham succeeded Lord Donaldson of Lymington as Master of the Rolls in 1992 and initiated significant reforms, including a move towards the replacement of certain oral hearings in major civil law cases and he was one of the first senior judges to give public support to incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into English Law, which ultimately came about with the passing of the Human Rights Act 1998. Despite being less experienced in criminal law, Bingham was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in 1996, following Lord Taylor of Gosforth. In England and Wales, he was the highest-ranking judge in regular courtroom service; he was personally responsible for adding “and Wales” to the office’s title.
He was created a Life Peer as Baron Bingham of Cornhill, of Boughrood in the County of Powys, on 4 June 1996, enabling him to serve on the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. He continued as Lord Chief Justice until 2000, when he was appointed Senior Law Lord. This position had customarily been held by the longest-serving Law Lord, but the then-Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, took the view that a more dynamic leader was required. Bingham was followed in the office of Lord Chief Justice by Lord Woolf, who had succeeded him as Master of the Rolls in 1996.
Bingham was a strong advocate for divorcing the judicial branch of the House of Lords from its legislative functions by setting up a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which was accomplished under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The title of the office he held was redesignated as “President of the Supreme Court” upon that court‘s establishment in October 2009, but after Lord Bingham had retired in July 2008; he is understood to have been “very sorry” not to serve as its inaugural president.
Bingham also presided over various decisions of the Privy Council Judicial Committee upholding that death penalties in Belize, St Lucia, St Kitts and the Bahamas be unconstitutional….
In 2005, he was advanced from Knight Bachelor to the Garter, an honour in the personal gift of the Sovereign and seldom bestowed upon judges, being installed as a Knight of the Garter with Lady Soames and Sir John Major. He also served as President and Chairman of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, which established in 2010 the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in his honour….
The Business of Judging:
“The Judge’s job at a civil trial, it is often said, is first of all to decide what happened (in legal jargon ‘find the facts’), then to identify the relevant rules or principles of law, and then to apply the law to the facts as he has found them…”
“…the real problem is what order the judge should make, how he should ‘exercise his discretion‘…if a case goes to appeal the argument is normally about the correctness of the judge’s ruling on the law and much more rarely about his decision on the facts…”
Click here for more on Tom Bingham’s analysis on “The Business of Judging”.
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