Liz Truss MP is now the the first female lord chancellor.
She was recently sworn into sworn into Office amid a row questioning her suitability. She read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and qualified as an accountant. In her political career more recently was first the education minister and then moved on to be the environment secretary.
Is she suitable for the post ?
She certainly is not the first non lawyer Lord Chancellor, so I suspect only time will tell. Her gender does not preclude her from that office in any way in my view and clearly she is very well educated and capable to hold high office – but I do wish that the Lord Chancellor was a lawyer, whether male or female, who truly understood the soul of the Law and the very necessary function of the Lord Chancellor being what I consider to be a bridge and a fence between Law and Parliament.
Bob Neill, a barrister who chairs the justice select committee, has expressed concerns to the Guardian about Truss’s lack of legal qualifications, experience and seniority.
He stated that he was concerned over Truss’s ability to maintain the independence of the judiciary in her role as Lord Chancellor. He is quoted as saying :
“As chairman of the justice committee, I’ll be writing to Liz to meet us urgently. My concern is this: while it’s not necessary for the lord chancellor to have a legal background, they have a specific role under the Constitutional Reform Act to represent the interests of the judiciary and to represent the judiciary, including its independence within government.
“It helps if the person in charge has been a lawyer or has been a senior member of the cabinet. I have a concern, with no disrespect to Liz, that it would be hard for someone without that history to step straight in and fulfil that role,”
But those close to Truss have claimed that the legal establishment has closed ranks in the face of an appointment of a woman. A source said other justice secretaries without legal qualifications had not been subjected to the same level of criticism by “old, pale, male judges and politicians”.
Liz Truss has pledged to respect the rule of law, defend the independence of the judiciary and provide adequate resources for the courts.
(No jokes please about adequate resources – that will be the day !)
She is the third Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor in a row to take on those two dual roles who has not been a lawyer; the previous two being Chris Grayling and Michael Gove – not exactly beacons of light for non lawyer Lord Chancellors.
The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each case requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
Penn Chambers Solicitors
0207 183 2898