HomeLord Woolf of Barnes

Expert resume of Lord Woolf of Barnes

Former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Lord Woolf (UCL Laws 1954; Fellow 1981; Chair of UCL Council 2005– 2008) was called to the Bar in 1955 and became a judge in 1979, rising to become a law lord in 1992, Master of the Rolls (1996–2000) and Lord Chief Justice (2000–2005).

As Lord Chief Justice he was an outspoken advocate of penal reform, the importance of rehabilitation and spare use of custody. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 made him the first Lord Chief Justice to be President of the Courts of England and Wales.

In 1990 his “Strangeways Report” into the British Prison System for the Government is still regarded as a blue print for a secure, efficient and humane rehabilitative Prison System. The Woolf reforms, which sought to make litigation more accessible and less expensive, have had a profound impact on civil justice since they were introduced in 1999.

Lord Woolf is a member of Blackstone Chambers, an accredited mediator, and a Chartered Arbitrator (Cairn). In September 2009 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the IAM (International Academy of Mediators). His report, “Access to Justice”, 1996 transformed English Civil Procedure and was a catalyst for the development of ADR. His recent books include De Smith’s Judicial Review of Administration (6ed jointly) (2008) and “Pursuit of Justice” (2008), a collection of his speeches, writings and lectures. He chaired the network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the EU Working Group on mediation and the Financial Markets Law Committee.

Lord Woolf has served as a member of the House of Lords Constitution Committee and was Chairman of the Sub Committee of Members’ Interests. He is also a supporter of prison reform and is patron of the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust and since 2011, Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust.

Lord Woolf became a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong in 2003, and the first President of the Qatar Financial Centre Civil and Commercial Court in 2007. He is former Chairman of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies In 2008, The Woolf Committee, which he chaired, produced its report, “Ethical Business Conduct in BAE Systems plc – the way forward”. Since March 2011, Lord Woolf chaired an independent external inquiry into the LSE’s relationship with Libya and with Saif Gaddafi and into related matters.

From 2006-2009 he chaired the Bank of England Financial Markets Law Committee. He holds honorary degrees from twelve universities and is a Hon Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences, UCL and the US College of Trial Lawyers and Hon Member of the American Law Institute. He has over 12 honorary doctorates in the UK including London, Oxford and Cambridge. He is an honorary professor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and UCL and Companion of the Academy of Experts.