For a while now the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has had two vacancies, caused by the retirement of Lord Lloyd-Jones and Lady Arden of Heswall in January. Yesterday it was announced that appointments had been made: Arden’s place is to be taken by Sir David Richards, formerly of the Court of Appeal of England & Wales, while Lloyd-Jones’s successor is… Lord Lloyd-Jones.
The reason for this bizarre phenomenon is found by looking at legislation relating to mandatory retirement ages. The Judicial Pensions Act 1959 set the retirement age for people entering the judiciary thereafter at 75, though it was not binding on those already holding office by then (so Lord Denning and Lord Cameron continued until ages 83 and 85 respectively). The Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993 lowered this to 70, but again was not retroactive so that those who had held judicial office before 31 March 1995 were grandfathered in. Lady Arden was the last such grandfathered member of the UKSC. The last overall was Sir James Holman, appointed a judge of the Family Division (EWHC) on 18 March 1995, who retired on 28 June.
The Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Act 2022 (which received Royal Assent on 10 March) raised the retirement age back to 75, and this time it was retroactive, so that those already in office can now serve an extra five years, and some who recently retired at age 70 (such as Lloyd-Jones and Richards) can come back for an encore.
Incidentally, I discovered these appointments through the Twitter feed CrownOffFOIDs. The name is a shorthand for “Crown Office Freedom of Information Disclosures”. This is the Crown Office in Chancery, a small section of the Ministry of Justice responsible for the production and management of certain state and royal documents. Whether the office itself, or a private citizen, is operating the Twitter account is not clear. The output includes photographs of the Great Seal of the Realm as well as many of the different types of document to which it may be attached. There are writs, warrants, patents and proclamations of a great many kinds, including the proclamation of the present monarch’s accession, which the Tweet notes is not as physically impressive as one might have expected.