The Northern Circuit is 840 years old dating back to 1176 when King Henry II sent his judges on Circuit to do justice in his name. The Circuit encompassed the whole of the North of England but was divided in 1876. That part to the west of the Pennines retained the old name and the land to the east became the territory of the North Eastern Circuit. Both Circuits have much in common and happily have maintained strong links. Since 2005 the Circuit has been strengthened by the welcome addition of members of the Chester Bench and Bar.
In 1876, 62 members of the Bar had chambers on the Circuit. There were 29 in Liverpool, 32 in Manchester and just one in Preston. Now we are over 1100 strong, 1250 if you count the judges and those who have retired.
There are and have been many famous Circuiteers. F E Smith and Hartley Shawcross were household names. Others who attained high distinction outside of the law were John Buchan, W S Gilbert, and James Boswell, the biographer of Dr Johnson and a Junior of the Circuit. I have been proud to present them and over 3000 more Circuiteers in my “Directory of the Northern Circuit 1876-2004.”
Since 1876 the Circuit which presently comprises 10 per cent of the Bar has produced the following judges:- Lord Chancellor (3) : Law Lord (7) : Deputy President of the Supreme Court (1): Lord Chief Justice (3) : Master of the Rolls (3) : President, Queen’s Bench Division (1): President, Probate, Divorce & Admiralty Division (5) : Lord Justice of Appeal (26) : Lady Justice of Appeal (2) : High Court Judge (89)
In 1994 there were five women High Court Judges. Four were Northern Circuiteers following the fine example of the late Rose Heilbron who was the first from the Circuit 20 years earlier. That fine tradition was maintained in 2004 by the appointment to the House of Lords of Baroness Hale of Richmond. Another first for the Circuit.
On the 2nd November 2013, a congratulatory dinner was held at Middle Temple Hall to mark an occasion unique in the Circuit’s long and distinguished history – the appointment during 2013 of 7 Circuiteers to high judicial office. Baroness Hale was appointed Deputy President of the Supreme Court and Lord Justice Leveson became President of the Queen’s Bench Division. Lord Justice Ryder went to the Court of Appeal and Mark Turner QC, His Honour Stephen Stewart QC, Frances Patterson QC were appointed to the Queen’s Bench Division with Anthony Hayden QC going to the Family Division of the High Court. We were delighted to have had the news of the appointment to the Queen’s Bench Division of His Honour Judge Gilbart QC, the Honorary Recorder of Manchester and look forward to his swearing in very soon.
On the 1st November 2014 the Circuit returned to Middle Temple Hall for a dinner to mark the appointment to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of His Honour Judge Andrew Gilbart QC and Andrew Edis QC.
We compliment the three Circuiteers who have had the rank of Queen’s Counsel conferred upon them at Westminster Hall on 22 February 2016. They are Mark Harper QC, Simon Kilvington QC and David Mohyuddin QC.
These facts and figures demonstrate the strength and depth of the Northern Circuit. We continue to attract talented and industrious men and women who will uphold the high standards and fine traditions of this great Circuit.
His Honour David Lynch
Northern Circuit Remembrancer
01 November 2016