Following a prolonged cabinet reshuffle early January, a new lord chancellor has been appointed. David Gauke replaces David Lidington as the 6th(!) lord chancellor in as many years. He also represents a return to legally qualified candidates, and is the first solicitor to hold the position.
Who is David Gauke?
David Gauke achieved his law degree at St Edmund Hall, Oxford in 1993, before completing his LPC with the College of Law (now University of Law) in Chester. He obtained a training contract with Richards Butler (now Reed Smith LLP) in 1995, and qualified as a solicitor in 1997. From 1999 to 2005 he worked at corporate law firm at Macfarlanes LLP, as a part of their financial services group.
His Parliamentary career began with his election as MP for Hertfordshire South in the 2005 general election. From there David’s Gauke’s political career has seen him in appointments such as the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury in 2010, Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2016, and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2017. He has now been appointed as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the first solicitor in history to hold the post.
What does this mean for law?
The churn continues!
As previously mentioned, this is the 6th Lord Chancellor in as many years (for some context the Lord Chancellor James Mackay, under the previous conservative government, held the office for 10 years until the Labour election win in 1997). This has meant that no Lord Chancellor has yet had the opportunity to leave a real impression on the office since the reforms imposed by Chris Grayling. This constant change in office has impeded attempts at reform and caused inertia within the department as each new appointment has to get up to speed; only for the whole process then start again.
However, the legal community have welcomed the news. His appointment breaks the run of four consecutive non-legally qualified lord chancellors. Both the Law Society and Chair to the Bar have expressed their congratulations, with the request the new lord chancellor take urgent review of access to justice and prison reform. Such attention could not come too soon, as David Gauke has already discovered having to immediately deal with the aftermath of the Parole Board decision to release John Worboys.
Upon his appointment David Gauke released the follow statement via Twitter;
“I am looking forward to meeting experts and front line staff to drive the crucial work started by my predecessors, to reform our prisons and courts, uphold the rule of law and promote our world-leading legal services.”
Joe Beet – OULS Editor