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Brian Kerr, Baron Kerr of Tonaghmore

Supreme Court Justice Brian Francis Kerr, Baron Kerr of Tonaghmore, Kt PC (born 22 February 1948), is a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. He pronounces his name to rhyme with "Cur".[1]


The Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore

Lord-Kerr (cropped).jpg
Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Assumed office
1 October 2009
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byPosition created
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
29 June 2009 – 30 September 2009
Preceded byThe Lord Carswell
Succeeded byPosition eliminated
Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland
In office
2004–2009
Appointed byElizabeth II
Preceded bySir Robert Carswell
Succeeded bySir Declan Morgan
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal (Judicial Peer)
In office
29 June 2009 – 1 October 2009
Personal details
Born (1948-02-22) 22 February 1948 (age 71)
NationalityBritish, Irish
Spouse(s)Gillian Widdowson
Children2
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Brian Kerr was born on 22 February 1948 to James William Kerr and Kathleen Rose (née Murray) Kerr, of Lurgan, County Armagh.[2]

He was educated at St Colman's College, Newry and read law at Queen's University Belfast. He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1970, and to the Bar of England and Wales at Gray's Inn in 1974.[3] He took silk in 1983 and became a member of the King's Inns in 1990, and an Honorary Bencher of Gray's Inn in 1997 and the King's Inns in 2004. He served as Junior Crown Counsel (Common Law) from 1978 to 1983 and Senior Crown Counsel from 1988 to 1993.[2]

Judicial careerEdit

In 1993, Brian Kerr was appointed a Judge of the High Court and knighted, and in 2004 was appointed Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland,[2][3] only the second Roman Catholic to hold the position,[4] and sworn of the Privy Council.[5]

As is tradition for the Lord Chief Justice,[6] he succeeded Lord Carswell as the Northern Irish Lord of Appeal in Ordinary upon the latter's retirement.[3]

On 29 June 2009, he was created Baron Kerr of Tonaghmore, of Tonaghmore in the County of Down, and was introduced to the House of Lords the same day. He was the last person to be appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (and therefore the last to be given a law life peerage under the 1876 Act), and on 1 October 2009 he became one of the inaugural Justices of the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. He was also the youngest member, at age 61.[7] He was succeeded as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland on 3 July 2009 by Sir Declan Morgan.[8]

Lord Kerr dissented from the controversial judgment of the Supreme Court in R v Gnango, in which the court held that a person could be an accessory to their own murder.[9]

In 2014, Ulster University awarded Lord Kerr an honorary doctorate in law.[10]

Selected casesEdit

Personal lifeEdit

He is married to Gillian, Lady Kerr (née Widdowson) and has two sons. He is a Roman Catholic.[11][4][12]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "UK Supreme Court Judgments 26th June 2013 - Part 1". UK Supreme Court YouTube. UK Supreme Court. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2015. "The judgment in this case will be given by Lord Kerr", spoken in the presence of Lord Kerr by his colleague Lord Neuberger.
  2. ^ a b c A & C Black (December 2008). "KERR, Rt Hon. Sir Brian (Francis)'". Who's Who. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "Appointment of two Lords of Appeal in Ordinary". 10 Downing Street. 8 April 2009. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Sir Brian Kerr to take NI Chief Justice job". The Irish Times. Dublin: Irish Times Trust. 11 January 2004. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Privy Council Appointment (Sir Brian Francis Kerr)". 10 Downing Street. 6 February 2004. Archived from the original on 9 September 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  6. ^ "Sir Brian Kerr Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland". London, UK: The Times. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  7. ^ "Sir Brian is last ever Law Lord". BBC News Online. 29 June 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland". 10 Downing Street. 18 June 2009. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  9. ^ R v Gnango [2011] UKSC 59 (14 December 2011)
  10. ^ University, Ulster (7 November 2016). "Inspiring Excellence: University of Ulster Honorary Graduates". Archived from the original on 28 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Catholic appointed new lord chief justice". The Irish News. 12 December 2003. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  12. ^ Harris, Eoghan (17 December 2017). "Tubridy tries to have it both ways on the royal wedding". Irish Independent. Dublin: Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Carswell
Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland
2004–2009
Succeeded by
Sir Declan Morgan