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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Lord Chief Justice standing down
Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf
Lord Woolf was due for retirement in 2003 but postponed it
Lord Woolf is spending his last day as Lord Chief Justice after five years as the top judge in England and Wales.

The 72-year-old judge is being replaced by current Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, on Monday.

Lord Woolf was due to retire in 2003 but said he stayed on to see through the government's constitutional reform.

He also presides over the Queen's Bench Division but Lord Justice Judge will fill the new role of President of the Queen's Bench Division from Monday.

In recent years, the Lord Chief Justice has concentrated on hearing criminal appeals and setting sentencing guidelines.

Lord Phillips will take a wider role, hearing the most important civil and family appeals and presiding over the criminal division of the Court of Appeal.

Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which comes into force next year, the Lord Chief Justice, as president of the courts, becomes responsible for "representing the views of the judiciary of England and Wales to Parliament, to the Lord Chancellor and to ministers''.

Lord Phillips
Lord Phillips is well-known for cycling to court

He can also "lay before Parliament written representations on matters that appear to him to be matters of importance relating to the judiciary, or... the administration of justice''.

Lord Phillips is expected to have a staff of about 60.

That compares with the 12 people Lord Woolf has working for him.

Apart from sitting as a Law Lord, as an appeal judge for a month next year in Hong Kong and continuing to speak in House of Lords debates, Lord Woolf is going to work at his alma mater, University College London.

He will also become special adviser to and the first chairman of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution's new international arm, the International Conflict Management Advisory Group.

Lord Woolf will also join the independent not-for-profit commercial dispute resolution organisation's senior mediation panel.

Nicholas Addison Phillips, 67, was chairman of the inquiry into BSE. He is said to be popular among lawyers and pioneered using computers in court.

Complex cases

Lord Phillips was called to the bar in 1962, took silk in 1978 and became a Recorder in 1982.

He became a High Court judge in 1987 and an appeal court judge in 1995, later becoming a Lord of Appeal in 1999 and Master of the Rolls - in charge of the civil division of the court of appeal - in 2000.

As an appeal court judge, he presided over long and complex trials including that of the Maxwell brothers and the case of investment company Barlow Clowes.

He was made a Law Lord in January 1999 and is also well-known for cycling to and from court.

He is being replaced as Master of the Rolls by Lord Justice Clarke.

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08 Nov 04 |  Politics


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