Profiles: Lord Carnwath of Notting Hill
05 Thursday Jul 2012
EARLY LEGAL CAREER
Lord Carnwath was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1968. During his career at the Bar Lord Carnwath specialised in local government, planning and environment law, areas that have continued to be of interest to him throughout his career.
Between 1980 and 1985, Lord Carnwath was Junior Counsel to the Inland Revenue. He took silk in 1985.
In 1988 Lord Carnwath was appointed as Attorney General to the Prince of Wales, a position he held until 1994. Upon termination of this role Lord Carnwath was made a Companion of the Victorian Order.
A former member of Landmark Chambers, Lord Carnwath established the Chambers’ practice in administrative law. Significantly, he completed the Carnwath Report on the Enforcement of Planning Control for the Department of the Environment; the main recommendations of which were enacted in the Planning and Compensation Act 1991, paving the way for major reform in the planning enforcement system.
During his career at the bar, Lord Carnwath also served for a period as Chairman of the Administrative Bar Association.
APPOINTMENT AS A JUSTICE
Lord Carnwath joined the judiciary in 1994 as a high court judge of the Chancery Division where he remained until 2001. For the last three of these years he also held the position of Chairman of the Law Commission of England and Wales.
In 2001 Lord Carnwath was appointed to the Court of Appeal (Civil) and in 2004 he became the first Senior President of the Tribunals. One of Lord Carnwath’s key successes as Senior President of the Tribunals was integrating the Tribunals of England and Wales into the court service following the Leggatt Report, during a period of both cuts and change.
In addition, whilst sitting in the Court of Appeal, Lord Carnwath gave the leading judgment in the Westmill Landfill Group Litigation case of Barr v Biffa  EWCA Civ 312.
Lord Carnwath has a significant interest in environment law. Since 2002 he has participated in a judicial task force developing a programme to improve the understanding and practice of environmental issues among judges across the world. He was also the joint founder of the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment and held the position of Secretary General for this EU Forum between 2004 and 2005. In addition, Lord Carnwath has been the president of the UK Environmental Law Association since 2006, as well as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Environmental Law.
This continuing interest in environment law is further demonstrated by Lord Carnwath’s recent attendance at the world congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability. The congress, held in Rio de Janeiro, was hosted by the UN environment programme and attended by judges, prosecutors, public auditors and enforcement agencies from approximately 60 countries.
A keen member of the Bach Choir and a renowned viola player, Lord Carnwath also enjoys both tennis and golf. Lord Carnwath is also the former chairman of the Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association.
APPOINTMENT TO THE SUPREME COURT
Appointed to the Supreme Court aged 66, Lord Carnwath can remain a justice of the Supreme Court until he is 75. His appointment follows the retirement of Lord Brown earlier this year.
In accepting his post, Lord Carnwath commented: “It is a great honour to be selected for the Supreme Court. I see it also as recognition of the central importance in the justice system of the tribunals judiciary, whom I have been privileged to lead as Senior President for the last seven years.”