Lord Hope of Craighead is Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court, second only to Lord Phillips, and is one of two Scottish Justices of the UK Supreme Court.
Born James Arthur David Hope in Edinburgh in 1938, Lord Hope comes from a long line of Edinburgh lawyers. His father practised as a solicitor in Edinburgh. After attending Edinburgh Academy and Rugby School, Lord Hope undertook his national service obligations as part of the Seaforth Highlanders. He left in 1959 after rising to the rank of lieutenant, and upon his return to the UK studied at Cambridge (St John’s College) where he gained a BA in Classics. Lord Hope then went on to complete his LLB at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated in 1965.
After graduating from Edinburgh, Lord Hope’s legal career took off almost immediately. Called to the Scottish bar in 1965, he spent several years building up a commercial practice. He worked as standing junior counsel in Scotland to the Board of the Inland Revenue between 1974 and 1978, before taking silk in 1978. Between 1978 and 1982, Lord Hope worked as an Advocate Depute (Crown Prosecutor) and so has had a considerable amount of exposure to criminal work. In 1985/6 he was the chairman of both the Medical Appeal Tribunal and the Pensions Appeal Tribunal before being elected as Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in 1986.
The standard step from this position is to that of a Lord Ordinary at first instance. However, Lord Hope managed to ‘skip’ this step: in 1989 he was appointed as Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General. Lord Hope was also made a Privy Counsellor in 1989.
During Lord Hope’s occupancy of Lord President, he controversially permitted an experiment in televising trials in Scottish courts. This was done for documentary purposes, and while it did not result in regular broadcasts taking place, it was seen as a bold move. In retrospect, it looks like a decision that was ahead of its time as 17 years later, the Supreme Court has now decided to televise its hearings as part of an attempt to become more transparent.
In 1996, Lord Hope retired as Lord President and became a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. He has since then become Dean and a Fellow of the University of Strathclyde, has sat on the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, and has been awarded the David Kelbie award by the Institute of Contemporary Scotland. On 30 November 2009, Lord Hope received the Order of the Thistle
in recognition of his commitment to public life. The Order is the highest honour in Scotland and is second in the UK only to the Order of the Garter.
Lord Hope resides in Camden whilst working in London, but returns to Edinburgh whenever possible, and considers Edinburgh “home”. He is a member of The New Club in Edinburgh, and enjoys walking, ornithology and music. An Episcopalian, Lord Hope is married to Katherine Mary Kerr and has twin sons and a daughter.