Lord Kerr is, at 61, the youngest Justice of the Supreme Court, and was the last Law Lord to be appointed before the new Supreme Court was created.
Brian Francis Kerr studied at St Colman’s College and Queen’s University Belfast. He was called to the bar in Northern Ireland in 1970 and in England and Wales in 1974. He was junior counsel to the Attorney General between 1978 and 1983 when he took silk. He became Senior Counsel to the Attorney General in 1988 which position he held until his appointment to the High Court Bench in March 1993. Lord Kerr was appointed as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland in 2004 and became the Northern Irish Law Lord on Lord Carswell’s retirement last year.
Lord Kerr sat as an “ad hoc” judge of the European Court of Human Rights, in the Heathrow aircraft noise case, Hatton v United Kingdom, Chamber Judgment of 2 October 2001 in which he dissented from the Third Section’s finding of a violation of Article 8. He was a member of the Grand Chamber which held that there was no violation of Article 8 but that there had been a violation of Article 13 with Lord Kerr dissenting on this latter finding.
In 2004 Lord Kerr gave evidence
to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitutional Reform Bill. In 2007 he explained, to a French audience, the effect of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 in a paper
entitled, “The Reality of Judicial Independence: The Lions under the Throne”.
On 7 October 2009, Lord Kerr gave a speech
on “Colloborative Law” to the London Collaborative Law Umbrella Group. On Friday 20 November 2009 he gave the 13th John M Kelly Memorial lecture
at the University College Dublin School of Law.
The lecture was entitled “The Conversation between the European Court of Human Rights and National Courts: Dialogue or Dictation” which was the subject of an earlier post
on this blog (although the full text is not yet available).
Lord Kerr has many duties and interests away from the bench. He is a regular speaker at various Irish universities, and has been chairman of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Commission, chairman of the Distinction and Meritorious Service Awards Committee for Northern Ireland, a member of the Judicial Studies Board for Northern Ireland and a member of the Franco-British Judicial Co-operation Committee. In 1999, he was an Eisenhower Exchange Fellow, travelling extensively in the United States and studying the administration of justice and court practice in America. In addition to Lord Kerr’s numerous committee positions, in 2009 he received
an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University at the Belfast School of Law. A video of the award ceremony – including Lord Kerr’s speech of thanks – can be seen here
Lord Kerr is married with two sons. His hobbies include travelling to France, and according to Who’s Who, ‘accepting defeat by sons at tennis’.