It has been announced by the Supreme Court that the Queen has signed a warrant “declaring that every Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will in future be styled as ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’”. This is a “courtesy title” – which the justice will have for life – but will not mean that he or she is appointed a Life Peer. This means that the most recently appointed Justice, Sir John Dyson, will now be known as Lord Dyson.  The Justice who is appointed in the current “recruitment round” to replace Lord Saville will be known as “Lord” or “Lady”, as will all future appointees.  This all seems very sensible.

The President of the Court, Lord Phillips, said

the appointment of colleagues who are not Life Peers has inevitably led to some confusion about the manner in which they should be described and addressed. This announcement is a welcome move to help us introduce consistency and avoid the complications of a variety of titles being employed

This change was urged by legal commentator, Joshua Rozenberg on his blog on 16 April 2010 shortly after Sir John Dyson’s appointment to the Supreme Court. As he pointed out the first instance judges of the Court of Session in Scotland had the courtesy title “Lord” – but have never been peers (or even knights). We understand that the other Justices have been unhappy about the position for some time. The change has taken nearly 8 months but, by the standards of English constitutional change is, in all the circumstances, relatively rapid.