Born on 23 September 1946, Roger Grenfell Toulson was on Tuesday formally appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court alongside Lord Justice Hughes.  Lord Toulson will succeed Lord Walker, a distinguished Chancery specialist, who retired as a Justice on 17 March 2013 after 3 and a half years in the post.


Educated at Mill Hill School in North London, Roger Toulson was a prodigious student who won the school’s top entrance scholarship.  He sat his ‘O’ levels and ‘A’ Levels (in Greek, Latin and Ancient History) three years early at the ages of 13 and 15 respectively.

A keen junior athlete, Lord Toulson also broke his school’s record for running a mile.  At the age of 16 he went on to study Law at Jesus College, Cambridge where he now serves as an Honorary Fellow.

Legal career

Lord Toulson was called to the Bar by The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 1969, after which he joined the Western Circuit.  After working as a barrister for a number of years, he became a QC in 1986 and a bencher of Inner Temple in 1995.  .

In 1996, Lord Toulson was promoted to the High Court of Justice in the Queen’s Bench Division.  He was thereafter made the presiding judge on the Western Circuit, until being appointed in 2002 as the Chairman of the Law Commission of England and Wales.

Following his promotion to the Court of Appeal in 2007, Lord Toulson was also appointed as a member of the Privy Council and the Judicial Appointments Commission, the panel which is charged with selecting new judges in England and Wales.

In 2006 he co-authored a textbook on the English law of confidentiality with Charles Phipps, a colleague from his days at 4 New Square (the Chambers which Lord Toulson used to head).

Last year, Lord Toulson gave the leading High Court judgment in the widely reported ‘right to die’ joined cases of R (on the application of Nicklinson) v Ministry Of Justice; and R (on the application of AM) v Director of Public Prosecutions and Others [2012] EWHC 2381 (Admin) (2012) PLLR 120.  In the judgment he commented “Tony’s and Martin’s circumstances are deeply moving. Their desire to have control over the ending of their lives demands the most careful and sympathetic consideration, but there are also other important issues to consider. A decision to allow their claims would have consequences far beyond the present cases… It is not for the court to decide whether the law about assisted dying should be changed and, if so, what safeguards should be put in place. Under our system of government these are matters for Parliament to decide, representing society as a whole, after Parliamentary scrutiny, and not for the court on the facts of an individual case or cases.”

Outside the law

Lord Toulson is also a supporter of the Marriage Foundation, a campaign group whose aims are to reduce the number of relationships which break down and increase public understanding of the nature and benefits of marriage.  His hobbies include skiing, tennis and gardening.

His appointment

Commenting on the news of his appointment to the Supreme Court, 66 year old Lord Toulson said:

“I am extremely fortunate to become a member of the court which has supreme responsibility, subject to Parliament, for upholding and developing the law in the UK, and deeply conscious of my obligations to the judicial system and the public which it serves.”