Former Macfarlanes and Richards Butler solicitor David Gauke has been appointed Lord Chancellor in this week’s cabinet reshuffle, just six months after the previous incumbent took office.
Gauke had been the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since June 2017, and Chief Secretary to the Treasury since July 2016. He has been the MP for South West Hertfordshire since 2005. He studied law at Oxford University before training at Richards Butler, later joining the financial services group at City firm Macfarlanes.
His predecessor, David Lidington, was appointed to Cabinet Office Secretary, replacing Damian Green.
The role of Lord Chancellorship has a rapid turnover. Lidington replaced Liz Truss as Lord Chancellor just six months ago. Truss was in the role for 11 months. Her predecessor, Michael Gove, occupied the post for one year and four months.
Commenting on the appointment, the Chair of the Bar, Andrew Walker QC, said:
‘The Bar Council warmly congratulates David Gauke on his appointment. We look forward to working with the new Lord Chancellor to ensure access to justice is available to all, to ensure that the system for securing the administration of justice is resourced properly and functioning effectively, and to achieve fair and sustainable public funding arrangements for advocacy and legal advice. These matter because they underpin the rule of law and our constitutional principles which the Lord Chancellor has a special responsibility to uphold.
Following significant cutbacks in the provision of legal aid over several years it is vital that the Ministry of Justice completes the thorough review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act to which it is already committed, to ensure that the public interest in the provision of high quality and efficient legal services is addressed. The global reputation of the UK’s legal services sector, which is underpinned by the independence of our judiciary, are hugely important national assets which must be defended. That is why is it is so important that the court transformation programme is managed well and addresses the needs of all stakeholders. We wish the Lord Chancellor well in addressing the demanding challenges that lie ahead.’
Law Society president, Joe Egan, said:
‘We congratulate David Gauke on being appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
The Lord Chancellor plays a vital role in upholding the rule of law and providing support to the legal sector.
David Gauke will be inheriting the role at a time of challenge for the legal sector. Priorities include promoting access to justice, ensuring the viability of legal aid and delivering an effective court modernisation programme.
In addition, the Lord Chancellor will be a prominent voice as we seek to gain the best possible deal for the UK legal sector in the Government’s negotiations for a new relationship with the European Union post-Brexit.
We look forward to creating a close and effective working relationship with the new Lord Chancellor to build on the successes of the legal sector.’