Book Review

AuthorCHOO Han Teck LLB (Hons) (National University of Singapore), LLM (Cambridge); Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore.
Publication year2022
Citation(2022) 34 SAcLJ 10251
Published date01 March 2022
Date01 March 2022

1 Born in Leeds, on 31 January 1945, Brenda Marjorie Hale retired on 10 January 2020 as President of the Supreme Court of the UK, three weeks short of her 75th birthday. This book is the account of her life and transition from Richmond High School girl to the President of the Supreme Court of the UK. Together with her sisters, Jill and Frances, Brenda Hale benefitted much from schoolteacher parents, and a happy family life together. Although her first marriage — to Anthony Hoggett, with whom she had their daughter Julia — ended in divorce in 1992, she married again that same year to Julian Farrand, lawyer and chess player. With her many years' experience as a judge in the Family Court, Lady Hale understands and respects the privacy of the family, and that probably explains the minimal references to her family other than her parents and siblings in her childhood time.

2 Brenda Hale learned to love history and the romance of the English rebellion in the 17th century, and the significance of the Magna Carta led her to appreciate the ubiquity and pervasiveness of law in the lives of ordinary people — and that it would be “great fun to study”.2 That bright and optimistic idea of the law would soon be tempered by the realities of life, as Brenda Hale moved from academia into private practice, and then to the Judiciary, where she was to discover how law might present itself, in the words of Lon L Fuller, “in a bewildering array of moods”.3

3 The idea of studying law took Brenda Hale to Girton College, Cambridge. Those were the days (in 1963) where, as Brenda Hale found, male lecturers might refuse to discuss sexual offences “because there were women in the room”.4 Changes in thinking were inevitable, and by 1987, the UK saw the abolishment of the label “illegitimacy” — “there are no

illegitimate children, only unmarried parents”.5 The passion for the law, and perhaps with a sprinkling of the teaching DNA in her saw Brenda Hale spending 18 years as a lecturer at the University of Manchester. She had chosen Manchester because she had studied family law under the famous Peter Bromley,6 and tort law under Harry Street7 there.

4 In 1967 when Brenda Hale decided to gain admission to the Bar, applicants still had to eat 36 dinners at the Inns of Court, and in her case, Brenda Hale chose Gray's Inn because she knew people there, not least her fellow lecturer and soon-to-be husband, John Hoggett. She was admitted to the Bar, having filled herself with the requisite meals at Gray's Inn, in 1969, a year after she and Hoggett married. By 2017, the meals at the Inns had been replaced by more structured “Qualifying Sessions”, but to those like Brenda Hale, fellowship forged over meals created a layer of almost indelible memories. Nonetheless, Lady Hale, as Brenda Hale was addressed when she became a Justice of the Supreme Court, thinks that this was a change for the better. The Qualifying Sessions ensured that the junior most in the profession got to meet the senior most, and instead of loose, unstructured conversations over meals, they listened to...

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