Ms Justice

How to address judges

This is now outdated. There is now a Ms Justice.

A high court judge, Alison Russell, QC, has become the first to be formally addressed as Ms Justice after being given permission to use the title in court.

Judges in the high court are normally referred to as Mr Justice or Mrs Justice but Russell, who joined the bench full time in January and specialises in family law, was allowed to update the traditional form.

They have been called Mrs Justice before, whether married or not, because Miss Justice sounds like misjustice.

But then there was a time when Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was called 'Lord Butler-Sloss'.

Dame Elizabeth, who is sister to the late Lord Chancellor, Lord Havers, and aunt to the actor Nigel Havers, became a High Court judge in 1979 at the age of 46. In 1988 she broke new ground when she was appointed to the Court of Appeal. She was called Lord Justice Butler-Sloss and "My Lord" for six years until the then Master of the Rolls, Sir Thomas Bingham, said that she could be called Lady Justice Butler-Sloss.

One question is why indicate a judge's sex at all. I see that if a text refers to Mrs Justice or Ms Justice, you know it's a woman judge. It may be a good thing that people realize that female judges exist, or it may be unnecessary discrimination. In a German text, it would always be 'die Richterin'. I remember correcting students for translating that as 'the woman judge' (a colleague famously took a mark off for just writing 'the judge' and thus missing out part of the meaning).

The translation question also arises with 'Frau Schmidt' and so on, where the translation needs an English title ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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