The Right Honorable Harold Woolf

Former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Honorable Harry Kenneth Woolf, Baron Woolf, PC, FBA, born 2 May 1933, was Master of the Rolls from 1996 until 2000 and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2000 until 2005. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 made him the first Lord Chief Justice to be President of the Courts of England and Wales. He has been a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong since 2003.

Justice Woolf chose to be a barrister in 1955 and started working on the Oxford circuit. He became Junior Counsel to the Inland Revenue (Common Law) from 1973-74, and was First Treasury Counsel (Common Law) from 1974-79. In 1979, aged 45, he was appointed as a Queen's Bench Division High Court judge. He was promoted to Lord Justice of Appeal in 1986 and became a Law Lord in 1992, being created a life peer as Baron Woolf of Barnes in the London Borough of Richmond. He was Master of the Rolls from 1996, until 2000 when he succeeded Lord Bingham of Cornhill as Lord Chief Justice.

Justice Woolf was also the head of the committee that reformed civil law and excised many of the remaining Latin terms from English law, in an attempt to make it more accessible (such as changing the word "plaintiff" to "claimant"). The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 are a direct result of his work. He supported prison reform and is patron of the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust and an Ambassador for the Prison Advice and Care Trust. Justice Woolf joined Blackstone Chambers as a mediator and arbitrator on his retirement as Lord Chief Justice on 1 October 2005. From September to December 2005, he conducted a review of the working methods of the European Court of Human Rights, and he is chairman of the Bank of England Financial Markets Law Committee. He is Chairman of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and became Chairman of the Council of UCL in 2005.

He is also a visiting Professor of Law at UCL, and a member of the House of Lords Constitution Committee. In 2006 he was appointed chairman of the Judging Panel of the FIRST Responsible Capitalism Awards. On 25 February 2007, Justice Woolf was inaugurated as the first President of the Qatar Financial Centre Civil and Commercial Court, in Doha Qatar, and on 15 June 2007, he was confirmed as the chair of an "Ethics Committee" set up by BAE Systems, the UK's largest arms company. The committee was formed by BAE in response to allegations of multimillion pound bribery in arms deals with Saudi Arabia. In 2007 he was named as co-chair, with Professor Kaufmann-Kohler, of the Commission on Settlement in International Arbitration, for the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution for which he also consults. Along with Sir William Blair, a prominent High Court Judge in England and Wales, Justice Woolf served as the Co-Convener of the inaugural Qatar Law Forum of Global Leaders in Law, held in Doha, Qatar, from 29?31 May 2009. Among his variety of posts, Justice Woolf has also been serving as Chancellor of the Open University of Israel since 2004.