Masters of the Bench
Dame Margaret Booth DBE
Full Title: Dame Margaret Booth DBECategory: Senior Benchers
Bench Call Date: 22.1.1979
Call Date: 1.5.1956
Margaret Booth was Called to the Bar on 1 May 1956. Educated at Northwood College and University College London, where she took her LLM, she specialised in family law. She took Silk in 1976 and shortly afterwards was elected Chair of the Family Law Bar Association.
She was appointed a High Court Judge (Family Division) in 1979; the third woman, after Elizabeth Lane and Rose Heilbron, to be appointed to the High Court Bench. She sat until her retirement in 1994. She was elected the first woman Bencher in 1979.
Margaret was awarded an Honorary LLD by the University of Liverpool in 1992; she served as Vice-President of its Council from 1996-99. She became a Fellow of University College London in 1992, and is President of the Family and Parenting Institute.
She founded the Joseph Jackson Memorial Fund in 1987, to provide Scholarships and Prizes for students of family law at Middle Temple.
After her retirement from the Bench, she voiced her concerns about the present Family Court and, in particular, its ability to make suitable provision for children. Speaking at a reception in 2002 to discuss a recent conference on a therapeutic approach to family justice, she said that our system was decades behind those of Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Norway – especially when it came to involving fathers in their children’s upbringing. ‘It is really a shame,’ she said, ‘that this country is so insular and does not learn from what others have been doing successfully for so long. I believe quite profoundly... that the time has come to remove our blinkers.’
Margaret was the co-editor of Rayden on Divorce (10th-13th editions) and the chief editor of the 15th and 16th editions. She was also co-editor of Clarke Hall & Morrison on Children (1977). She was a familiar face at the Reform Club for many years.