Masters of the Bench
The Rt Hon Lady Justice Thirlwall DBE
Full Title: The Rt Hon Lady Justice Thirlwall DBECategory: Ordinary Bencher
Bench Call Date: 1.4.2008
Call Date: 29.7.1982
Kate Thirlwall is the first woman from Middle Temple to be appointed to the Court of Appeal. She is currently Deputy Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales. She chairs a number of committees dealing with court performance and the modernisation of the courts.
She is a member of the Finance Committee of Middle Temple and Joint Master of Moots.
Kate was educated at St Anthony’s School in Sunderland and read Modern Languages (French and Spanish) at Bristol University. She took the CPE at Newcastle Poly in 1981 and moved to London to read for the Bar. She had the good fortune to apply for pupillage in the year that five sets of chambers set up an award scheme and applied to them all. She became a pupil at 2 Crown Office Row, now 7 Bedford Row, where she practised for 27 years. She was Head of Chambers from 2007 until her appointment to the High Court in 2010.
At the Bar, Kate had a common law practice. As a junior she had a mixed practice in crime and civil and then in silk she practised mainly in clinical and other professional negligence, specialising in group litigation.
She appeared in several Public Inquiries, including the Leicestershire Children’s Homes Inquiry and the North Wales Children’s Homes Inquiry. Between 2009 - 2010 she chaired a major NHS Inquiry into deaths of patients at Airedale Hospital.
From 1999 to 2005 she served as a member and vice-chair of the Bar Council’s Professional Standards Committee, and from 2003 - 2005 she chaired its Working Group on money laundering. She also served on the Rules Committee of the BSB.
From 2011 to 2013 Kate was Chair of Magistrates Training and a member of the Board of the Judicial College. Between January 2012 and December 2015 she served as the Presiding Judge of the Midland Circuit. In 2016 she was appointed to the Sentencing Council where she served until her appointment to the Court of Appeal in February 2017.
Kate lives in North London and is married to Professor Charles Kelly. She has two grown up children. No one would describe her as a domestic goddess.