‘Modern and simple terminology’ to be adopted for judges

updated on 05 December 2022

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Lawyers and litigants have been told to address judges in court or at hearings simply as ‘judge’, instead of ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ as part of new guidance.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett said the move “involves modern and simple terminology” while still “maintaining the necessary degree of respect”.

The name change is hoped to prevent misgendering of judges and ensure clarity in the courtroom. Lord Burnett, alongside Sir Keith Lindblom, senior president of tribunals, added: “We also hope this change in language will assist litigants in person involved in court and tribunal proceedings.”

The title change applies to judges in categories including:

  • masters;
  • upper tribunal judges;
  • judges of the Employment Appeal Tribunal;
  • district judges;
  • district judges (magistrates courts);
  • first-tier tribunal judges; and
  • employment judges.

The following will keep their existing titles in court:

  • circuit judges will remain ‘your Honour’; and
  • High Court judges, Court of Appeal judges will remain Lord or Lady.

The new guidance hopes to bring clarity and inclusivity to the forefront of courtrooms.