Robert Buckland sworn in as fifth Lord Chancellor in four years

The fifth Lord Chancellor in four years has been welcomed to the role by leading figures in the legal profession.

Former criminal barrister Robert Buckland, who was previously Solicitor General, was sworn in to the ancient office at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday morning.

Mr Buckland, who was recently promoted to Justice Secretary, became the first Lord Chancellor to swear his oath of office in Welsh as well as in English.

The colourful ceremony was attended by leading members of the judiciary, including Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale.

Lord Chancellor swearing-in ceremony
Robert Buckland QC (right) with Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett of Maldon (left) and Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton (centre), before his swearing-in ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mr Buckland’s Cabinet colleagues, Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson were also present.

Lord Burnett welcomed Mr Buckland to the role of Lord Chancellor, which he described as “one of the most historic in the land” and one of “great constitutional importance”.

He added: “At a time of political and constitutional flux, the rule of law remains the bedrock upon which our civil society is built.

“The constitutional role ascribed to the Lord Chancellor … has never been more important.”

Lord Chancellor swearing-in ceremony
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland with Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mr Buckland, 50, who was elected in 2010 as Conservative MP for South Swindon, was appointed Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary last week – replacing David Gauke, who resigned so as not to serve under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He is the seventh appointee to the office, which can be traced back to before the Norman Conquest, since the Conservatives first came to power in coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

In an oak-panelled courtroom, Mr Buckland, dressed in traditional gold and black robes, took his oath and pledged to respect the rule of law, defend judicial independence and ensure effective support for the courts.

He also thanked his predecessor, Mr Gauke, “for his deep commitment to supporting the judiciary and the rule of law”.

The Lord Mayor’s Banquet
Robert Buckland’s predecessor as Lord Chancellor, David Gauke, resigned rather than serve under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Mr Buckland added that Tuesday marked “exactly 70 years since the coming into force of the 1949 Legal Aid and Advice Act”.

He said: “Having practised predominantly in cases involving criminal legal aid, I remain of the belief that, as far as possible, the right support must be provided to those who need it.”

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC said he was “delighted to welcome” Mr Buckland to his new role.

He added that he hoped he would occupy the position for “a long time to come”, but joked that that was “a pleasant thought, but not very realistic”.

Tory leadership race
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said he was ‘delighted to welcome’ Robert Buckland as the new Lord Chancellor (Aaron Chown/PA)

Richard Atkins, chairman of the Bar Council, said: “I am genuinely delighted to welcome him today and hope, given the alleged current political volatility, that now I have joined the party to welcome a Lord Chancellor I am not the first chair of the Bar to welcome two in a year.”

At the same ceremony, Michael Ellis QC was sworn in as the new Solicitor General.

Mr Ellis was also previously a barrister, having been called to the Bar in 1993.

Mr Buckland became Solicitor General in July 2014 after serving on the Justice Select Committee and was appointed Prisons Minister in May 2019.

The ceremony was attended by Mr Buckland’s wife and children, and by Mr Ellis’s parents and siblings.

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