Lord, Sir Woolf of Barnes

Areas of Interest

Law, Politics and Government

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Laws, 1994


Lord Woolf was called to the Bar in 1955 and from 1973-74 was junior counsel, Inland Revenue. In 1974 he was appointed first Treasury Counsel, appearing in many of the most important cases of the period on behalf of the Government.

He was appointed to the Queen's Bench of the High Court in 1979, became a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1986 and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1992. Between 1996 and 2000 he held the position of Master of the Rolls and in 2000 was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, a position from which he retired in September 2005. Lord Woolf is a Privy Counsellor. He continues to be a part time judge of the Appellate Committee of the House of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Lord Woolf has a long-standing interest in alternative dispute resolution and mediation. His report, Access to Justice, 1996 was generally acknowledged to have transformed Civil Procedure in England and Wales and been a catalyst for the development of ADR in England. In 1990 he made the "Strangeways Report" into the British Prison System for the Government, which is still regarded as a blue print for a secure, efficient and humane rehabilitative Prison System.

Chairman of the Bank of England's Financial Market's Law Committee, Lord Woolf is also joint editor of a standard text book on judicial review (De Smith, Woolf and Jowell), has written numerous articles for legal journals and frequently speaks at conferences around the world. He is Chairman of the sub-committee of the House of Lords on Parliamentary Standards and a member of the House of Lords Committee on the Constitution.

In 1994 The Rt Hon Lord Woolf of Barnes was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws.


"Sir Harry Woolf, educated at University College London, was called to the Bar Inner Temple in 1954 and started to practice in 1956 after two years of National Service in the 15/19th Royal Hussars. After serving as a Recorder of the Crown Court, as Junior Counsel, he became a Judge of the High Court of Justice Queens Bench division in 1979. He was knighted in 1979 and became a Privy Counsellor in 1986, at which date he also was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal.

Perhaps he is best known to the general public for his wide-ranging inquiry into the Strangeways Prison disturbances in 1990 and the resulting involuntary and challenging reports in co-operation with Judge Tumin.

Lord Justice Woolf has always taken a keen interest in education, was President of the Association of Law Teachers from 1985-89 and since 1986 has been a member of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education. At a more parochial level, he played a significant role in the formative years of Anglia's Law School and has sustained interest in its development.

It is in recognition of his distinguished legal career, his commitment to furthering education, and above all his human contributions to the reform of the penal system that the University is honoured to award Lord Justice Woolf the Honorary degree of Doctor of Laws."