Home > News > Former UK Supreme Court Justice Lord Carnwath joins Landmark Chambers

Landmark Chambers is delighted to announce that Robert Carnwath (Rt Hon Lord Carnwath of Notting Hill CVO) is to join Chambers as an Associate Member, as from 1 September 2020.

At Landmark Chambers, he will be available to undertake professional engagements (including arbitrations, expert determinations, mediations, or reports). He will seek to focus on his main areas of interest and expertise:  environmental law and climate change, property and planning law, local government and administrative law, and Privy Council work.

Lord Carnwath will maintain his links and work with international organisations involved in promoting environmental law, with a particular emphasis on climate change. He hopes to take an active part in the preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference UK (COP26), previously due to take place in Glasgow in November 2020, but now postponed to 2021.

Career at the Bar

Lord Carnwath was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1968 and joined 2 Paper Buildings (2PB) (one of the predecessor sets of Landmark Chambers). He practised mainly in planning and local government law, social security and administrative law. Between 1980 and 1985, he was Junior Counsel to the Inland Revenue. He took silk in 1985. He took part in a number of major inquiries and Parliamentary proceedings relating to major infrastructure projects, including for the Department of Transport and Transport for London.  Between 1988 and 1994 he acted for and advised the Hong Kong Government on issues relating to compulsory purchase, property and rating law.  In 1989 he completed the Carnwath Report on the Enforcement of Planning Control for the Department of the Environment; the main recommendations of which were enacted in the Planning and Compensation Act 1991, paving the way for major reform in the planning enforcement system. In 1988, he was appointed as Attorney General to the Prince of Wales, for which service in 1994 he was made a Companion of the Victorian Order.

He was a founder member and first Treasurer of the Administrative Law Bar Association.

Judicial Career

Lord Carnwath joined the judiciary in 1994 as a High Court Judge of the Chancery Division where he remained until 2001, sitting also in the Administrative Court. For the last three of these years he also held the position of Chairman of the Law Commission of England and Wales, where he led or contributed to a number of law reform projects, including reports on the law of Compulsory Purchase, Land Registration, Damages under the Human Rights Act, and Partnership law.

In 2001 Lord Carnwath was appointed to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division), in which he sat until 2012. He wrote many leading judgments, particularly on planning, property, and administrative law. In 2004 he was invited by the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, to act as Shadow Senior President of Tribunals, to lead the reform of the system of specialist tribunals, as proposed by Sir Andrew Leggatt in his report, Tribunals for Users. Over the following 8 years he acted as judicial leader for the complete restructuring of these tribunals into a unified system, and its eventual integration with the courts. In 2007 he was appointed first statutory President of Tribunals under the Tribunal, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

In April 2012 he joined the Supreme Court, where he continued to sit until his retirement in March 2020. He has given many leading judgments both in the UK Supreme Court, and in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, particularly on issues relating to planning and the environment, property, rating, local government and administrative law.

Lord Carnwath is Honorary President of the UK Environmental Law Association, and of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association. He has also taken an active role in promoting knowledge of environment law worldwide (working with organisations such as UN Environment and the Asian Development Bank), and has participated in numerous judicial conferences in different parts of the world. In 2005 he was joint founder, and first Secretary-General, of the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE).  In 2015 he organised and co-hosted (jointly with Kings College London, and the Foreign Office) a conference in London on Climate Change and the Law. He has also taken an active interest in the law in other Commonwealth jurisdictions, and has spoken at conferences of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association and the Commonwealth Law Association.

He is an Honorary Professor of Law of University College London, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Outside the law, he is a keen amateur musician. He is a former Governor of the Royal Academy of Music (Hon FRAM) and former Chairman of the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Landmark welcomes Lord Carnwath

Joint Head of Chambers Paul Brown QC said “We are greatly honoured that, following his retirement from the Supreme Court,  Lord Carnwath has chosen to continue his stellar career  at Landmark, a set with which he has had close links since his early practice at 2 Paper Buildings (later 4 Breams Buildings), which was one of the main chambers from which Landmark was formed.  Everyone at Landmark is delighted they will be able to call on Lord Carnwath’s significant experience, expertise and knowledge, particularly in the areas of environmental, planning and administrative law and we look forward to welcoming him to Chambers.”

Landmark Chambers’ Chief Executive Paul Newhall said “This is a fantastic opportunity for Landmark to build upon our success as one of the country’s leading sets in planning and environmental law. Landmark is consistently recognised and ranked in the top tier by legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners and we now look forward to developing our set’s excellent reputation still further with the support of Lord Carnwath.”

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