List of women senators of the College of Justice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A total of eleven women have been appointed to be senators (judges) of the College of Justice, the Supreme Courts of Scotland established in 1532. The most recent appointment was that of Lady Poole in January 2020,[1] and the most recent retirement was that of Lady Rae later in June,[2] which brought the number of current women judges back to nine.


The first woman appointed as a permanent judge of the Court of Session was Hazel Cosgrove, in 1996.[3][4] She was followed by Ann Paton in 2000, and in November 2001 by Anne Smith.[5] Smith's appointment followed a controversy earlier that year when she and Leeona Dorrian QC were passed over in favour of men; but with only three women out of 32 judges, the Scottish courts were still labelled by The Scotsman newspaper as an "old boys' club".[6][7]

The appointment in early 2005 of Leeona Dorrian raised the number of women judges to four.[8] Lynda Clark's appointment in early 2006 briefly raised the number to five,[9] but Cosgrove retired from the bench in March 2006.[10] In May 2008, Scotland's first ever all-female bench was formed by Ladies Paton, Smith and Dorrian, who sat together to hear an appeal.[11]

In November 2008, Valerie Stacey's elevation to the bench brought the number of female judges to five. No more women were appointed for another 4 years, but between 2012 and 2014 Maggie Scott, Morag Wise, Rita Rae and Sarah Wolffe brought the total to nine out of 32.


Appointed Senator Judicial title Retired Mandatory retirement date
1996 Hazel Cosgrove Cosgrove March 2006
2000 Ann Paton Paton incumbent 2022
2001 Anne Smith Smith incumbent 16 March 2025
2005 Leeona Dorrian Dorrian incumbent 16 June 2027
2006 Lynda Clark Clark of Calton February 2019
5 November 2008 Valerie Stacey Stacey incumbent 25 May 2024
2 November 2012 Maggie Scott Scott incumbent 2030
6 February 2013 Morag Wise Wise incumbent
14 January 2014 Rita Rae Rae 18 June 2020
11 March 2014 Sarah P. L. Wolffe Wolffe incumbent
30 June 2016 Ailsa Carmichael Carmichael incumbent
10 January 2020 Anna Poole Poole incumbent

Serving women judges[edit]

Period start Event Number serving Judges
1532 Creation of College of Justice 0  
1996 Appointment of Hazel Cosgrove 1 Cosgrove
2000 Appointment of Ann Paton 2 Cosgrove, Paton
2001 Appointment of Anne Smith 3 Cosgrove, Paton, Smith
2005 Appointment of Leeona Dorrian 4 Cosgrove, Dorrian, Paton, Smith
February 2006 Appointment of Lynda Clark 5 Clark of Calton, Cosgrove, Dorrian, Paton, Smith
March 2006 Retirement of Lady Cosgrove 4 Clark of Calton, Dorrian, Paton, Smith
5 November 2008 Appointment of Valerie Stacey 5 Clark of Calton, Dorrian, Paton, Smith, Stacey
2 November 2012 Appointment of Maggie Scott 6 Clark of Calton, Dorrian, Paton, Scott, Smith, Stacey
6 February 2013 Appointment of Morag Wise 7 Clark of Calton, Dorrian, Paton, Scott, Smith, Stacey, Wise
14 January 2014 Appointment of Rita Rae 8 Clark of Calton, Dorrian, Paton, Rae, Scott, Smith, Stacey, Wise
11 March 2014 Appointment of Sarah Wolffe 9 Clark of Calton, Dorrian, Paton, Rae, Scott, Smith, Stacey, Wise, Wolffe
30 June 2016 Appointment of Ailsa Carmichael[12] 10 Carmichael, Clark of Calton, Dorrian, Paton, Rae, Scott, Smith, Stacey, Wise, Wolffe
26 February 2019 Retirement of Lynda Clark 9 Carmichael, Dorrian, Paton, Rae, Scott, Smith, Stacey, Wise, Wolffe
10 January 2020 Appointment of Anna Poole 10 Carmichael, Dorrian, Paton, Poole, Rae, Scott, Smith, Stacey, Wise, Wolffe
18 June 2020 Retirement of Rita Rae 9 Carmichael, Dorrian, Paton, Poole, Scott, Smith, Stacey, Wise, Wolffe


  1. ^ "Anna Poole QC installed as a Senator of the College of Justice". Scottish Legal News. 10 January 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Lady Rae retires". Scottish Legal News. 18 June 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  3. ^ MacQueen, Hector L. (2012). Studying Scots Law (4th ed.). Bloomsbury Professional. ISBN 9781780431024. Retrieved 6 June 2016 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Brooks, Libby (14 April 2016). "First woman appointed to Scotland's second highest judicial post". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Growing role for women in courts". The Scotsman. 17 January 2003. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Third female judge in old boys' sanctum". The Scotsman. 27 November 2001. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Trousers-row lawyer to sit on bench". The Scotsman. 26 November 2001. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Appointment of new judges". Scottish Executive. 2 February 2005. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Labour MP who quit Commons last year among four new judges". The Scotsman. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Pioneer who set the benchmark for a generation". The Scotsman. 28 March 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Fair ladies: first ever all-female bench". The Scotsman. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Lady Carmichael joins the bench". Scottish Legal News. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.