Baroness Hale visits Roehampton to give a lecture on 'Religious Liberty and the Law'

On Thursday 25 January, Baroness Hale, the former president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, gave a lecture on the theme of Religious Liberty and the Law as part of the Practical Theology Seminar, in collaboration with the Law School. The lecture was widely attended by staff and students across the university

Baroness Hale was the first woman to be appointed a member of the Law Commission in 1984, her work within the family law team resulted in the legislation of the Children act 1989 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In 1994, Lady Hale was appointed to the High Court and later, a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1999. She was the first woman to be appointed to the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in ordinary in 2004 and became one of the first Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on 1 October 2009. In October 2017, Lady Hale became the first female President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. For Lady Hale, this was a return visit to the Roehampton campus having undertaken some of her legal training at Froebel College in the 1970s.

The lecture discussed the theme, Religious Liberty and the Law. Lady Hale gave insight to previous cases, for example the Bull v Hall court case and the Lee v Ashers Baking Company and Others court case. These cases highlighted the different conflicts with religious beliefs or practices. There was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and take part in a discussion with Lady Hale. Her advice to students and aspiring lawyers was, "embrace challenge, find something in your law course that you really enjoy, if you enjoy it, you will work hard at it".

Dr Ash Cocksworth, Convenor of the Practical Theology Programme explained, "It was a huge honour to have Lady Hale give a paper in the Practical Theology Seminars. We were treated to a fascinating lecture, which was full of the wisdom of a distinguished career. Her lecture set off all sorts of interdisciplinary conversation on the complex relation of the law and religion. Conversation continued to flow after the event in the Senior Common Room of Southlands College where Dr Christopher Stephens, Head of Southlands College, had generously provided tea and cake for everyone."

Roehampton’s Law Society President, Malcolm Glover, described the lecture as "truly thought provoking, challenging and full of insight. Baroness Hale reflects one deserving of all accolades achieved. A true gem of our judiciary."

The Practical Theology Seminar, which is part of the Centre for Inclusive Humanities, will continue to host notable guests throughout the semester for students and staff to come along to. The seminars are sponsored by the Susanna Wesley Foundation and can be joined either on campus or online.