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Legal insights & industry updates

| 1 minute read

Your...majesty? New direction issued on how judges should be addressed in courts and tribunals

On 1 December 2022, the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals issued notification of a change in practice in the courts and tribunals. From that date, a number of judges (including those in the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals) should be addressed simply as ‘Judge’.

Prior to this, judges in the employment tribunal were referred to as either ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, and judges in the relevant courts as ‘my lord’ or ‘my lady’. The move away from this form of address is stated to be in pursuit of ‘modern and simple terminology’ whilst still maintaining the required degree of respect for the role. The change applies only to judges so, for example, any lay members on the panel of the tribunal should still be addressed as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’.

The change aims to assist litigants in person involved in court and tribunal hearings. Courts and tribunals can be daunting for those with no legal experience. It is easy to see, with the popularity of courtroom dramas, why those who represent themselves might be confused about what they should be calling the judge in their case. Add this confusion to the nerves of standing up (or sitting if in the tribunal) to give evidence and it is inevitable that reported blunders from non-lawyers (like calling a sheriff ‘Your Majesty’) occur. Solicitors have also welcomed the change, particularly in the era of telephone hearings where it may be unclear at first whether the judge on the other end of the phone is a man or a woman.

The introduction of this consistency in address is expected to be a relatively easy transition for court and tribunal users to make. It is hoped that it will lessen the likelihood of confusion (and accidental elevation to royalty) for all parties.

The move away from ‘Sir or Madam’ involves modern and simple terminology, reflecting the important judicial role whilst maintaining the necessary degree of respect.


employment law, dispute resolution