Rabinder Singh becomes first Sikh judge of High Court

12th October 2011: Congrats, India! Leading human rights lawyer Rabinder Singh QC, a colleague of Cherie Blair at the human rights barristers’ chambers Matrix, has become the first Sikh judge of the High Court. He was sworn in at the Royal Courts.  An English barrister and founding member of Matrix Chambers, law professor, Recorder of the Crown Court and deputy High Court Judge, Rabinder Singh QC, is only the second lawyer from an ethnic minority background to have made it to the senior level of the judiciary. Justice Dame Linda Dobbs was the first High Court judge from an ethnic minority background. Dame Linda, whose mother is from Sierra Leone, has been a High Court judge since 2004 Just 47, Rabinder Singh is the son of Indian immigrants and has won a local council scholarship to the independent Bristol Grammar School before he went on to Cambridge. In an interview with the Law Society Gazette before taking office, he said: ‘I am a barrister who happens to be a Sikh. I have always tried to be a role model, by the work I do. I haven’t said, “I’m a Sikh barrister, look at what I do”. I’ve just said, “Look at what I do”. Everyone can see what I am.’ Rabinder Singh was born in Delhi to Sikh immigrants from India. He grew up in a working-class part of Bristol. From an early age, he had an interest in law and liked the thought of one day becoming an advocate. At Trinity College, Cambridge, he earned a double first in law in 1985. Between 1985 and 1986, he spent a year at the University of California at Berkeley studying for his LL.M. During his time at Berkeley, he became interested in constitutional law, particularly misuse of power and how the law holds those in power to account. This interest was partly fuelled by the late Professor Frank Newman at Berkeley, a pioneer in the field of human rights law and by his studies on the American Constitution at Berkeley. In 1988, he attended the Inns of Court School of Law to undertake Bar Finals and was called to the Bar (Lincolns Inn) in July 1989. He was appointed a deputy High Court judge in 2003. Aged 39 when he was appointed, he was thought to be the youngest judge to sit in the High Court. In 2004, he became a Recorder (part-time judge) of the Crown Court. His appointment as a judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court was announced on 29 July 2011. The appointment took effect following the promotion of Justice Kitchin to be a member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. He is the first Sikh to be made a High Court judge, and will wear a turban rather than a wig. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said of his appointment: “The Government wants to create a society of aspiration, where people of ability feel free to aim to reach the highest offices of our country, regardless of their background, race or gender. “The appointment of Mr Rabinder Singh QC, a talented and highly respected barrister, to the High Court, represents a real landmark in the drive to create a more diverse judiciary which continues to attract the highest quality candidates.” ”


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