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Mary Arden (judge)

Dame Mary Howarth Mance, Lady Mance, DBE, QC (23 January 1947), née Arden, styled The Rt Hon. Lady Justice Arden or Dame Mary Arden, is a British judge and lawyer. She currently serves as a judge on the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.

She was born in Liverpool. Her grandfather was a partner in Gamon Arden and Co., a Liverpool firm of solicitors. Her father and brother, Roger, joined the family firm which merged with Hill Dickinson in 2007. She was brought up in south Liverpool and educated at Huyton College. She studied law at Girton College, Cambridge, and took an LLM degree at Harvard Law School in 1970 as a Kennedy Scholar. She married fellow barrister Jonathan Mance (now Lord Mance) in the Lady Chapel at Liverpool Cathedral in 1973. They have three children together - two daughters and a son.

She was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1971, and joined Lincoln's Inn in 1973. She practised at Erskine Chambers from 1971 to 1993, mainly in company law. She became a QC in 1986, and served as Attorney-General of the Duchy of Lancaster. She is an Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway, University of London.

She was appointed to the High Court on 30 April 1993,[1] becoming the first female High Court judge to be assigned to the Chancery Division just one year after Dame Ann Ebsworth became the first assigned to the Queen's Bench Division. As is customary, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) at the same time. Her husband joined the Queen's Bench Division in October 1993, making them the first married couple to sit on the High Court bench. That feat has now been matched by Sir Peter Openshaw and Dame Caroline Swift. Arden was chairperson of the Law Commission from 1996 to 1999.

Her husband became a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1999. A year and a half later, on 2 October 2000, she was also appointed to the Court of Appeal,[2] becoming only the third female judge to sit on the Court of Appeal, after Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss (now Baroness Butler-Sloss) in 1988 and Dame Brenda Hale (now Baroness Hale of Richmond) in 1999. She and her husband became the first (and, as of 2012, only) married couple both to sit on the Court of Appeal.

Her husband was elevated to the peerage on his appointment as a Law Lord in October 2005. He is now a Justice of the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[3]

Decided cases


  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 53295. p. 7925. 6 May 1993.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 55989. p. 11135. 5 October 2000.
  3. ^ BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list

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