Lord Steyn

Lord Steyn

Tributes have been paid to retired law lord, Lord Steyn of Swafield, who has passed away at 85.

Born in South Africa, he was one of only a handful of people to have been born outside the UK and become a Lord of Appeal.

He started his legal career in South Africa, becoming a barrister in 1958 at the age of 26. In 1970, at the age of 38, he was appointed senior counsel of the Supreme Court of South Africa.

Lord Steyn had studied in the UK and in 1973, at the age of 41, he relocated permanently to Britain and called to the English bar.

He took silk just six years later and was appointed a judge of the High Court six years after that. He was made Lord Justice of Appeal in 1992 and thereafter a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1995, becoming a life peer as Baron Steyn of Swafield.

Lord Steyn established himself as a strong supporter of human rights, speaking out over Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet’s claims to immunity in Britain, as well as rights violations at Guantánamo Bay.

He retired as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 2005

Writing on Twitter, legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg wrote: “Very sorry to hear that Lord Steyn died yesterday. The retired law lord famously suggested in 2005 that judicial review was something not even a sovereign parliament acting at the behest of a ‘complaisant’ House of Commons could abolish. Not often you see that word.”