The Master and Fellows of Balliol College, Oxford, have elected the Right Honourable Lord Reed, PC, to serve as Visitor from 28 July 2011.
Noting that Balliol College has the unique privilege of electing its own Visitor, the Master, Andrew Graham, commented: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have such a distinguished member of the judiciary to follow in the footsteps of Lord Rodger.’ Lord Rodger was elected Visitor of Balliol on 10 November 2010 and died in office, aged 66, on 26 June 2011.
Lord Reed was educated at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, at the University of Edinburgh (graduating with First Class Honours) and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he earned his doctorate. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1983.
Lord Reed has been a judge of the Court of Session since 1998. He was appointed to the Inner House in 2008, having previously been the principal judge of the Commercial Court. He has also sat as an ad hoc judge of the European Court of Human Rights and as an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court. He is an honorary Professor of Law at the University of Glasgow, and chairman of the Centre for Commercial Law at the University of Edinburgh.
For the most part, the Visitor of Balliol is an informal adviser to the Master and Fellows, but formal advice may be given in any case of appeal or of dispute not resolvable by the members of Balliol internally, and the Visitor is also the final and binding interpreter of the College’s Statutes. The tradition for the past century has been that the Visitor has been both a former member of Balliol and a Law Lord or senior judicial figure. Somewhat earlier, the office was held chiefly by clerics. In 1807, the then Visitor, Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham, played a critical role in the history of Balliol through a judgement which ensured that elections to the College’s Fellowships were made by open competition.