District judges will no longer be addressed as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ as the judiciary attempts to modernise the language of the courtroom.
In a notice published 1 December 2022, the senior judiciary said judges should be addressed in court or tribunal hearings simply as ‘judge’. The new direction will apply to masters, Upper Tribunal judges, employment and Employment Appeal Tribunal judges, district judges and First-Tier Tribunal judges.
Lord chief justice Lord Burnett of Maldon and senior president of tribunals Sir Keith Lindblom said: ‘The move away from “sir or madam” involves modern and simple terminology, reflecting the important judicial role while maintaining the necessary degree of respect.
‘We also hope this change in language will assist litigants in person involved in court and tribunal proceedings.’
They added that the change does not affect judicial titles, which have a basis in statute, or the way in which judges record their decisions.
In the tribunals non-legal members should continue to be addressed as ‘sir or madam’.
A number of law firms have removed ‘gendered language’ in correspondence such as the use of ‘Dear Sirs’ in letters.