Following the announcement of his death this morning at the age of 72, the Supreme Court president Lord Reed paid tribute to a “deeply valued colleague, a kind and modest man of the utmost integrity, who will be deeply missed by all those who had the pleasure of working with him”.
“He has left us a legacy which will be drawn on well into the future”, he said.
“Through his judgments and during hearings, Brian demonstrated his strong and instinctive sense of justice, and his thoughtful and principled approach to resolving legal problems.
“He will never know the full extent of the impact which his considerate, good-humoured and encouraging nature had on the court, the staff of the court, and his judicial colleagues. Nor will he ever know the full extent of the impact which his judgments had on the society we serve.”
Born in 1948 in County Armagh, Lord Kerr studied law at Queen's University in Belfast and was called to the bar in 1970. He became a High Court judge at the age of 44, and took on the post of Lord Chief Justice in Northern Ireland in 2004.
During his time on the Supreme Court, Lord Kerr was part of a bench which made a decisive ruling that the abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with human rights.
On his retirement, he spoke out against the government and ministers acting with “unbridled power”.
The Supreme Court flag is flying at half-mast today and tomorrow as a mark of respect.