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Judge Barbara Mensah awarded honorary degree

The former City Law School lecturer is the first Circuit Judge of African origin

by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

Her Honour Judge Barbara Mensah, a City University London alumna, has been awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of her contribution to the legal profession.

Judge Mensah became the first Circuit Judge of African origin when she was appointed to the South Eastern Circuit in December 2005.  She has enjoyed an extensive career at the Bar and on the Bench and is the first person in her family to have attended university. Judge Mensah has also made a notable contribution to legal education in her role as a law lecturer at the City Law School’s precursor, The Inns of Court School of Law. 

Accepting her honorary degree at the City Law School’s graduation ceremony, Judge Mensah told the audience:

The juncture you have arrived at today is a new beginning.  You need to have big dreams and aspirations to achieve success at whatever you choose to do. 

I trust that you will all be agents for positive change and that you will use your education to make the world a better place.

Born in Ghana, she was sent to school in England aged six. She studied philosophy at the University of Wales in Swansea before training to be a barrister.  After completing the Graduate Diploma in Law at City University London and the Bar Course at the Inns of Court School of Law, she was called to the Bar at Lincolns Inn in 1984.  Judge Mensah also graduated with an LLM degree from what is now Queen Mary University London, in 1990.

During her acceptance speech, she said:

“I regard this as a special day not only for myself but also for my family some of who are with me here today and to whom, especially my parents, I owe a great debt of gratitude.

When my parents sent me to the UK to be educated at the age of six, they could not possibly have foreseen that I would end up in this position.  It was a position which was not even in their dreams for me.  They were certain, nevertheless, that the education I received would be one of the most important tools at my disposal in ensuring my progress in the world”.

Judge Mensah‘s career at the Bar, at QEB Hollis-Whiteman, 3 Raymond Buildings and 1 Gray’s Inn Square, included practice areas in crime and general common law.  She occupied a tenancy and door tenancy at 1 Gray’s Inn Square, from 1992 to 2000.

Judge Mensah was appointed as a full-time Immigration Judge in 2000. Though Judge Mensah’s work primarily involves adjudicating on criminal matters, she also sits for 20 days a year as a judge on mental health cases.

She is the author of European Human Rights Case Summaries (1960-2000) and has contributed to manuals on European Law and Advanced Criminal Law.  In the 1990s, Judge Mensah served secondments to the European Commission’s Competition Directorate at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights.

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