Stanley Burnton was educated at Hackney Downs Grammar School and St Edmund Hall Oxford, where he read Jurisprudence. He graduated in 1964 with First Class Honours and was called to the Bar in 1965. He practised initially in general common law, and then from 1976 as a commercial lawyer. He took silk in 1982, was a Recorder trying crime and then sat as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Chancery Division from 1994 until he was appointed to the High Court Bench in July 2000. He was nominated to the Administrative Court shortly after his appointment. He was knighted in the same year. As a judge of the Administrative Court he made a number of the early decisions on the European Convention on Human Rights as incorporated in English Law by the Human Rights Act 1998. He was subsequently the Judge in charge of Modernisation, IT and the Court Estate and one of the original three judicial members of the Board of Her Majesty’s Court Service. He also served as a member of the Civil Justice Council. In April 2008 he was promoted to the Court of Appeal, and became a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. He sat in both the civil and criminal divisions of the Court of Appeal.
Until 2011, he represented the Lord Chief Justice at meetings of the Association of Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union.
He retired as a Judge of the Court of Appeal on 25 October 2012, when he reached the age of 70. He returned to his former chambers, One Essex Court to practise as an arbitrator, but continues to sit from time to time in the Court of Appeal.
Stanley Burnton is a Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and the Master of Music. He was the Treasurer of Middle Temple in 2010. As Treasurer, he organised and led a successful conference in South Africa between judges and lawyer members of the Inn and South African judges and lawyers on the theme of the Rule of Law.
Stanley Burnton is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII), a charity that makes the law freely available on the Internet. He is a trustee of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and a member of its audit committee. He is also a trustee of the Slynn Foundation. He is chairman of the working party of Justice on Delivering Access to Justice in an Age of Austerity. Stanley Burnton is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and a Visiting Professor of Queen Mary College, London.