He was educated at Marlborough College and Brasenose College, Oxford, and was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1886.
He was appointed a King"s Counsel in 1908. In 1899 Askwith was one of the counsel in the Venezuelan arbitration case. In 1907 he entered the railways section of the Board of Trade as assistant secretary, and in 1909 was appointed comptroller-general of the Commercial, Labour and Statistical Departments of the Board of Trade.
He acted as arbitrator in many industrial disputes, and in 1911 was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath) in recognition of his valuable work in that capacity, having already been made a Central Bank in 1909.
In 1911 he became chairman of the recently constituted Industrial Council, in 1912 he made a special report for the Government on the Canadian labour laws, and in 1913 arbitrated in the Great Black Country Trades strike which lasted for two months and involved in the region of 40,000 workers. In 1915 he was appointed chairman of the Government Arbitration Committee under the Munitions of War Acts, holding this post until 1917.
On the Committee of Production he did important work for the Government. In 1919 he retired from his position as chief industrial commissioner, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Askwith, of Street Ives in the County of Huntingdon.
Lord Askwith was later was Chairman of the Council of the Royal Society of Arts between 1922 and 1924, Treasurer of the Royal Society of Arts between 1925 and 1927 and its Vice-President between 1927 and 1938.
He published Industrial Problems and Disputes (1920), British Taverns, their History and Laws (1928) and Lord James of Hereford (1930).