Tuesday, 18 November 2014

David Holgate QC appointed High Court Judge...Goldring LJ retires but will carry on hearing Hillsborough Inquest

Joint Head of Landmark Chambers and oft sitting Deputy High Court Judge, David Holgate QC has been helped into the red judicial dressing gown....as they used to say.  He is to replace Ramsey J, although I would suspect not in the TCC, but in the Admin or Planning Court where he is more at home, although you never know......

Taking off the black and gold space suit is Goldring LJ who has retired from the C of A but not from being Assistant Coroner for South Yorkshire (East) and West Yorkshire (West) for the purposes of the Hillsborough Inquest

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of David John Holgate Esq QC to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 1 December 2014 on the retirement of Mr Justice Ramsey.
The Lord Chief Justice will assign Mr Holgate to the Queen’s Bench Division.
Notes for editors
Mr Holgate, 58, was called to the Bar (M) in 1978 and took Silk in 1997. He was appointed a Recorder in 2002 and is approved to sit as a deputy High Court Judge.
Mr Justice Ramsey was called to the Bar (M) in 1979 and took Silk in 1992. He was appointed an Assistant Recorder in 1998, a Recorder in 2000 and a judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in 2005.
Lord Justice Goldring retires as Lord Justice of Appeal with effect from 10 November 2014. His appointment as Assistant Coroner for South Yorkshire (East) and West Yorkshire (West) will continue until the completion of the inquests into those who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Lord Sumption gets into his groove....

The Home Sec, with Foreign Off advice, keeps excluding a leader of the Iranian Opposition (Mrs Maryam Rajavi) living in France, from our shores, on the Royal Prerogative grounds of her presence not being conducive to the public good.  Some peers wanted to meet her in the UK and thus engaged their freedom of expression rights under art 10 ECHR by way of a JR of the decision to exclude: Which brought into question the old question of when Judges should question the Executive's superior and more constitutionally appropriate opinion on what is and what is not conducive to the public good,although with a new twist re how the old law applies when convention rights are engaged......

In direct contrast to Lord Kerr for the minority (of one), Lord Sumption encapsulates the traditional and in my view, correct if not only possible (if the current constitutional peace is to be kept and respected) response to such issues.

Neuberger P and Hale and Clarke JJSC follow him in the result, although Hale and Clarke in particularly make it clear that they morally support Kerr but feel forced on the law to follow Neuberger and Sumption.

This is just a flavour of an exceptionally sharp and well crafted judgment:

This gives rise to what is surely the central issue on this appeal. How is the court to determine where the balance lies if (i) it has no means of independently assessing the seriousness of the risks or the gravity of the consequences were they to materialise, and (ii) the Secretary of State is not shown to have committed any error of principle in her own assessment of them. For that is indeed the position in which the court finds itself. We are not in point of law bound to accept the factual assessment of the Foreign Office about the impact on our relations with Iran of admitting Mrs Rajavi to the United Kingdom. But if we reject it we must have a proper basis for doing so. In this case, there is none. There is no challenge to the primary facts. We have absolutely no evidential basis and no expertise with which to substitute our assessment of the risks to national security, public safety and the rights of others for that of the Foreign Office. We have only the material and the expertise to assess whether the Home Secretary has set about her task rationally, by reference to relevant matters and on the correct legal principle. Beyond that, in a case like this one, we would be substituting our own decision for that of the constitutional decision-maker without any proper ground for rejecting what she had done. All the recent jurisprudence of this court has rejected that as an inappropriate exercise for a court of review, even where Convention rights are engaged. Yet that appears to be where Lord Kerr’s analysis leads. “We do not ask whether the Secretary of State’s view is tenable”, he says (para 158), “but whether it is right.” Notwithstanding the respect which in earlier parts of his judgment Lord Kerr has acknowledged is due to the executive’s assessment of questions of
national security, this is in fact nothing less than a transfer to the courts of the constitutional function of the Home Secretary, in circumstances where the court is wholly incapable of performing it.

Friday, 24 October 2014

New Senior Master of the Queen's Bench and Queen's Remebrancer

Barbara Janet Fontaine,  solicitor admitted in 1978 ( now aged 60) and the first ever female Master in the High Court (Deputy in 1997 and full time appointment in 2003) has been appointed Senior Master and Queen's Remembrancer.  Primarily the lead interlocutory judge of the Queen's Bench, but also the Central Authority for the civil proceedings liaison we conduct with other jurisdictions, Senior Master Fontaine will also hold the oldest judicial office in England and Wales ( now that the L Ch no longer sits judicially) first appointed in 1154, the Queen's Remembrancer is the last remaining Judge of the Court of Exchequer, abolished as a full time Court in 1882, but from time to time reconstituted to receive some ancient rents which the City of London render to the Crown for various bits of land, including the Manor of Southwark.  She will also preside over a trial of the coinage of the realm
to make sure it is being made to standard and will also appoint the Commissioners of the Forest of Dean.  She is the keeper of Mr Osborne's seal held as Chancellor of the Exchequer.  She will be responsible for the pricking of the non-Duchy of Lancaster/Cornwall sheriffs and will also present the City Sheriffs with their writs of approbation from the monarch as well as presenting the city dignitaries to the LCJ and other senior judges at the end of the Lord Mayor's Show.

Perhaps more realistically, she will set the tone and tempo for the administration of civil justice at the highest level and will have case management responsibility for the biggest QB cases each year, as well as responsibility for deciding applications for Group Litigation Orders sought in the QB.

Most of the Masters have a foible of two, the last Senior Master had some sort of wind organ in his room.  Eastman has a helicopter, Eyre had a keen interest in grammar and Leslie a very loud clock. Senior Master Turner was always taking phone calls in the midst of an advocate's submissions.I look forward to the new Senior Master's touch of individuality.  I note she has already installed herself in the famous room E101 (used to be where you went to see a High Court Judge in chambers in an emergency or to get bail, but now the room of the Senior Master) although today she is on official business:



Friday 24th October 2014

At Half Past 10

Official Business - Sitting
(Master Eastman sitting on behalf of Master Fontaine in Room E116)

At 2 o’clock

Official Business - Sitting
(Deputy Master Trent sitting on behalf of Master Fontaine in Room E106)

No doubt she may also make sure that her brethren and sister (Master McCloud) keep their diaries in order given the untimely demise of her immediate predecessor.

She also gets to wear this as modelled by her predecessor but one:

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Former Chairman of the Bar replaces Field J

Maura McGowan QC of 2 Bedford Row and Lincoln House, criminal silk and former 2013 Chairman of the Bar Council has followed the well worn path from that representative office to the High Court Bench, QBD, replacing Field J.

Her closing speeches are a work of art according to the Legal 500 so let's hope the judgments follow suit.


Friday, 19 September 2014



Not only have you saved the Union, but you have given us an historic opportunity to draft a new Written Constitution for the whole of the Union and its constituent parts.  The Prime Minister's speech this morning heralds too quick a process; we need to slow down, convene a Convention and work out a lasting and final settlement, in a written federal constitution, to lay down a fair mode of collective, rights, obligations and governance for the future.  Nothing less will do and nothing less will respect the feelings of the large numbers of people in Scotland and the rest of the Union who are now, but so rarely, politically engaged on these issues.  There are lots of things to think about, from the tinkering with the Westminster Parliament considered by the Mckay Comission to the full blow written Constitution as proposed by Richard Gordon QC and others.  I have written on this subject before.

We need to do some serious thinking, not least on what do about England, with her large population, economic dominance (at least in her South-Eastern regions) and inherent majority in the Westminster House of Commons.

But for now, we can sigh relief in abundance and rejoice that Article I of the Union of Scotland Act 1706 shall remain in force:

That the two Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall upon the First day of May which shall be in the year One thousand seven hundred and seven and for ever after be united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain..... 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

That the two Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall ...and for ever after be united into one Kingdom ....

That the two Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall upon the First day of May which shall be in the year One thousand seven hundred and seven and for ever after be united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain And that the Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint and the Crosses of St. George and St. Andrew be conjoyned in such manner as Her Majesty shall think fit and used in all Flags Banners Standards and Ensigns both at Sea and Land. 

Article 1 of the Union of Scotland Act 1706.

'For ever after', they said, and for ever after it should be.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

New Judges for New Legal Year...

It's goodbye to Moses LJ, Rimer LJ, Goldring LJ and Maurice Kay LJ (VP of Civil Division)

and hello King LJ from the Fam D, Sales LJ from Ch D, and Bean and Burnett LJJ from the QBD.

and replacing them in the HIGH COURT, we welcome

commercial silk, leading pro bono champion and former COMBAR Chair from South Sq Chambers -  Robin Knowles CBE QC replacing Bean J and

Ian Dove QC replacing King J (although going to the QBD and not Fam D, which is right as he is a public law and planning specialist)

and we wait to see who will replace Sales and Burnett JJ.

plus we say goodbye to Royce J and Field J in the QBD,

Plus down the ranks: Her Honour Judge Sybil Milwyn Thomas has been appointed DFJ in Birmingham (where Katherine Tucker is also to be a new CJ), Jonathan Fuller QC to be CJ in Bournemouth, Peter Crabtree OBE is going to Southampton to be a CJ, and likewise Jessica Pemberton to Hull.