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:

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