LegalWeek.com: The Bar: Laddie move prompts ban review: “Justice Laddie’s decision to become a consultant causes controversy”: “Friends of Mr Justice Laddie, the convivial senior judge of the Patents Court, had been sensing for some time that he was not his usual self.”: ”The move…, has stirred controversy because Laddie has breached the convention — now being reviewed by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer — that judges either end their career on the Bench or go on to become arbitrators…”: 7 July 2005
News round-up: Justice Laddie’s decision to become a consultant causes controversy
Caroline Grimshaw and Ed Thornton report
Friends of Mr Justice Laddie, the convivial senior judge of the Patents Court, had been sensing for some time that he was not his usual self.
"Anybody who has been in court of late knows he has not been a happy bunny," says Tony Willoughby of Willoughby & Partners. "He is a vibrant and intelligent bloke. Why commit yourself to misery when there is no need to?"
Unable to face the prospect of spending another 11 isolated years on the Bench, the 59-year-old judge made an unprecedented move, announcing that, after 10 years as a Chancery judge, he was to join international IP consultancy Rouse & Co and its associated UK firm Willoughby & Partners as a consultant.
Laddie’s friendship with Willoughby stretches back to 1973 when the latter was a lawyer at Herbert Smith.
"We used Robin Jacob and Hugh Laddie was his sidekick," explains Willoughby. The two worked together for more than 20 years until Laddie was appointed to the Bench.
His new role, heading up Willoughby’s embryonic IP arbitration and mediation practice, will involve the teamwork and travel he so missed while on the Bench.
"We are sure he will be in demand as an arbitrator," says Willoughby. "He will also be travelling oversees and helping to cement our relationships with clients."
The move, however, has stirred controversy because Laddie has breached the convention — now being reviewed by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer — that judges either end their career on the Bench or go on to become arbitrators, a quasi-judicial role that keeps them well away of the courts.
There is a related concern that his experience could be unfairly leveraged by his new employers.
"I understand he is not going to be advising on any UK litigation and not teaching people how to become advocates, because Willoughbys does not believe in in-house advocacy", said one senior judge.
This point is confirmed by Tony Willoughby himself. "His court days are over. He is certainly not going to do advocacy or lead cases in the UK, nor is he going to be training us how to be solicitor advocates. I think that solicitor-advocates are not conducive to cost-effective litigation and it is something we do not stand for. We support the independent Bar."
Laddie’s move has also been linked to sustained controversy over judicial pensions.
There have been reports that several judges have threatened to quit the bench if the Government fails to follow through on its promise to exempt them from a new pensions tax for people with personal pensions of more than £1.5m.
But Willoughby believes that Laddie’s move is driven more by personal than financial motives and will have very limited ramifications.
"I would not see this as an opening of the floodgates. There are a lot of judges who enjoy their role. It is just one man who has thought of something better — for him — to do."
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