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'Daily Telegraph (UK): 'Bored' High Court judge resigns
By Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor
(Filed: 22/06/2005)

A High Court judge disclosed yesterday that he is to resign from the judiciary and join a firm of specialist solicitors, giving up the "isolation" of the Bench for what he called the "fun and mutual support of working in a team".

Mr Justice Laddie, 59, is thought to be the first judge to resign voluntarily from the High Court for 35 years and is the first to join a solicitors' firm. His unwillingness to continue serving on the Bench is a sign that judges are increasingly reluctant to accept what has been traditionally regarded as a "life sentence".

Justice Sir Hugh Laddie
Justice Sir Hugh Laddie: 'nearly 25 years of fun' at the Bar

One of his friends, Peter Leaver, QC, said he believed that the resignation would "upset" the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, and the new Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips. "They will view it as a breach of the unwritten rule - almost an unspoken oath - that joining the Bench is a one-way street."

Sir Hugh Laddie, a specialist in intellectual property, has been a Chancery judge for 10 years. He told The Daily Telegraph he would step down next month.

The judge said he was lucky to have the opportunity of a new career "when I still feel there is plenty of drive left in me".

He will join Willoughby and Partners, which specialises in patents and designs, trademarks and copyright. Clients include B&Q, Johnnie Walker Whisky and Cartier jewellery.

"It is headed by lawyers I have known and liked for years and for whom I have the greatest admiration and respect," the judge said.

"From the isolation of the Bench I will be returned to the fun and mutual support of working in a team. The firm's practice covers a wide range of work in the field I am expert in, intellectual property law."

Tony Willoughby, senior partner of the niche practice Sir Hugh is joining as a consultant, said that everyone there was thrilled.

He would work on a near full-time basis for no more money than he was paid as a judge, despite the fact that he could have earned much more by joining one of the large City firms or practising as an independent arbitrator.

Friends said Sir Hugh had been unhappy for some time. Before his promotion, he had what he described as "nearly 25 years of fun" at the Bar: "great cases and great clients and the adrenaline rush of appearing in court".

On becoming a judge, the adrenaline disappeared with the novelty. He no longer found the work stimulating. "He told me he was not looking forward to doing possibly 11 more years of the same thing," said Mr Willoughby, a long-standing friend.

But Sir Hugh said that, despite his departure, he was sure that many able solicitors and barristers would continue to want to join the Bench.

"If anything, my move may bring home the message that taking a judicial appointment is not a dead end," he said.

"That can only make the job more attractive."

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