Letter: Seen to be done
Wednesday 20 January 1999
You report the Lord Chancellor as having emphasised that, in future, judges must disclose links with parties involved in a court case.
Judges do, normally, declare links of which they are aware. I recall a case in 1978 before Mr Justice Mustill, later himself a distinguished law lord. He had just been appointed as a judge and it was his first case. I was appearing for the defendants, an airline company being sued for commission claimed in respect of the sale of two second-hand aircraft. My opponent had been opening his case for only a few minutes when Mr Justice Mustill interrupted to say that he thought he should mention that while at the Bar he had appeared once for a man called Martin who was an aircraft broker. At this the plaintiff, to the surprise of all in court, jumped to his feet and said, "Yes, it was you, my Lord."
The judge added that he remembered little about the case except that they went to the Court of Appeal and lost. However, what mattered was that my clients were given the opportunity to ask for a different judge, an opportunity denied to General Pinochet, whether or not his legal team were or should have been aware of Lord Hoffmann's connection with Amnesty. In my case we decided to continue with Mr Justice Mustill and eventually won.
Unless and until he chooses to tell us, the reason for Lord Hoffmann's non-disclosure in the Pinochet case can only be guessed at. What is surely significant, though, is that, at least so far as the House of Lords is concerned, his error was unprecedented. Regrettable and expensive though the incident has been the fact that the House of Lords ordered a rehearing must serve to restore confidence in our highest appeal court.
DAVID J LAMMING
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'