Obituary: Richard Du Cann

Richard Dillon Lott Du Cann, lawyer: born London 27 January 1929; called to the Bar, Gray's Inn 1953, Bencher 1980; Treasury Counsel, Inner London QS 1966-70; Treasury Counsel, Central Criminal Court 1970-75; QC 1975; Chairman, Criminal Bar Association 1977-80; Chairman, Bar of England and Wales 1980-81; Recorder of the Crown Court 1982-94; married 1955 Marley Sawtell (two sons, two daughters); died London 4 August 1994.

JUDGE Parry, in his 'Seven Lamps of Advocacy' listed among the qualities of the great advocate honesty, courage, industry, wit and judgement. It has been said that to these Lord Birkett would have added presence, and Sir Edward Marshall Hall humanity. Richard Du Cann was one of those rare advocates who possessed all of these. They were the hallmark of his reputation and he passed them on to generations of students in his lectures and in his writing.

Du Cann was born in 1929. The son of a barrister, he was educated at Steyning Grammar School and at Clare College, Cambridge. He was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1953.

He joined the chambers of RE Seaton, an established 'criminal set', as pupil to James Burge. His industry earned him a busy practice. Clarity of thought and the ability at an early stage to grasp the essence of the most complicated case marked him out among his contemporaries. He became successively junior and then senior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court, taking Silk in 1975. He was elected Master of the Bench of Gray's Inn in 1979 and appointed a Recorder in 1982.

As an advocate he was formidable. He demanded of himself, his pupils and others only the highest standards. Lean and spare in appearance, he commanded the attention of the court. He presented his cases, whether for the prosecution or the defence, fearlessly and with penetrating logic and persuasion. His workload was prodigious and there were many causes celebres in which he was briefed, both as a junior and in Silk. The indictment of DH Lawrence's book Lady Chatterley's Lover, the Calvi Inquest and the Blue Arrow fraud case are indicative of the range of his practice and the reputation he possessed among his clients, lay and professional.

Du Cann made a significant contribution to his profession. What he took from it he repaid in full measure. Few gave more of their own time and energy to the resolution of issues affecting the workings of the criminal justice system. He served as Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association between 1977 and 1980 and as Chairman of the Bar from 1980 to 1981. No Royal Commission which affected the Bar (and there were four of them during his years as Treasury Counsel and as Silk) was complete without a contribution from him, and his opinions were always trenchant and perceptive.

It was not only the institutions of the Bar to which he sacrificed his time. Dick Du Cann was the first port of call to those of his colleagues who needed wise counsel, whether on questions of law or ethics. Although he became sometimes impatient with ignorance and stupidity, he was always sensitive to the requests of those who came to him for advice. The mere appearance of anxiety in his caller would immediately expose his humanity, evoke his sympathy and understanding and usually lead to a solution of the problem.

Dick Du Cann and his wife Marley were married in 1955. They had four children including Christian who followed his father and grandfather into the law. It is a profound sadness to Dick's family and friends that he was only allowed to share with them a year of his retirement before his death.

His most significant memorial will perhaps be his work for the students of his profession. His book The Art of the Advocate, first published in 1964 and revised only last year, has given pleasure and instruction to countless young barristers. For the last 17 years he gave an annual lecture at the Council of Legal Education. During these talks he attempted to instil the standards he had vigorously striven to uphold during his working life into the young men and women about to embark on a career at the Bar. The legacy he would wish to leave is the maintenance of those standards within the profession, so that it might be said of him as of Sir Christopher Wren at the entrance to St Paul's Cathedral, 'if you seek his monument, look around'.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home