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)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us