Obituary: Sir Robert Micklethwait

Robert Gore Micklethwait, lawyer, born 7 November 1902, called to the Bar Middle Temple 1925, Recorder of Worcester 1946-59, Bencher 1951, QC 1956, Kt 1964, Chief National Insurance Commissioner 1966-75, Treasurer Middle Temple 1971, married 1936 Philippa Bosanquet (three sons, one daughter), died Englefield Green Surrey 8 September 1992.

THE DEATH of Robert Micklethwait in his 90th year will bring great sadness not only to those of his contemporaries or near contemporaries who still survive but to a much younger generation who came to know him through his attainments in the field of social-security insurance in which he held a series of important appointments over a long period, culminating in his tenure of the office of Chief National Insurance Commissioner in 1966-75. It was his work in this field which earned him a knighthood in 1964 and which established effective quasi-judicial control of the system through the body of National Insurance Commissioners which has continued since.

'Robin' Micklethwait was almost born into the law. His father was St John Micklethwait QC, for many years a leading figure on the Oxford Circuit and ultimately full- time Chairman of Middlesex Sessions, a man of great charm, which his son inherited.

Robin Micklethwait was educated at Clifton and at Trinity College, Oxford. It was not surprising that he followed his father into the law and that after being called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1925 he joined the Oxford Circuit. He there gradually built up a substantial junior practice. His allegiance to the circuit was strengthened by his marriage in 1936 to Philippa Bosanquet whose father, Sir Ronald Bosanquet QC, was another prominent figure on the circuit.

By the early Fifties Micklethwait's practice, though almost entirely on the circuit, was such that he would have been justified in applying for silk. But in 1951 the Middle Temple elected him, still a junior, as a Bencher, an exceptional recognition of his qualities. He had always taken a deep interest in the welfare of students at a time when that was not always the case in the Inns of Court. But this election carried a penalty which in Micklethwait's case proved harsh and indeed damaging. He was required to give an undertaking that he would not apply for silk for at least two years. During those prohibited years, by chance through unexpected deaths or promotions, the opening for silks on the circuit suddenly widened. But Micklethewait was barred by his undertaking from taking advantage of the opening. Ever a man of staunch integrity, he refused either to seek release from the undertaking let alone to consider departing from it. There is no doubt that he suffered from his integrity for in 1956, when he felt free to apply for silk, which he then obtained, the opportunity had gone. He never attained the position as a silk which he had had as a junior, but this was not for the want of the necessary skills.

This led him to seek his first appointment in the field of social security. In 1961 he became National Insurance and Industrial Injuries Commissioner. Though his friends regretted this step, the succession of appointments he held in the next 15 years perhaps enabled him to give greater public service than he would have given had he stayed in practice and sought a conventional judicial career. In 1971 he was Treasurer of the Middle Temple, as his father had been before him, a post which is arduous when held with other work. But with his wife's help he was an immensely successful Treasurer.

He retired in 1975 and thereafter lived quietly at home, ever a keen gardener. Unhappily, his final years were marred by failing health and failing sight, but he will leave the warmest memories of a man of strong conscience who carried out every task which came his way with great skill.

(Photograph omitted)

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star