Lord Justice Ward bows out with a tribute to oral advocacy

Avatar photo

By Alex Aldridge on

Legendary Court of Appeal judge Sir Alan Ward has delivered his final judgment. Compared to some of his other stuff, it’s pretty tame, with no mention of “warring bankers”, use of incredible equine metaphors or reflections on the nature of love.

But paragraph 40 (reproduced in full below) features a memorable tribute to the English tradition of oral advocacy — alongside a jab at Article 8 of the ECHR.

“As this is the last judgment I shall deliver, I want to add this footnote. Article 8 is often much criticised, surprisingly even by those in a position of authority, as if it has incorporated some undesirable foreign jurisprudence into our law. I do not intend to enter into that debate, but read the opening words of my judgment. What I do want to emphasise is that this case demonstrates one aspect of our way of doing things which does represent the very best of British. That is our procedure for extended oral advocacy in our courts, especially in the appellate courts.

“Here we had Mr Luba QC, a true expert in the field, marshalling his written and his oral submissions in his usual measured and compellingly persuasive way. He has commanded my admiration over the many years I have been listening to him. Miss Winston is less well known to me. She had a rather torrid time when subject to a penetrating but ever courteous Socratic inquisition from my Lord, Lloyd LJ, deploying a typical and invaluable judicial technique to tease out the issues and the arguments. She recovered and advanced her case with determination.

“The result was, as often happens, that the oral argument swayed the Court this way and that. That is the great triumph of oral advocacy and if it gives us more to ponder it eventually makes our task easier. It also makes it a pleasure to be a member of the Court. As I say, this, if not every application of Article 8, is undeniably the best of British. I am sorry not to be enjoying more of it.”

Malik v McGahan (Lord Justice Ward’s final judgment in full) [Garden Court Chambers]

10 of the best Lord Justice Ward lines [Legal Cheek]