Failing my Greek AS level was a blow to my Father but as it turned out was probably the start of a series of changes in my life which brought me to where I am now. My place to read Classics at KCL gave way to my joining the Exchequer & Audit Department (now the NAO) and a three-year day release course to qualify as an auditor. The wonderful Professor Clive Schmittoff was my law tutor who encouraged me when I qualified to read Law and join Gray’s Inn as a student barrister. My Department gave me a sabbatical to take up a place at UCL and my bank manager lent me the money to pay the admission fees for Gray’s Inn. My tutor at UCL arranged pupillage for me in the Chambers of the late Sir Morris Finer QC with the late HH Brian Capstick QC, who taught me that compassion and law were bedfellows, and introduced me to the late HH David Croft QC for my second pupillage from whom I learned that cross examination was a skilled art. Between them and the other members of Chambers which included Alexander Irvine, later Lord Chancellor, Tony Blair and Cherie Booth the incomparable Sir Peter Pain and the legendary Michael Sherrard QC, I received a grounding in criminal, civil, family and employment law, court craft and client care which carried me through my career in those Chambers of which I became the Head upon the appointment of my great friend Sir Michael Burton. In 2018 I received a silver Griffin to mark my 50 years call to the Bar.
In the late 1980’s I heard the late Philip Naughton QC talk about mediation. It was another seismic shift in my life. I invited CEDR to train a dozen of us in Chambers and I began my career as a mediator. In 2007 I left Chambers and founded Independent Mediators with my close friend and colleague Nicholas Pryor and then a few months later we were joined by Bill Marsh and Charles Dodson. We are now nine and effectively a real mediation chambers, but above all a group of friends and experienced colleagues on whom we each call when the need arises. I was instructed by the ADR Group in Halsey v Milton Keynes, which gave an additional boost to mediation in general and lawyers professional obligation to advise on ADR in particular. Having sat as a deputy judge for over twenty years, the last 15 of which was as a High Court Judge in QB, Chancery and the TCC, and in the County Court before that, coupled with my practice at the Bar in Commercial Law, Employment and Professional Negligence, has equipped me with experience of a wide variety of disputes invaluable in my mediation practice, and, as a result, I am asked to mediate all civil and commercial disputes.
As chairman of the Bar ADR Committee I was a member of the working party which drafted the European Code of Conduct for Mediators and subsequently I gave evidence to the EU Parliament prior to its adopting the EU Mediation Directive in 2013. The International Academy of Mediators invited me to become a Distinguished Fellow in 2009 and I was introduced to an academy of the leading mediators in the world. Their combined experience is millions of hours of mediation, mostly in North America, but with a significant membership outside. I have been elected President for the year 2021-22 with a mandate to enlarge the international membership and share their wealth of experience and knowledge with those countries now actively pursuing mediation as a preferred dispute resolution process. As IAM’s representative I was part of UNCITRAL’s WGII which drafted the Singapore Convention. Recently the IAM jointly with the HKMC organised a symposium spread worldwide over 5 days, in five different time zones, with 32 speakers from 10 jurisdictions and over 900 participants. As President I hope to hold another to include South America, Africa, India and the Middle East.
Training mediators and lawyers in several jurisdictions is an important part of my professional life. I took part in the first ICC Mediation Competition 16 years ago, and it is hugely satisfying to see how it has been replicated all over the world, whiIe still attracting law students from every continent each year in Paris. To see a whole generation of lawyers learning that disputes can be resolved rather than won or lost gives me hope for our future.