It was with considerable sadness that both current and former members of Chambers and staff learned of James’s death on Monday of this week.
Born in Deal and educated at Tonbridge and Lincoln College, Oxford, a spell of National Service followed before he was called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1962.
James took Silk at just 16 years’ call in 1978 and became a Recorder of the Crown Court the following year. For many years he also sat as a distinguished deputy High Court Judge of the Family Division. Naturally, he soon became a Bencher of the Inn.
James practised both in crime and family law and almost anything else that came his way, to include actions for professional negligence and a notable and long-running inquiry into the opening of a second terminal at Gatwick Airport.
James will be remembered by all who knew him as a powerful and fearless advocate, gifted with remarkable eloquence, a brilliant turn of phrase and a considerable courtroom presence. Between 1986 and 1988, and following in the footsteps of former members of chambers, Anthony Ewbank QC and Anthony Hollis QC, he served as Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association.
In 1987 he played a prominent part in the Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry.
Following the elevation to the Bench of Mr Justice Hollis in 1982, James assumed the mantle as the Head of Chambers of 1 King’s Bench Walk, a position he held for a full 17 years.
Following his retirement from practice he returned to his native Deal to enjoy good wine, conversation and good company, together with both fishing and some sailing, when the opportunity came its way. To the very end, he retained his hospitable “open door” policy for those who might be visiting those parts ….
James will be greatly missed.
We send our sincere condolences to his widow, Marleen, and his family, as well as to his many other friends and colleagues from his time in Chambers.