Senior government lawyer among new High Court judges

Collins Rice: Director-general of the Attorney General’s Office

A senior government lawyer who is director-general of the Attorney General’s Office is among nine new appointments to the High Court.

Rowena Collins Rice, the first civil servant appointed directly to the High Court, is also one of two new female solicitors to join the bench.

Ms Collins Rice qualified with the Government Legal Service in 1995 and has held several roles across Whitehall, including legal adviser to the Ministry of Justice in 2007, before joining the ministry’s executive board the following year as director-general (democracy, constitution and law) and chief legal officer.

In 2010, she became director-general, constitution to the then Deputy Prime Minister, and in 2011 was appointed secretary to the Leveson inquiry.

She has been director-general of the Attorney General’s Office and legal secretary to the law officers since 2013, and a deputy High Court judge since 2017.

Two circuit judges have been promoted: Her Honour Judge Mary Stacey, a former employment and discrimination law partner at Simons Muirhead & Burton and then Thompsons, before being appointed as a salaried employment judge in 2003 and a circuit judge in 2014. She has been a deputy High Court judge since 2018.

His Honour Judge Mark Wall QC, who was a criminal barrister while at the Bar, has been a circuit judge since 2014.

A third solicitor in the latest round is one of the small number of solicitor QCs, Adam Johnson, who has spent his entire legal career as a commercial litigation specialist at City giant Herbert Smith Freehills.

He acted recently in the litigation arising out of RBS’s 2008 rights issue, receiving silk in 2017 and becoming a deputy High Court judge a year later. He is a trustee of Pro Bono Community, a charity providing legal training for law centre volunteers.

Two members of Brick Court Chambers have been appointed. Kelyn Bacon QC, an EU and competition law specialist dubbed ‘the queen of state aid matters’, also moves up from being a deputy High Court judge, which she has been since 2017. She is a governing bencher of the Inner Temple.

Neil Calver QC, who has a broad commercial litigation and arbitration practice, and has acted as an arbitrator for the past 10 years is the only new appointee aside from the circuit judges who has not sat as a deputy in the High Court, serving instead as a recorder since 2009.

Nigel Poole QC, a well-known clinical negligence practitioner who heads Kings Chambers, is another new appointment, having sat as a deputy High Court judge in the Family Division since 2017.

Also elevated to the High Court bench are Richard Meade QC of 8 New Square, who specialises in intellectual property and commercial work relating to technology and the music business, and has been a deputy High Court judge for nine years; and Charles Bourne QC of 11KBW, who specialises in local government, public law, employment, inquiries and investigations.

He has frequently acted for the government in public law cases, has sat as a deputy High Court judge since 2016 and was the founding chair of the Human Rights Lawyers Association.

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