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Legal Week: Top judge accused of bias in landmark patent appeal: 2 May 2002

The Times: 16 May 2006: Added commentary: “ Sir Hugh Laddie was the Judge for the Donovan -v- Shell U.K. Limited “Shell Smart” trial at the Royal Courts of Justice. At the time, he was still a High Court Judge known as Mr Justice Laddie. He  resigned from being a Judge in controversial circumstances. By coincidence or otherwise, this was subsequent to a letter of complaint sent by Alfred Donovan to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer.”Times: Definitely no regrets: there is life beyond the High Court

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL IMPRISONMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST DR. HUONG: PART TWO: 24 March 2006: I consider the Judges behaviour (Mr Justice Laddie) in the latter part of the trial to have been bizarre. I base this on a transcript that I have obtained of the entire three week trial”: READ

BLOOMBERG: Former U.K. Judge Says Justices Often Rule Without Expertise: Wed 29 Mar 2006: He denies there was bias or favoritism in his judgments or those of his colleagues.

The Guardian: Naming and shaming is a con: “A former high court judge has publicly admitted to something which the legal world has been trying to hide for centuries – that judges having to decide cases sometimes have no idea what they’re talking about. In some cases, it would have been “better to use a roulette wheel” than to have him deciding, confessed Sir Hugh Laddie.”: Monday February 27, 2006: READ

NewStatesman: Battle of the benches: “This summer Hugh Laddie, 59, declared his intention to leave the bench, citing “boredom” as his reason. He was the first judge in 35 years to resign voluntarily from the high court and therefore the first to breach the unwritten rule that judges are supposed to leave public office only when asked to go. A close barrister friend of his said last month that boredom had very little to do with his departure.”: Monday 5th December 2005: READ

The The judge who budged: “Laddie’s final defining controversy came in June. He became the first judge to resign from the bench in 35 years.”: “If you don’t enjoy a job, or you don’t think you’re doing it very well, you just leave.”: “Laddie that became unpopular with many IP lawyers who felt harshly judged in his court.”: “…his rants are driven by a passionate belief”: 12 October 2005: READ

The Lawyer: Ex-judge Laddie slams Woolf reforms: “Sir Hugh Laddie has used his first interview since resigning from the High Court to criticise the Woolf reforms.”: 10 October 2004: READ

Legal Week: Hot property: Recent events have shaken the normally cosy world of IP. The resignation of 59-year-old IP judge Mr Justice Laddie in June — because he found the work of being a judge “not stimulating enough” and “rather lonely” — caused widespread consternation. The first English judge since 1546 known to have voluntarily given up his job has since become a consultant with Willoughby & Partners, specialists in patent law.: “Geoffrey Hobbs QC has enthusiastic support from several firms. One partner comments: “[He is] possibly the cleverest man in England..”: Thursday 6 October 2005: READ

Legal Week: Chamber of horrors: “The office, it seems, is cursed — or blessed, depending on how you look at it. UK patent judge Mr Justice Laddie occupied the same room…”: Thursday 6 October 2005: READ

The Lawyer: Lord Woolf joins Blackstone “…the same day as esteemed former IP judge Sir Hugh Laddie joining law firm Willoughby & partners to head its arbitration and mediation service.”: Tuesday 4 October 2005: READ

Legal Week: Kitchen joins High Court to replace Laddie: “In 2002, an appeal was unsuccessfully brought against a Laddie judgment accusing the judge of having an “appearance of bias”.: 22 Sept 2005: READ

The Lawyer: 8 New Square loses Kitchin to the bench: “…he will be a boost to the court following the recent resignation of patent specialist Mr Justice Laddie.”: Friday 15 Sept 2005: READ

Legal Week: New Square’s Kitchin to replace Laddie: “In 2002, an appeal was brought against a Laddie judgment accusing the judge of having an “appearance of bias”.: Thursday 15 Sept 2005: READ 

Legal Week: The Bar: Laddie move prompts ban review: “Justice Laddie’s decision to become a consultant causes controversy”: “Friends of Mr Justice Laddie, the convivial senior judge of the Patents Court had been sensing for some time that he was not his usual self.”: ”The move…, has stirred controversy because Laddie has breached the convention — now being reviewed by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer — that judges either end their career on the Bench or go on to become arbitrators…”: 7 July 2005 Read the article

Legal Week: It’s on yer bike for m’luds: “At any other time, one suspects that Mr Justice Laddie’s decision to quit the High Court and join his old chums at Willoughby & Partners would have amounted to a minor revolution for the judiciary. By stepping down early and returning to private practice, Laddie has broken with the age-old convention that once a judge, always a judge.”: 7 July 2005: READ  

Channel Register: HP grey case goes to court: “Both parties had worked on an out-of-court settlement, but last week, the judge presiding over the case at the Chancery Division, Mr Justice Laddie, heard the arguments and retired to his chambers to consider the outcome. The judge, who announced his retirement recently, is not expected to drag on his decision.”:  Posted 6 July 2005: Read the article

Accountancy Age/Taking Stock: Accountancy Age judge bored out of a job: “The legal world was rocked by last week’s revelation that High Court judge Mr Justice Laddie would be standing down…”: Friday 1 July 2005: Read the article

Daily Telegraph (UK): Why the failings of judges are kept in the family: “…the ombudsman will be able to review complaints about judges. You cannot complain that the judge has decided your case in the wrong way: that’s a matter for the appeal courts. But you can object to inappropriate remarks made during the course of a trial…”: Thursday 30 June 2005: Read the article

The Lawyer, UK: Judge Laddie quits bench in shock Willoughbys move: Tuesday 28 June 2005: Read the article

The Guardian (UK): A noble cause: Why should judges who quit early keep their knighthoods? Plus, legal aid – the forgotten scandal: “In 1964 one of England’s greatest judges of the last century, Lord Devlin, shocked the legal world by suddenly retiring as a law lord at the extraordinarily early age of 58.”: “Had he stayed – and there was no retiring age at the time – his impact on the law would have been prodigious. I do not think the same will be said of Mr Justice Laddie.”: Posted Tuesday 28 June 2004: Read the article

The Lawyer (UK): Grapevine: Thoroughly modern Langley: it’s time courts caught up: “…a few years ago it would have been unheard of, just as Mr Justice Laddie’s imminent departure to a lowly law firm would historically have resulted in his being shunned by his colleagues at the bar.” Posted Tuesday 28 June 2005: Read the article

The Guardian (UK): A law unto himself: A high court judge announced this week that he was quitting his job because it was just too boring. Surely Mr Justice Laddie’s cases can’t be as dull as all that? Stephen Moss took a seat in court 58 to find out”: “Yesterday, Laddie was making one of his last appearances – he will officially step down on July 18: Friday 24 June 2005: Read the article

Daily Telegraph (UK): Boredom, comedy, high drama – what more could a judge ask for? “Anybody who has sat through a long court case will have a great deal of sympathy with Mr Justice Laddie, who looks like a jolly sort of fellow from his photograph.”: Friday 24 June 2005: Read the article

The Guardian (UK): Boredom forces judge to quit: “Mr Justice Laddie has risked the disapproval of the legal establishment by breaking the unwritten convention that the bench is a life sentence ended only by retirement or death. Yesterday his resignation was the talk of the inns of court”: “A spokeswoman for the lord chancellor said yesterday: “We don’t comment on judges’ resignations.”: Posted Friday 24 June 2005: Read the article

The Independent (UK): John Walsh: Tales of the city: “What is one to make of the behaviour of Sir Hugh Laddie, better known as Mr Justice Laddie…”: Posted Friday 24 June 2005: Read the article High Court judge resigns to join law firm: For the first time in 35 years a High Court judge has voluntarily stepped down from his post.: “Mr Justice Laddie – from now on to be known as plain old Sir Hugh – will hang up his red dressing gown next month” 23 June 2005: Read the article Mr Justice Laddie, the High Court Judge who has been the subject of calls for an investigation into his handling on the Shell/Donovan “SMART trial (and has been cited by Shell in the domain name battle) resigns from the Bench claiming he is “bored”.: Thursday 23 June 2005: Read the article

Financial Times: Patent judge makes consultancy switch: By Ruth Sullivan: Sir Hugh Laddie, 59, senior judge of the patents court, will retire from the high court bench this autumn to join Rouse & Co Inter- national, the intellectual property consultancy, and Willoughby & Partners/ Rouse Legal, its associated UK law firm, as a near full-time consultant. He will head its new intellectual property arbitration and mediation practice and support its patent practice. #mce_temp_url#

 5RB Media and Entertainment Law: High Court Judge quits the bench: “Laddie, 59, was appointed to the Chancery Division in May 1995 and becomes the first High Court judge in 35 years voluntarily to resign.”: “Peter Leaver, QC, one of Laddie J’s friends was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying that he believed that the resignation would “upset” the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, and the new Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips:”22 June 2005 Read the article

Daily Telegraph (UK): ‘Bored’ High Court judge resigns: 22 June 2005: Read the article

Willoughby & Partners: Press Release: Sir Hugh Laddie leaves High Court to join Willoughby & Partners/Rouse Legal: 22 June 2005: READ

The Scotsman: High Court Judge to Join Firm of Solicitors: “An eminent judge is to take the unusual step of leaving the High Court bench to join a firm of solicitors, it was confirmed today.”: Wednesday 22 June 2005: Read the article

The Lawyer: Mr Justice Laddie set to join Willoughbys: “Tony Willoughby, senior partner at Willoughby & Partners/Rouse Legal said: “Sir Hugh is the first High Court judge to leave the Bench to join a law firm.”: Wednesday 22 June 2005: Read the article SHELL, MR JUSTICE LADDIE AND “JUSTICE”: Thu 20 May 2004: The overall situation became so heated that Shell displayed posters at the Shell Centre making defamatory comments about my son and me. We promptly sued Shell for Libel. We subsequently withdrew the libel action after receiving a substantial consideration (worth £125,000) from Shell. 

Daily Telegraph: Brief encounters: 01/02/2007

The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel: The UK: Quality Courts Attract Business: February 2008



Former Judge, London Law Professor Hugh Laddie Dies at 62: Bloomberg 2 December 2008

He often courted controversy as a High Court judge. In a 2002 trademark dispute involving Arsenal Football Club Plc memorabilia, he refused to follow a decision from the European Court of Justice, saying the court had exceeded its jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal disagreed, overturning Laddie’s judgment.

In Memoriam Sir Hugh Laddie November 30, 2008

Professor Sir Hugh Laddie: Daily Telegraph 03 December 2008

“Professor Sir Hugh Laddie, who died on November 29 aged 62, caused a sensation in legal circles in 2005 when he resigned as a high court judge saying the job was “unstimulating”; instead he joined a firm of solicitors specialising in intellectual property law. ”

Sir Hugh Laddie: The Guardian 2 December 2008


Tony Willoughby, Rouse Legal, UK Says:

December 4th, 2008 at 1:10 pm
Hugh was a wonderful friend and colleague, whom I first met over 35 years ago. His decision to leave the bench for my firm was without doubt the proudest moment of my professional life. His time with us was all too short, but he used it to prodigious effect and touched everybody from the most senior to the most junior with his humour, honesty, integrity and downright decency. The courage with which he faced his final illness had to be seen to be believed. Altogether, a remarkable man in so many ways, who will be sorely missed throughout the world of IP and beyond. Our thoughts are with his loving family whom he adored.

8 New Square Chambers: Professor Sir Hugh Laddie 1946 – 2008:

When Mr Justice Laddie announced his intention to resign from the bench in 2005, it came as a shock to the judicial system. Eyebrows were raised, particularly since he was sure to have been appointed to the Court of Appeal, had he stayed. But he chose freedom over promotion and found refuge as a consultant in the firm of Rouse & Co (then Willoughby & Co), a firm founded by an old friend.

Daniel Alexander QC Tribute:

When Mr Justice Laddie announced his intention to resign from the bench in 2005, it came as a shock to the judicial system. Eyebrows were raised, particularly since he was sure to have been appointed to the Court of Appeal, had he stayed. But he chose freedom over promotion and found refuge as a consultant in the firm of Rouse & Co (then Willoughby & Co), a firm founded by an old friend. He was active there, giving expert evidence, travelling round the world and advising on numerous cases.

The Times: Service of thanksgiving: Professor Sir Hugh Laddie: 5 March 2009

Mr James Laddie, son, Lord Justice Jacob, Mr Mark Platts-Mills, QC, Mr Tony Willoughby and Professor Malcolm Grant paid tribute.

Rouse: A Tribute to Professor Sir Hugh Laddie QCProfessor Sir Hugh Laddie, QC 1946 – 2008

On 22 June, 2005 a Daily Telegraph headline announced: “‘Bored’ High Court judge resigns”. It was an unfortunate headline because ‘bored’ was not the journalist’s word, nor was it Hugh Laddie’s word. It was the work of a sub-editor. It was an unfortunate word to use, because it is often said that only boring people get bored and the one word that could never be used to describe Hugh Laddie was ‘boring’. Anyone who ever had the good fortune to come into contact with him cannot have failed to have been impressed by his enthusiasm and relentless energy.

We at Rouse were very fortunate to be the direct beneficiary of his decision to leave the High Court bench. He joined us as a consultant in October of that year. From the moment he arrived, he hit the ground running. Calls came in from far and wide for the benefit of his advice. Internally, there was some nervousness at suddenly having a High Court judge sitting among us, but he quickly established himself as a friendly and engaging source of help and encouragement at all levels from the most senior to the most junior. He wanted to get involved in our mediation practice and immediately departed on the CEDR course which he passed with flying colours. This surprised many, who thought, from experiencing him first hand in the Patents Court, that he was far too opinionated to make a successful mediator. However, as with everything he turned his hand to, he proved an immediate ‘hit’.

Another area of interest to him was the development of IP law internationally. He visited many of our overseas offices and wherever he went his reputation had preceded him and he always found himself in great demand to address meetings and meet the local IP dignitaries, something that gave him the greatest of pleasure.

This broader IP interest he subsequently went on to develop in conjunction with UCL in his capacity as Chair of Intellectual Property Law and, more recently, Director of the Institute of Brand and Innovation Law.

To those of us who knew Hugh at the Bar, it came as no surprise when he arrived with us that he was an innately friendly, fun-loving individual with an easy and engaging manner that never failed to bring a smile to one’s face. However, in his latter years as a judge in the Patents Court, he became only too well aware that he was becoming more and more frustrated and bad-tempered, which was not his nature. It was this as much as anything else, which made him realise that he was no longer suited to his judicial role.

He was also a courageous man. He never shirked what he perceived to be his duty. In one case as a junior barrister he took on the Law Society and had a Council member struck off for perjury and fraud. The opposition were represented by two of the premier Silks of the day. It must have been a nerve-racking experience, but he stuck to it and won the day. As a judge, in the Arsenal case he felt strongly that the European Court of Justice had overstepped the mark and did not hesitate to say so. Over the last year or so he has displayed another sort of courage altogether in the calm, open and dignified way in which he faced his final illness.

He is widely credited as being the founding father of the Anton Piller Order (i.e. the Search Order) and it is worth noting that his engagement with that jurisdiction very nearly went the full distance. He was counsel in the case when the order was first granted. He was counsel in the case, which went to the Court of Appeal and gave the order its original name. He was the original counsel on behalf of the defendant in Universal Thermosensors v Hibben, the case which resulted in the jurisdiction receiving a much needed review and introduction of the Supervising Solicitor. As a judge he granted these orders from time to time and, last year, we put his name forward as a potential Supervising ‘Solicitor’, but sadly the application was aborted and he never got the chance to see one in action.

We have lost a dear friend and incomparable colleague long before his time; nonetheless we count ourselves privileged to have known at close hand, albeit far too briefly, someone who is rightly described by his friends in his old chambers at 8 New Square as ‘one of the great figures of our field’.

Our thoughts are with his family and not least, Stecia, his wife of 38 years standing, whom he adored, his mother, Rachel, his children, James, Gideon and Joanna, his brother, Miles, his sister, Judith, and, last but not least, his grandchildren, whom he was wont to describe as the icing on the cake. 

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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