We meet on the sombre anniversary of the appalling events of 9/11 – a stark reminder that our legal system and country do not exist in a vacuum. National defence apart, there are few (if any) areas more important than our justice system and I am delighted to attend the National Bench Chairmen’s Forum’s Annual Conference for the second year running.
It is a pleasure to join you again and to have had the opportunity to meet and speak with many of you last night. It is clear that Bench Chairmen share a sense of enormous dedication to the work they do and I thank you for it. I note that the themes of this conference are “working together”, “managing change” and “delivering justice.” All three go to the heart of a Bench Chairman’s role.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay a particular tribute to your Chairman, Eric Windsor. We have worked closely together over the last 18 months or so – and for me it has been a pleasure. Inevitably, we do not always agree but in Eric you have an excellent ambassador who ensures that your views have been well and attractively canvassed before any conclusions are reached. I am aware that his period of office comes to an end later this year. I will greatly miss my regular meetings with Eric – much as I look forward to working closely with his successor.