This year Southwark Crown Court saw 40 years of public service as a Crown Court centre. To mark the occasion, the Southwark judges held a reception in the Great Hall at the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday 5 October. The event was a great success; over 400 people attended including 70 current or former members of court staff. It provided a wonderful opportunity for those who have played a part in Southwark’s life over the last 40 years to come together and celebrate the occasion.
Southwark has 15 courts and is the specialist trial centre for heavy fraud and long and complex cases in England and Wales. The Court was opened on 22 March 1983 by HRH The Princess Royal in the presence of Lord Hailsham (then Lord Chancellor), Lord Lane (then Lord Chief Justice), Lord Justice Watkins VC, and (the then) Mr Justice Woolf.
HHJ Baumgartner, the current Resident Judge, gave an address to those assembled, which touched upon the history of Southwark and some of its more notable fraud cases, including the Libor-rigging trials from the middle of the last decade; rogue traders of varying types; and the bribery and corruption scandals involving some of the biggest names in the City. HHJ Baumgartner delivered a vote of thanks to the staff of Southwark past and present, including HMCTS, Security, and Probation.
Although the quantity has been low, the quality of Southwark’s women judges has been very high, and this was remarked upon by Dame Sue Carr, the Lady Chief Justice of England and Wales, in her address. Southwark’s female alumni include the eminent jurists Mrs Justice (Juliet) May, Her Excellency Joanna Korner CMG (now a judge of the International Criminal Court), and HH Sally Cahill KC (a former Chair of the Council of HM Circuit Judges). All three attended the event, as did HH Deborah Taylor, who now chairs both the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service and the Criminal Legal Aid Advisory Board. The Lady Chief Justice also highlighted Southwark’s notable firsts, including the first Sikh circuit judge (HH Sir Mota Singh QC), and the first summing up to a jury by a judge from hospital after surgery for a broken leg (HH Valerie Perlman).
In his closing address, Lord Justice Edis, the Senior Presiding Judge of England and Wales, touched upon his own experience in sitting as a judge at Southwark, and his experience now as SPJ of the ways in which Southwark continues to contribute to the development of best practices in heavy fraud and long and complex trial work. Lord Justice Edis also delivered a vote of thanks to the court users.