The legal profession has been rocked by the announcement that Lord Taylor has cancer and is retiring as Lord Chief Justice after four years in office.
Criminal Bar Association chair Anne Rafferty QC said Taylor's announcement had come as an “enormous shock” to the profession.
“I thought he combined the ability to command respect and the ability to be liked in a very nice mix,” she said.
“That applies to members of the Bar and also to appellants.”
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, said: “I would like to acknowledge the very positive working relationship we have enjoyed since Taylor's appointment in 1992 and to pay tribute to his great energy and commitment, to his achievements, and to his contribution to the development of the criminal law.”
Top criminal solicitor Anthony Edwards of TV Edwards said Taylor had been willing to point out the practical disadvantages of government proposals “at a time when we have virtually no opposition”.
“He has shown himself to be a leader in a way members of the judiciary have not previously done,” said Edwards. “He has made an enormous impression in making the judiciary far more understood.”
Head of 1 Hare Court Chambers, Michael Kalisher QC, said it was a tragedy that Taylor was retiring.
He said Taylor's approach helped to improve public confidence in the judiciary.
“He was willing to stand up and clearly state his view irrespective of politicians,” said Kalisher.
He added: “He is a difficult act to follow. I hope he is replaced by someone with a similar approach.”
Lord Justice Rose, Lord Justice Auld and Lord Woolf have so far been tipped as possible successors to Taylor.