Chancery Division judge Mr Justice Walker has been appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal in what is thought to be one of the quickest promotions ever to the court.
Mr Justice Walker is one of three judges to receive promotions following the retirement of Lord Justices Leggatt and Waite, and Lord Justice Saville's recent appointment as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.
The other two judges are Mr Justice Chadwick, also of the Chancery Division, and Mr Justice Mantell, of the Queen's Bench Division. All three will join the court on 1 October.
Walker only joined the bench as a Justice of the High Court in 1994 but has now been promoted over the heads of at least 10 more senior judges.
Alastair Norris, a Chancery QC at 5 Stone Buildings, Walker's old chambers, said: “He will be sorely missed as a judge of first instance in the Chancery Division.”
Norris said Chadwick had been rewarded for his work outside London as Chancery Supervising Judge for Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff. “Although Mr Justice Chadwick is less familiar to London Chancery practitioners, he has a very impressive record.”
Mantell joins the Court of Appeal after being Presiding Judge of the Western Circuit from 1993 to 1996.
Frank Abbott, of Pump Court Chambers and spokesman for the Western Circuit, said this was a rare route to the Court of Appeal, but reflected how “extremely bright” Mantell was.
Speculation now centres on who will replace Chadwick and Walker in the Chancery Division.
The hot favourites are Treasury Counsel William Charles and Hazel Williamson QC both at 13 Old Square and Elizabeth Gloster QC at 1 Essex Court, who worked with Chadwick on the Guinness trial.