Judge Laddie quits bench in shock Willoughbys move

Mr Justice Laddie stunned the IP world last week by resigning from the bench and becoming the first judge to join a law firm.

As first revealed on www. thelawyer.com (22 June), Judge Laddie, the senior judge of the Patents Court, will join IP consultancy Willoughby & Partners/ Rouse Legal in October as a consultant.

Tony Willoughby, senior partner at Willoughbys, said: “[Judge Laddie] has long held the view that there are many commercial disputes for which litigation does not necessarily provide the best solution. He believes he has more to offer than is possible in his current job and that he will be able to make a greater contribution with us.”

It is known that Judge Laddie has been unhappy with his role for some time, but promotion to the Court of Appeal was unlikely and a return to the bar was denied him by rules to protect the independence of the bar. He will not be returning to advocacy with Willoughbys, but will lead the firm’s new arbitration and mediation practice.

While some IP lawyers predicted that Judge Laddie would not be replaced due to a drop in litigation, the Lord Chief Justice’s office said that a successor will be found.

Following a string of appearances as a deputy judge, Christopher Floyd QC, head of 11 South Square, leads the list of candidates to replace Judge Laddie. Floyd’s colleague Richard Arnold QC has also impressed as a deputy judge. Simon Thorley QC of 3 New Square may have the style and wit to replace Judge Laddie, but he has always claimed that he does not want the role. Other contenders could be Geoffrey Hobbs QC of One Essex Court and David Kitchin QC of 8 New Square.