Following an open competition run by the Judicial Appointments Commission, the appointments of 13 High Court Judges were announced in August and September 2017. There will be more announcements in the coming months.
Julian B Knowles QC
Julian grew up on a council estate in Manchester and attended the local comprehensive school. He read mathematics at Balliol College, Oxford; one of the first generation of his family to attend university. Julian initially intended to be a mathematician but was inspired to become a barrister after spending the summer of 1990 as a volunteer paralegal with death row prisoners in Oklahoma. Julian was called to the Bar in 1994 and was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel in 2011. He specialised in complex criminal law, extradition, human rights law, public law and media law. During his career Julian appeared in numerous significant cases including: the Pinochet extradition case; the Siôn Jenkins murder case; the Dewani 'honeymoon murder' extradition case; the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes; and the MPs' expenses prosecutions. He was also one of the counsel team that brought a number of constitutional appeals in the Privy Council which resulted in restrictions on the death penalty in the Caribbean. Julian has written a number of legal books and is the co-author of the extradition textbook ‘Nicholls, Montgomery and Knowles’. He was appointed as a Recorder in 2009 and as Deputy High Court Judge in 2017.
Matthew Nicklin QC
Matthew grew up in Pembrokeshire, Wales and attended Tasker Milward Comprehensive School in Haverfordwest. He went to Newcastle University and was the first member of his family to qualify as a lawyer. Matthew became a barrister and was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in October 1993. He was awarded a Pegasus Scholarship by the Inns of Court in 1998 and undertook a placement in Sydney Australia with King Wood Mallesons and Justice David Levine at the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Matthew was a barrister member of the Board of the Bar Standards Board from 2008 to 2013. During his legal career he represented the UCATT claimants in their successful group action against a large number of construction companies arising from the covert blacklisting of construction workers. He also appeared in the Supreme Court for the child OPO in his claim to stop publication of his father’s autobiography. He was appointed a Recorder in 2009.
Clare was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and Aylesbury High School. She then studied law at Clare College Cambridge. After law school at Guildford she joined the law firm Linklaters. She qualified as a solicitor in 1984 specialising in banking and capital markets transactions acting for major FTSE companies and international investment banks. She became a partner in 1991 leading teams working on a variety of financing transactions both in the UK and abroad: Eurobonds, share placements, takeover finance, corporate restructuring. With the development of the derivatives market, Clare then focused on innovative structured finance transactions for a leading investment bank. Clare was appointed a Recorder in 2010 and a Deputy High Court Judge in 2013 sitting in the administrative court. Since 2015 she has been a specialist Mercantile Circuit Judge based at Manchester Civil Justice Centre dealing with disputes of a commercial nature as well as sitting in the administrative court/Upper Tribunal (Immigration) and as a Circuit Judge in the Crown Court.
David Williams QC
David Williams grew up in Leighton Buzzard, Hertfordshire where he attended the local primary school and Cedar’s Upper Comprehensive School. He was the first generation of his family to go to university and after studying law at Leicester University, he became the first lawyer in his family. David worked for the Legal Aid Board for 3 years before training as a barrister. He went on to specialise in family law, particularly in children cases with an international dimension and has also acted in private law disputes where there are psychological issues, such as personality disorders and parental alienation. In his legal career, he has appeared twice in the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the UK Supreme Court. He is the editor of the children volume of Rayden and Jackson, a leading family law textbook and co-author of ‘International Issues in Family Law’.
Simon Bryan QC
Simon Bryan was born in Blackpool Lancashire, and educated at Arnold School Blackpool being the recipient of a local authority grant to fund his education. He was the first person in his family to be educated at university and obtained an honours degree in law at Magdalene College Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1988 by Lincoln's Inn (becoming a Bencher in 2013). He has practised at the Commercial Bar at 4 Essex Court (now Essex Court Chambers) for 29 years. As a junior he acted in the Lloyd's litigation and as counsel for British Shipbuilders in the Public Inquiry into the loss of the M.V. Derbyshire. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 2006, and acted on behalf of one of the successful defendants in the long-running Fiona Trust litigation. He was appointed a Recorder in 2009 and a deputy high court judge in 2013, initially in the Administrative Court and subsequently in the Commercial Court. In 2015 he was appointed as Chief Justice of the Falkland Islands and other Overseas Territories.
Akhlaq Choudhury QC
Akhlaq Choudhury QC was born in Winchester to parents who had settled here from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). He grew up on the outskirts of Glasgow where he attended the local comprehensive, Bishopbriggs High School. He was the first in his family to attend university, graduating from the University of Glasgow in physics and then from the University of London (SOAS) with a first in law. He was called to the Bar in 1992 and was a member of the Attorney General’s A and B panels of Treasury Counsel. In 2009, he was appointed a Recorder of the Crown Court. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 2015 and a deputy high court judge in 2016.
Sara Cockerill QC
Sara Cockerill was educated at her local Church of England junior school before being awarded a full local authority grant to attend Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton. She went on to study jurisprudence at St Anne’s College, Oxford and was awarded the University’s Eldon Scholarship. Called to the Bar in 1990 (Lincoln’s Inn) and appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2011, she practised at the Commercial Bar from 1991 as a member of Essex Court Chambers. She gained wide experience in international commercial law in a variety of courts and arbitration tribunals. Sara specialised in disputes arising from shipping and international trading transactions, insurance and reinsurance claims, conflicts of law and compelled evidence in civil proceedings. She is the author of the main textbook on the latter subject and is the editor of two sections of the White Book (Commercial Court and Arbitration). Sara has sat as an arbitrator in a variety of arbitral proceedings and has been a deputy high court judge in the Commercial Court and Administrative Court since 2016. She is a keen student of medieval history; her biography of Eleanor of Castile was published in 2014 and she is currently working on a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Jonathan Cohen QC
Born and brought up in London, Jonathan is the third generation of his family to be a barrister of Lincoln's Inn. He was educated at Eton and Kent University Law School in Canterbury. Called to the Bar in 1974, Jonathan’s early practice was in general common law practice before he specialised in family law. The largest part of his practice has been dealing with financial settlements following divorce and he has also done a significant number of cases involving children, including acting for parents accused of serious child abuse. He has been a Recorder since 1993 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1997. He was appointed as a deputy high court judge of the Family Division in 2005 and was appointed Tribunal Judge (formerly referred to as Chairman), First-tier Tribunal (Health, Education and Social Care Chamber) Mental Health (Restricted Patients Panel) in 2000.
Julian Goose QC
Julian Goose is a senior circuit judge. Born in Cheshire, he attended his local comprehensive school before studying law at Leeds University. Called to the Bar in 1984 he practised criminal and civil law in Leeds, becoming Head of Zenith Chambers in 2004. He was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2002 and was a member of 2 Hare Court, Temple in London specialising in crime. Julian was appointed Honorary Recorder of Sheffield and Senior Circuit Judge in 2013. He has also sat part-time in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and the Queen’s Bench Division, Administrative Court. Julian is a judicial member of the Sentencing Council.
Gwynneth Knowles QC
Gwynneth was a barrister before becoming a salaried judge of the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) in July 2014. She was born in Oxford and grew up in Manchester and Birmingham where she attended local state schools. She studied modern history at Oxford before training as a social worker and completing a Master’s Degree in Applied Social Studies at Oxford. She worked as a social worker in London for several years before retraining as a barrister. She was called to the Bar in 1993 and became a Queen's Counsel in 2011. She practised from 4 Brick Court Chambers in London before moving to Liverpool in 2001 where she became a tenant at Atlantic Chambers. She was subsequently a door tenant at 18 St John Street Chambers in Manchester. Gwynneth specialised in family law acting for parents in relationship breakdown and for parents, children and local authorities in cases of chronic neglect, sexual abuse, serious physical and emotional abuse and death of children. She is the first lawyer in her family. She was appointed a fee-paid judge of the Mental Health Tribunal in 2007. Since 2015 she has also sat as an Upper Tribunal Judge in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber. In July 2016 she was appointed as a deputy high court judge assigned to the Family Division.
Peter grew up in Worcester, attending a state primary school, followed by a state grammar school. He was the first in his family to go to university and also the first to become a lawyer. He initially trained as a barrister but became a solicitor when he entered private practice, after 5 years drafting legislation in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. In private practice, he worked as a Parliamentary Agent and solicitor, specialising in infrastructure projects. During that time, he began his judicial career as a fee-paid immigration adjudicator. His judicial work was entirely in the field of immigration until he became President of the General Regulatory Chamber in 2014. The GRC has over 60 jurisdictions, including information rights, data protection, environment, community assets and pensions regulation. Peter has been a deputy high court judge since 2016.
Martin Spencer QC
Martin was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and brought up in Oxford where his father practised as a consultant psychiatrist. After attending a local primary school, he and his twin brother were educated at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire. Martin went on to study law at Hertford College, Oxford and spent a year at the Institute of Criminal Science, Copenhagen University before beginning pupillage at Fountain Court Chambers and later joining Hailsham Chambers. Martin had a broad common law practice before specialising in medical law. He has extensive experience in in the field of clinical negligence, particularly in relation to birth injury, spinal injury and brain injury.Appointed as a Recorder in 2001 and a Queen’s Counsel in 2003, he was Head of Chambers from 2009 to 2016. He has served on a number of Bar Council committees and is a co-author of a key legal text book ‘McGregor on Damages’. Outside the law, he is a keen choral singer, his choirs include the St Albans Bach Choir.
Amanda Yip QC
Amanda was born in Liverpool and educated at Merchant Taylors' Girls' School in Crosby before studying law at Cambridge. Called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1991, she subsequently returned to Liverpool and began pupillage at Exchange Chambers. Initially Amanda had a broad common law practice covering crime, family and civil cases before specialising in high value personal injury and clinical negligence work. She has extensive experience in dealing with claims involving children and vulnerable adults and has acted in military cases including claims involving incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Amanda became a Queen’s Counsel in 2011. She was appointed as a Recorder in 2008, and was authorised to sit as a deputy high court judge in 2013. Having juggled practice through maternity leave and part-time working Amanda is a strong supporter of flexible working at the Bar.