Farewell to Morland J

Valediction for retiring Judge of the Jury List

The valediction for Mr Justice Morland was held today before a packed Lord Chief Justice’s Court in the Royal Court of Justice in London.


Joined on the bench with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, Lord Justice Rose, Lord Justice Judge and the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Andrew Morritt were many judges from all the divisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal, including two of the current Jury list judges, Mr Justice Eady and Mr Justice Gray.


Sir Michael, who celebrates his 75th birthday tomorrow, was appointed to the Queen’s Bench Division in July 1989 before later being appointed to be Judge in charge of the jury list. A former member of the Northern Circuit, he tried many of the celebrated defamation and media cases including Naomi Campbell v The Mirror and Hamilton v Fayed.


Lord Woolf in a long speech paid tribute to Morland J’s intellect and ability and said that his forced retirement at 75 robbed the High Court of a very talented judge. He also revealed that his brother judges often referred to Morland J as the “headmaster” for his readiness to provide help and guidance to more junior judges.


On behalf of the bar, in particular the defamation and media bar, 5RB’s Desmond Browne QC told the Court of many notable highlights of the Judge’s career, in particular his contribution to the development of the law of defamation in the cases of O’Shea v The Mirror and Godfrey v Demon Internet. Wishing the Judge a long and happy retirement, Mr Browne added:


“… you leave a permanent memorial: the Bar’s affectionate respect and a notable contribution to the law and practice of defamation.”


Richard Rampton QC added his best wishes from the barristers at 1 Brick Court and expressed the hope that the judge could now retire to a life of normality after his sojourn on “planet defamation”.


In his farewell address, Mr Justice Morland thanked the media bar for all the assistance they had given to him as a novice in relation to the law of defamation. He also made special mention of the support he had received from his Clerk, Jim MacKinnon, and the associates and ushers with whom he had worked and who were, in the judge’s words, “the unsung heros and heroines” of the Court Service.


The full text of Desmond Browne QC’s address is available by clicking on the icon below.