“I think they have appointed another uninspiring technocrat with no imagination – someone who is simply going to crunch things through.”

    Such sentiments about newly appointed judges are not unusual, particularly among disillusioned barristers over a bottle or two of El Vino’s claret. But in this case, the comment comes from a sober,
    well-respected silk. And the judge in question? None other than the new Lord Chief Justice (LCJ) of England and Wales, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, heir to Lord Chief Justice Woolf, who retired on 30 September.

    Phillips was educated at Bryanston School and King’s College, Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1962 and practised mainly in shipping. After five years serving as counsel to the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury on Admiralty matters, he was made a QC in 1978 and sat as a recorder from 1982 to 1987. Becoming a High Court judge in 1987, he later presided over the complex fraud trials involving the Maxwell brothers, Kevin and Ian, sons of the disgraced tycoon Robert, and
    investment company Barlow Clowes. He was appointed as a Law Lord in January 1999, and two months later sat on one of General Augusto Pinochet’s appeals. Lord Phillips ruled that the former Chilean dictator had no immunity for extraditable crimes. In June 2000, he was appointed Master of the Rolls – putting him in charge of the civil division of the Court of Appeal.