Lord Justice Goldring (Doctor of Laws)

Friday 13 July, 11am

Lord Justice Goldring is one of the premier judges in England.  He has given a lifetime of service to the law, propelled steadily upwards through the system by his exceptional talent and unshakable commitment to justice for us all.

John Goldring was born in Leicester.  His parents had arrived in the UK from different troubled parts of Europe but made this City their home, and made a success of their lives, so John had a happy childhood.  He attended a local primary school before moving to Wyggeston School, just next to this University.  John took some time to find his academic feet, as he enjoyed the freedoms of those times dashing around on a motor scooter, but after a slight hiatus he went to the University of Exeter to read law.  He enjoyed the good life there too, but was eventually tamed by Wendy; the woman who was to become, and still is, his wife and he settled down to show his true intellectual mettle.

Although initially uncertain, John soon decided that a life of advocacy was for him, and he was fortunate to become a pupil at chambers with a strong Midlands connection, and so gain exceptional mentorship by senior colleagues.  He was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1969, and remained at the same chambers throughout his career as a barrister, rising inexorably to its Head.  When asked what his seniors saw in him as a pupil and junior barrister, John identifies quite correctly his common sense and capacity for hard work, but says with characteristic modesty that he was ‘not a bad advocate’ - an assertion that is simply not supported by the evidence of his subsequent career of quite exceptional advocacy.

Starting with a mixed criminal and civil case load, he soon established his reputation in the highly competitive world of the Bar, and in 1987 he took silk, moving rapidly into a series of high profile cases, many with Midlands’s connections, and often with a medical flavour.  John enjoyed life at the Bar immensely, and valued highly the supportive community of colleagues who were ruthlessly competitive in court, but collegial outside.  He was, however destined for greater things, and in 1987 he began to sit as a recorder – a part time judge - on the Midland Circuit, keeping true to his geographical roots and sitting often in the Crown Court at Leicester.  During this time he also enjoyed working in the Channel Islands, as a Judge in their Courts of Appeal, and as Deputy Senior Judge of the Sovereign Base area of Cyprus.  John never stopped enjoying practice as a barrister, but the time finally came for him to move permanently to the bench, and in 1999 he was appointed to the High Court of Justice, and assigned to the Queen’s bench division.  Now Sir John Goldring, he presided over a wide range of high profile cases and cemented his reputation as a man of exceptional analytical capacity and judgement. 

In 2001, Sir John also became a presiding judge on the Midland Circuit, enhancing further his already exceptional reputation, so in 2008, he became a Lord Justice of Appeal, and a member of the Privy Council.  Soon afterwards he rose to his present position as Senior Presiding Judge, overseeing the work of Presiding Judges in each circuit in England and Wales.  He provides a point of liaison between the judiciary, the courts and government departments.  He has overall responsibility for deployment of work in the courts, and deals with personnel issues below the level of the high court, including liaison with magistrates.

John Goldring is so obviously driven by a desire to do his honest best to ensure justice.  He strives to make sure that people experiencing some of the most challenging times of their lives in a system they often do not understand, are listened to, and dealt with effectively and fairly.  He remains convinced that the independence of the judiciary is the bedrock of our system of justice, and uses his considerable skills of advocacy to argue that case in all quarters.

John has never lost his Midland connections.  He continues to live in Rutland, and his wife Wendy is a prominent figure alongside him in the local community, being Vice Lord Lieutenant and past High Sheriff of the County.

Lord Justice Goldring is one of the key people in our society who defend the freedoms we all value so highly, but so often also take for granted.  Everyone should be grateful that his considerable talents are directed to protecting us all.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, on the recommendation of Senate and Council I present to you the Right Honourable Lord Justice Goldring that you may confer upon him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.

Written and delivered by Professor Stewart Petersen

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