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Alan Rawley QC’s memorial service


Alan Rawley QC (1934 – 2014) died on 26th August, aged 79, in Ibiza.

Alan was called to the Bar in 1958, appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1977. He was still practising at the date of his death and had been a member of Chambers – in Lamb Building, then 35 Essex Street and then to Outer Temple – for the whole of his professional career. He served as Head of Chambers from 1989 (succeeding Sir David Calcutt QC) to 1996 and it was under his tenure that Chambers effected the move from Lamb Building to 35 Essex Street.

A member of the Western Circuit, as a junior, Alan’s practice was in serious crime and general common law civil work both on Circuit and in London.

In silk Alan was in constant demand, attracted high quality work and appeared in numerous high profile cases. His practice continued with serious crime – on Circuit Alan was the silk of choice for many juniors, having a particularly strong link with Winchester, Exeter and Southampton. He appeared before the Privy Council in Commonwealth Appeals. He was for many years instructed by the Metropolitan Police in civil claims brought against them. He acted successfully for the police authority in the House of Lords in the prominent case of Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire in which the Claimant had sought to establish a duty of care on the part of the police to the family of a victim of Peter Sutcliffe, the so called Yorkshire Ripper.

In the 1980s Alan was at the forefront of the development of clinical negligence. In 1987, he acted for a student Samir Aboul-Hosn recovering damages of £1,032,000, then the highest award in the field and the first in a seven figure sum.

But it was in the area of commercial fraud that Alan came to be recognised as one of the pre-eminent practitioners. He was instructed in the Guinness, the Blue Arrow and Polly Peck prosecutions and he developed an extensive practice in mortgage frauds following the 1990s property crash.

Alan had a particularly easy manner with a jury; he loved jury advocacy. Alan was always prepared to stand up to judges with a straight talking tenacity.

One of Alan’s proudest moments at the Bar was the day when his daughter, Dominique took silk.

This year, although aged 79 and over 55 years’ call Alan was still combining practice – defending GMC cases in a semi-retirement, dividing his time between London and Ibiza with his wife, Jane, his 3 children and their families.

He had a justified reputation as a truly great advocate. Yet, Alan was always also remarkably friendly and approachable. He had a good sense of humour. Alan thoroughly enjoyed relating Circuit Ghosts at Mess.

In addition to his practice at the Bar, Alan sat as a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeal Panel and its predecessor from 1999-2008; he was for many years an arbitrator on claims to the MIB in respect of untraced drivers; he was a Recorder of the Crown Court 1972-1999, a senior Bencher of the Middle Temple (elected 1985), and was Autumn Reader 2004. Alan had been a Fellow Commoner of Magdalene College Cambridge since 1991.

In 2007 Alan and Professor Brian Caddy prepared a report for the then Home Secretary by way of and Independent Review of forensic work carried out by the Forensic Science Service (FSS) during the police investigation into the death of Damilola Taylor.

Chambers marked Alan’s 50 years call with a dinner in Hall. It was a memorable occasion.

The funeral service was in his local village Church in Ibiza, a service attended by many locals, a reflection upon his involvement in village and wider Ibicencan life.

To those in the profession and to clients he will be missed as a prominent Queen’s Counsel; to those of us who knew him well, he will be greatly missed as a friend.

Christopher Wilson-Smith QC
Richard Mawhinney

Alan Rawley’s Memorial Service will be held at Temple Church on Wednesday 3rd December at 18.00. Reception to follow in Middle Temple Hall.

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