ShellNews.net: Mr Justice Laddie, the High Court Judge who has been the subject of calls for an investigation into his handling on the Shell/Donovan “SMART trial (and has been cited by Shell in the royaldutchshellplc domain name battle) resigns from the Bench claiming he is “bored”.: Thursday 23 June 2005
By Alfred Donovan
In what has been described in “The Scotsman” as “an unusual step”, Mr Justice Laddie, 59, has announced his voluntary resignation from the UK judiciary. He is joining Willoughby & Partners/Rouse Legal, a firm of UK solicitors, as a consultant. Sir Huge Laddie QC is reportedly the first Judge to leave the bench in such circumstances for 35 years.
A front page story published in the Daily Telegraph indicates that the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, is likely to view Sir Hughes return to the legal profession “as a breach of the unwritten rule – almost an unspoken oath – that joining the Bench is a one way street.” The move is so extraordinary that speculation has naturally arisen about the reasons for his departure.
It is no doubt purely coincidental that I have raised serious issues with the Lord Chancellor and the Prime Minister in relation to the “Shell Smart” High Court trial heard by Mr Justice Laddie in June 1999 and have been pressing for an investigation. A Member of Parliament, Mr Bob Russell has also taken up relevant matters on my behalf with Government Ministers. The correspondence is current.
GREAT SIGNIFICANCE ATTACHED TO IMPARTIALITY
In this connection it is interesting to note the great significance rightfully attached to the question of impartiality by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in respect of arbitration carried out under their auspices. A three person “independent” panel is currently being formed by the WIPO to adjudicate the current “royaldutchshellplc.com domain name dispute – my latest battle with Shell. For some reason, Shell quoted in its “Complaint” biased comments made by Mr Justice Laddie in relation to my son and the Smart trial.
Before making a panelist appointment, the WIPO checks with each prospective panelist whether there are any facts or circumstances, past or present, or that could arise in the foreseeable future, that might call in to question that person’s independence in the eyes of one or both of the parties in the administrative proceeding. Panel members are also required by WIPO Rules to sign a “Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence”. The prospective panellists are asked to take into consideration before signing the declaration whether “there exists any past or present relationship, direct or indirect, with either of the parties, whether financial, professional or of another kind and whether the nature of any such relationship is such that disclosure is called for. [Any doubt should be resolved in favor of disclosure].”
The panellists have to tick one of the options below: -
[ ] I am independent of each of the parties. To the best of my knowledge and belief, there are no facts or circumstances, past or present, or that could arise in the foreseeable future, that need be disclosed as they might be of a such a nature as to call in to question my independence in the eyes of one or both of the parties.
[ ] I am independent of each of the parties. However, I wish to disclose the circumstances described in the attachment hereto (attach separate sheet) as they might be of such a nature as to call in to question my independence in the eyes of one or both of the parties.
Immediately prior to the Shell Smart trial Mr Justice Laddie disclosed to my son and I that he was a participant in the Shell Smart loyalty card scheme. That was the only disclosure made by the Judge and we did not consider it to be a problem.
However, due to blatant bias displayed by the Judge on the day the trial concluded (on the basis on a secret settlement) and also because of his conduct in the latter stages of the trial, I subsequently investigated the background circumstances of the Judge and made some startling discoveries.
As a result, I asked him through his Clerk, Mr Peter Smith, whether he had an undisclosed professional relationship or association with the barrister son of the then Shell Group Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. Mr Justice Laddie declined to comment (as did Mr Tom Moody-Stuart). The Moody-Stuart family was intimately involved in the Smart case. I supplied to the Judge (via Shell’s solicitors) soon after the trial commenced, a copy of an extraordinary letter I received from Lady Judy Moody Stuart, Sir Marks wife and the mother of Tom Moody-Stuart. Consequently the Judge was well aware of the Moody-Stuart families’ involvement in the case.
Apart from the Moody-Stuart connection, I also wish to know whether at the time of the Trial, Mr Justice Laddie was a Council Member of The Foundation for Science & Technology alongside Shell Director Lord Oxburgh (currently Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading Company plc.
Why should the issue of impartiality of the adjudicator/Judge be of any less significance in a High Court trial than in a domain name dispute? The reverse should be the case.
If an individual is up against a multinational giant and has put EVERYTHING he or she owns into prosecuting a claim, in the expectation of receiving a fair trial, it is a gut-churning experience when the trial turns out to be an absolute travesty of justice, with a biased Judge presiding. The whole farcical trial was tainted by deplorable tactics by Shell, including its admitted use of uncover activity which intimidated witnesses. To cap it all, Mr Justice Laddie inexplicably made blatantly biased concluding comments, even though the case was settled on the basis of being a "stalemate" - the publicly proclaimed result, with Shell secretly paying all legal costs and my son receiving a payment. Even Mr Justice Laddie was not informed of the true basis of settlement until after the trial had ended. The settlement had been agreed by my son under duress in highly dubious circumstances. Personally, I am glad under the circumstances that this particular Judge has resigned.
Daily Telegraph Article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mrjusticeladdie.resigns
Scotsman Article: http://news.scotsman.com/mrJusticeLaddie
The Lawyer Article: http://www.thelawyer.com/mrjusticeladdieresigns
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