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Londoner Philip Havers is the fourth generation of his family to be in the law. His great-grandfather was a solicitor in Norwich, England, his grandfather, Sir Cecil Havers, was a barrister and High Court judge, his father, Sir Michael Havers and later Lord Havers of St. Edmundsbury, was a barrister, Attorney General and briefly Lord Chancellor. His aunt, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, is the current President of the Family Division of the High Court. Despite this distinguished legal background, Havers had no burning desire to follow the family tradition and was put under no pressure from his father. At Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, he read history. “I greatly enjoyed my studies and when looking around for a career, inevitably slipped into the law. In the end, I followed the family tradition, actually being ‘called’ to the Bar by my grandfather.” Havers obtained a pupillage with Harry Woolf, then a Treasury junior, now Lord Woolf and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. “I saw Judicial Review at first hand. It was spell-binding and I was immediately attracted to this area of the law. It is always highly topical and by definition, you get very close to the workings of government. Also — unlike much of the law which rakes over what has happened in the past — you can almost see immediately the product of the work.” After his pupillage, Havers joined One Crown Office Row in 1975 where he has remained ever since, first cutting his teeth in a range of work in the smaller courts. Havers’s practice has always included public law and also — for the last 15 years or so — clinical negligence. He has been doing human rights work for the last ten years. Human rights and public law account for at least half of his practice, clinical negligence approximately 35 percent, with environmental law making up the remainder. Havers also does some media law — such as contempt of court and injunctions against the press. Havers has acted for the E.U. Government in Strasbourg on human rights matters for some time: he is a fan of the new Human Rights Act. “The current legislation is an elegant compromise. It is much better than the previous situation with cases having to go to Strasbourg. This is much neater.” “The present indications are that judges are determined to conclude that English law is compatible with the Convention. They now have some opportunity for input too.” Havers relishes the variety of his work. He says: “The human rights and public law side is exactly what I like. The chambers has a tradition of clinical negligence and I have found this very enjoyable too.” SPYCATCHER The most interesting case with which Havers has been involved has been Spycatcher in 1987. “Although the government lost in that the injunction against Wright was lifted, it did win the ‘war,’ as there were no more books like this.” Other memorable cases were the Clapham Railway Disaster Inquiry in 1991 and in 1998, A-G v. Blake, relating to the fiduciary duties of a spy where he acted for the Attorney-General. Another high point for Havers was calling the distinguished heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub as an expert witness. “The court was packed. He was one of the most charismatic witnesses I have come across. He had an extraordinary combination of authority and great humility.” One of the most disturbing cases Havers remembers was when a mother was refusing to have a Caesarean and the baby was half an hour away from life. The mother still refused and the hospital stepped in with significant legal consequences. Clinical negligence cases raise so many emotions. Havers has huge sympathy for the victims involved. At the same time he has much concern for the doctors involved who must walk the tightrope between working with inevitable risks and dangers and at the same time as trying to exercise great judgment and skill. Havers is enthusiastic about his trips to China to talk about human rights. In 1998 he went for British Law Week and took part in a mock trial with his colleague Robert Seabrook QC, Lord Justice Otton and criminal junior Tracy Ayling and a jury consisting of 12 Chinese professors of law. “There appears to be real interest amongst some Chinese lawyers about human-rights issues and developments. Some of these principles are beginning to seep through and there is hope for the future beyond basic rights.” Havers lectures to doctors and lawyers, regularly addressing seminars on medical negligence, human rights, contempt of court and freedom of the press. He has written and contributed to a number of publications, most recently, “Introduction to Human Rights and the Common Law” of which he is general editor. Havers has been happily married to his wife Patti for 25 years. A former designer, she launched Havers’ Companion to the Bar 10 years ago, following the end of restrictions on advertising. She remains its editor and publisher. The couple have a daughter of 21 and a son of 19, both at Edinburgh University. He believes his daughter may follow him into the law. At prep school Havers dabbled in drama, winning the acting prize. This is something that his younger brother Nigel, a well-known actor, failed to do — perhaps a source of some pride to the older Havers. Havers and his wife have traveled extensively — including a recent camel-trek in Australia. “Much as I like travel we love to come back to London, which is endlessly fascinating.” He spends most weekends in Kent where he indulges his interests of tennis, music, gardening and wine. Having just turned 50, Havers has no particular aspirations for the bench. He is fit and healthy and, as for the future, he is happy for more of the same. “Things have turned out far better than I could have possibly expected. I have challenging, worthwhile work in which I remain very interested. Outside the law I perhaps only hanker after managing an orchestra, or at least being a non-executive director of one.”

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