Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Pill honoured as Fellow
14 July 2011
The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Pill, a key figure in the UK legal sector is today awarded with an Honorary Fellowship of Aberystwyth University.
Sir Malcolm Thomas Pill has had a distinguished career in the practice of the law as Counsel and Queen’s Counsel and in the administration of justice as Recorder, Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division and as a Lord Justice of Appeal. He is the longest-serving Long Justice of Appeal, and the most senior member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. His very distinguished career as counsel and judge was centered on Wales and more particularly Cardiff where he practised as counsel and sat as Recorder and judge until his elevation to the Court of Appeal in 1995.
He also became 3rd Secretary at the Foreign Office and spent a period in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He was chairman of the Welsh Centre of the United Nations Association Trust and later became chairman of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and for a period of some nine years he was the chairman of the United Kingdom Committee of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Pill will be presented by Winston Roddick QC, Vice President of Aberystwyth University.
He is one of seven Fellows to be honoured by Aberystwyth University during the 2011 Graduation Ceremonies which take place on 12, 13, 14 and 15 July.
Presentation of Sir Malcolm Thomas Pill as Fellow of Aberystwyth University by Mr Winston Roddick QC, Vice President of Aberystwyth University.
Is Ganghellor, Vice Chancellor
It is my pleasure and honour to present Sir Malcolm Thomas Pill for investiture as an Honorary Fellow of this University.
Honorary Fellowships are awarded to those former students of the University who have distinguished themselves since graduating and to Welsh men and women with a National or international reputation; individuals who have made a significant contribution to Wales or the wider world.
Sir Malcolm has had a distinguished career in the practice of the law as counsel and Queen’s Counsel and in the administration of justice as Recorder, Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division and as a Lord Justice of Appeal.
He was called to the Bar (Gray's Inn) in 1962, and was a Recorder o the Crown Court from 1976 to 1987. He became a Queen's Counsel in 1978, and was appointed a High Court Judge (Queen's Bench Division) and awarded a knighthood in 1988, and served until 1995 in that division of the High Court. From 1989 to 1993, as Mr. Justice Pill, he was Presiding Judge of this circuit, then known as the Wales and Chester Circuit. In 1995, he became Lord Justice of Appeal and a member of the Privy Council. He is the longest-serving Lord Justice of Appeal, and the most senior member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.
His very distinguished career as counsel and judge was centered on Wales and more particularly Cardiff where he practised as counsel and sat as Recorder and judge until his elevation to the Court of Appeal in 1995. No one knew our circuit better or was more worthy of it and certainly no other holder of the position of Senior Presiding Judge took greater pride in the fact that he was the holder of that position on a circuit which regards him as one of its very own.
From that brief summary of his early life and career as a barrister you will have learnt that Malcolm Pill was born into a Cardiff family. The Pills came from Cornwall to work in the Cardiff Docks in the 1860s and they settled in Grangetown where they became members of the Clive Street Baptist Chapel. Sir Malcolm’s father became a barrister’s clerk in Park Place Cardiff from where Sir Malcolm himself later practised as a barrister and how proud his father would have been to know that his son had achieved so distinguished a career in the law both as a barrister and judge.
He was educated at what was then the well-renowned state grammar school Whitchurch Grammar School, situated on Penlline Road, Whitchurch, another famous alumnus of which is Rhodri Morgan, the former First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government. From Whitchurch Grammar school he won a place at Trinity College, Cambridge from which he graduated as an MA and later as Master of Laws
I would not wish you to get the impression from my narrative so far that this has been a career based only on the courts. Lord Denning said of the practise of the law that it sharpens the mind but like a pencil sharpener when sharpening a pencil, it also narrows it. After Cambridge, Sir Malcolm went on to The Hague where he gained the Diploma of the Hague Academy of International Law. He later became 3rd Secretary at the Foreign Office and spent a period in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He became chairman of the Welsh Centre of the United Nations Association Trust and later became chairman of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and for a period of some nine years he was the chairman of the United Kingdom Committee of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign.
Sir Malcolm Pill is therefore much more than a lawyer and a judge; he is an internationalist with a deep sense of caring. The practice of the law might well have sharpened his mind but it did not narrow it. He took with him to the bench as a judge that intuitive understanding of the various conditions of and circumstances in which people live and endure.
A judge of his time
Wales’ constitutional landscape has changed radically since 1998 and although the administration of justice is not a devolved responsibility, the impact of devolution on the administration of justice in Wales has been remarkable. Our judges do not and cannot engage in political matters but that does not mean they will not wish to influence how our unitary system of justice is administered within the devolved state.
When I became Counsel General, I knew that many of the skills and many of the lessons the then new Assembly needed to master would need to be learned through observation of other jurisdictions. Lord Justice Pill’s international outlook and his experience and knowledge of the institutions of Europe and how justice is administered in other European jurisdictions as well as his position on the recently formed Council of the Judges of Wales is proving to be invaluable in these post-devolution days. He is proving to be the right person in the right place at the right time in that he understands the nature and significance of the constitutional changes and of how the administration of justice in Wales needs to reflect these and can reflect them without diluting its independence or that of the judiciary from the Welsh Government. His address to the 2009 Legal Wales Conference in Cardiff will, in my view, prove to be seminal in its effect on the administration of justice in Wales as it evolves and develops side by side and in step with devolution. The essence of Sir Malcolm Pill can be summarised in ten words - a Welshman, an internationalist and a judge of his time.
Conferring an Honorary Fellowship is a two-way process. The University, by conferring the title of Hon Fellow confers honour on and brings recognition to the worthy recipient and the recipient confers honour on the University by becoming associated with it as Fellow. I have no doubt that Sir Malcolm Pill and the members of his family who are present will feel a great sense of honour and satisfaction at his being made a fellow of the University of Aberystwyth and we for our part feel immensely honoured by his association with us. This place has a long history and in that time great men and great women have become associated with it through Fellowship. Today, the quality of that list is enhanced by the name Malcolm Thomas Pill
Vice Chancellor, it is an honour and a privilege to introduce Sir Malcolm Pill for investiture as an Honorary Fellow of the University. Is-Ganghellor, mae’n fraint ac yn anrhydedd i gyflwyno Syr Malcolm Pill i’w urddo yn gymrawd Prifysgol Aberystwyth er anrhydedd.
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