LAWYER OF THE WEEK
Robert Griffiths, QC, of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, acted for Darrell Hair, the Australian umpire who claimed racial discrimination and racial harassment by the International Cricket Council. After a six-day employment tribunal hearing, Hair agreed not to pursue his claims in return for the ICC’s agreement to consider his return to top-flight umpiring after a programme of rehabilitation.
What were the main challenges in this case and the possible implications?
“To get Darrell on the road back to umpiring at Test level and to uphold the principle that the umpire is the sole judge of fair and unfair play.”
What was your worst day as a lawyer?
“Being physically assaulted in front of a High Court judge. My opponent, a litigant in person, purported to make a citizen’s arrest for my delivering submissions contrary to his case and that he characterised as an act of “high treason” (for further details see “Advocates” by David Pannick).”
What was your most memorable experience as a lawyer?
“Appearing for the first time before Lord Denning in the Court of Appeal when three years call tops the lot. It involved bankruptcy law, an area about which I knew (and know) nothing. I was not aware when settling the Notice of Appeal in a hurry one Friday afternoon that it went straight to the Court of Appeal from the decision of the Deputy District Registrar. It took two days to argue. I won. The opening words of the great man’s judgement were “Bankruptcy is a specialist subject”. Little did he know who was appearing before him.”
Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?
“My wife, Angela, a solicitor and former partner of a City law firm, and my children Anna, Helena and Charlie who combine forces to make sure I don’t take myself too seriously. My mother and late father, Oxford and during my early years at the Bar; my pupilmaster, Gary Flather, QC; my law tutor at Oxford, Jeffrey Hackney; and my English teacher at Haverfordwest Grammar School, Philip Getvoldsen.”
Why did you become a lawyer?
“I get pleasure from argument and debate and wanted to work in a competitive and rewarding environment. I also knew I would not make it as a professional cricketer.”
What would your advice be to anyone wanting a career in law?
“Be prepared to have to work hard, but do not take yourself too seriously; do not envy the success of others. Try to keep a balance between career and family life and continue to enjoy and cultivate your interests outside the law.”
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
“Still working, trying to complete my book on the philosophy of sport, watching cricket and rugby and drinking wine. In other words, I don’t anticipate any change.