Monday, 30 November 2009

Bankruptcy and Debt as the subject matter of song

Last week I blogged on bankruptcy as it has featured in games (with particular reference to monopoly). During an idle moment (whilst listening to ITunes) I began thinking about other unlikely contexts for our subject. As I was listening to some music the medium of song immediately sprang to mind. Many subjects have received musical treatment, i.e: the subject of unrequited love (U2's 'All I Want is You' hero pictured); ghosts; drugs; shipping; piers; unjust causes; travel; sisters; working hard; tummy ache; relationships; prison; pets; older women; rugby, soldiers; and such like. But what about bankruptcy and debt?

The subject of bankruptcy has received some musical treatment. Dr Hook released an album called 'Bankrupt' There are no songs about bankruptcy however on the album. Ryan Stiles' performance in Drew Carey's Bankruptcy Song is particularly amusing. The subject of debt has also received some musical treatment. Pina's Debt Song is a very good example of this. The Muppets have addressed the opposite end of the spectrum. See Dr Teeth's (the greenback collectors) song 'Money'. Debt has been addressed in song by Monty Python ('Its accountancy that makes the world go round') and Pink Floyd.

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Yet more insolvency coverage in the Eye! See: Issue: 1250, 27 November 2009, at page 29

It is starting to become somewhat of a feature (see here and here for previous examples). You guessed it (or read it in the title to this blog) the subject of corporate insolvency has featured in Private Eye again (See: Issue: 1250, 27 November 2009, at page 29). The piece touches on the OFT investigation, indeed it claims credit for the Eye for instigating the investigation. The article notes the "scandalous corporate insolvency industry...[and] the insolvency gravy train...whereby the practitioners get the pounds and the creditors get the pence" (according to Mr David Taylor MP).

The IPA, R3, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insolvency, and other interested parties must urgently come up with some solid statistical work to show how value is saved and protected in viable businesses if these sorts of attacks on the present system are to be successfully rebutted.

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Friday, 27 November 2009

Borders as the latest casualty of High Street woe - go and buy a book!

Borders, the book store, has gone into administration. This has been picked up by The Telegraph, amongst others. It is of course a crashing shame when any business encounters difficulty, but with a book shop the effect is even worse as it must indicate that books are being shunned in this credit crunch environment. Don't delay get to Borders today and buy a book!

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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Purposes of Administration Considered - BLV Realty Organization Ltd & Anor v Batten & Ors [2009] EWHC 2994 (Ch)

"The purposes of an administration are stated in paragraph 3 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986. They form a hierarchy. The administrators must perform their obligations with the objective (first) of rescuing the company as a going concern (paragraph 3(1)(a)): but if it is not reasonably practical to achieve that objective (or that objective would not achieve the best result for the creditors as a whole), then (second) with the objective of achieving a better result for the company's creditors as a whole than if the company were immediately wound up (paragraph 3(1)(b)). Whilst pursuing either of these objectives the administrators must perform their functions in the interests of the company's creditors as a whole. If the administrators form the view that it is not reasonably practicable to achieve either of those objectives then (third) they may seek simply to realise property in order to make a distribution to one or more secured creditors, but only if by so doing they do not unnecessarily harm the interests of the creditors of the company as a whole (paragraph 3(1)(c)). (Leading Counsel for BLV submitted that this hierarchy reflected scenarios in which the unsecured creditors would receive 100p in the £1, in which they would receive a dividend, and in which they would receive nothing. But I do not agree.)... administration is a form of class remedy. The obligation of the administrators is to perform their functions in the interests of "the creditors as a whole". That does not mean that the obligation falls to be performed in an identical way in relation to each and every constituent of the class. It may be in the interests of the creditors as a whole that one particular contract with one particular creditor is terminated (even wrongfully): for example if the administrators thought that a particular service could be provided more cheaply or to a higher standard than was currently being done by a creditor with a continuing contract for a service necessary to the ongoing trading, with a beneficial result to the creditors as such. Or it may be that whilst in general ongoing contracts with creditors were being terminated (even wrongfully), one particular contract (e.g. to maintain the principal asset) was kept in being, with a beneficial result to the creditors as such. It would in each case be the interests of the creditors as a whole that would have to prevail over the particular interest of individual creditors: and that might result in different treatment. In the instant case, the administrators think that BLV is doing a less satisfactory job than other team members and that the other team members do not have confidence in BLV. That perception is not without foundation. What the administrators decide to do about it is a matter of commercial judgment. They have decided to terminate the relationship. The different treatment of BLV is not a breach of the obligation to the creditors as a whole."
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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Bill 2009

The Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Bill 2009 has been issued. The bill amends the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 as regards the grounds on which a debtor may apply for sequestration, the types of voluntary trust deed to which the Act applies, the sale or disposal of a debtor’s family home and requirements to publish notices about sequestration in the Edinburgh Gazette.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Bankruptcy and Constructive Trusts - Re Sharpe [1980] 1 WLR 219

Last week we briefly examined bankruptcy and resulting trusts. This week we can turn our attention to bankruptcy and constructive trusts and the judgment of Mr Justice Browne-Wilkinson (pictured right - later Lord Browne-Wilkinson) in Re Sharpe [1980] 1 WLR 219, a case which involved an Aunt going the extra mile for her bankrupt nephew and a battle for value between three nephews including the bankrupt nephew.

The facts of the case, as stated in the Official Law Reports, were as follows. On April 27, 1978, a receiving order was made against a bankrupt. He and his wife and his aunt, aged 82, were living together in a maisonette, which with a shop formed leasehold premises purchased by the bankrupt in 1975 for £17,000. The aunt had provided £12,000 of the purchase price, the remainder having been raised on mortgage. In providing the money, the aunt had been told according to her affidavit evidence, that she would be able to stay in the premises for as long as she liked, and that she would be looked after by the bankrupt and his wife.

The aunt had also paid some £2,271.16 for decorations and fittings for the property. She also paid some £9,000 in an attempt to stave off the bankrupt's bankruptcy. In September 1975 on the advice of her solicitor, the aunt got from the bankrupt a promissory note for £15,700, the reason being that by her will she had left her estate to her three nephews equally, and she felt that it would be unfair if the bankrupt were to take one third of what remained without bringing into account what he had already received.

The trustee in bankruptcy took steps to find out what rights, if any, the aunt claimed arising out of the provision by her of £12,000 towards the purchase price but the aunt did not reply to his letters. On April 30, 1979, the trustee in bankruptcy contracted to sell the premises to a purchaser for £17,000 with vacant possession, completion being fixed for May 29, 1979. After the date of the contract, the aunt, for the first time put forward a claim to an interest in the premises.

Brown Wilkinson, J held that there was no Resulting Trust and that the aunt had provided the £12,000 by way of loan and not as a gift and, accordingly, no interest in her favour was created under a resulting trust but since it was an essential feature of the loan that the aunt was to make her home in the premises to be acquired with the money lent, she had, as against the bankrupt, the right to occupy the premises for as long as she liked while the loan remained unrepaid, but that the aunt's right of occupation did confer some interest in the property under a constructive trust and that, since in the circumstances she was not barred from asserting her right by reason of any laches or acquiescence on her part, the trustee in bankruptcy took the property subject to her right and, accordingly, he was not entitled to an order for possession.

As Oakley has noted in his seminal book on the subject: “The interest of a beneficiary under a constructive trust is binding on the trustee in bankruptcy of the constructive trustee and take priority over the claims of his general creditors.” (Oakley, A. Parker & Mellows: The Modern Law of Trusts. 9th Edition. Sweet & Maxwell, London, 2008).

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Monday, 23 November 2009

Bankruptcy in the game of Monopoly - the subject as leisure

Whilst playing Monoploy on the Nintendo Wii with my five year old goddaughter on Saturday (I had just lost to her on MarioKart; as a four year old she beat me at Tiger Woods golf as well, all very embarassing) I under bid her in an auction for Bond Street which eventually exhausted all her funds. She was given the option of 'Filing for Bankruptcy' by the computer version of the game. The game is made by Hasbro, an American company, which can trace its early beginnings to Providence, Rhode Island. This might explain the language use. Petitioning for bankruptcy in this context might not sound that attractive to the gaming public!

My five year old monopoly opponent chose the bankruptcy option and I won the game. I am still of course two/one down in the gaming stakes, but you have to take your victories where you can. There was no mention of a discharge so she is still a Monopoly bankrupt. This was an interesting example of the legal state of bankruptcy featuring in games. The non-electronic version of Monopoly has a bankruptcy rule. The rules note: "If you ever owe the Bank or another player more cash than you have, try to raise the money by selling buildings and/or mortgaging properties [or by stealing it from the bank whilst the banker is distracted, or embezzling it from the bank if you are the banker! - my own rule] If you still owe more than you have, you are BANKRUPT and out of the game!"

I have an American playing card game called "Bankruptcy" which involves bull and bear market cards. It is quite fun, more fun than getting beaten by a five year old at MarioKart! She must have cheated.

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Friday, 20 November 2009

KPMG scoop Accountancy Age Business Recovery Assignment of the Year Award

My lectureship sponsors, KPMG LLP, have scooped the Accountancy Age Business Recovery Assignment of the Year Award for their work on the JJB CVA. This is the second restructuring award for KPMG. The judges highlighted the complexity of the task involved, and the use of great innovation by KPMG.

This award comes at a time when CVAs are expected to become far more commonplace. For a discussion of this and further analysis of CVAs see two KPMG 'Thought Leadership' inspired articles on the subject of CVAs see here and here.

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

The vexed subject of pre-packs

I apologize for the long week and the consequential delay to this post. We have been in the midst of an injunction. That is the same as journalists saying they are "on a deadline". They are both annoying phrases but they do unfortunately both mean the same - that you concentrate on one thing alone particularly when, in our case, we are to seek to discharge it on the back of material non disclosure and a lack of full and frank disclosure to the Court. It promises to be an interesting discharge application and there may be some red, or crimson, faces on one side of the Court, and a Judge who may be a darker shade. Judges do not like being misled on without notice hearings.

Back to the matter in hand. Love 'em or hate 'em, pre-packaged administrations are a regular diet to the insolvency teams around the country. They create a mixed reaction depending on whether you act for the IP, the Newco, the directors or the creditors. But one class of foot soldier invariably has a similar viewpoint, and that is the shareholder. Invariably he is looking at a position where his entire holding has been wiped out and there is little he can do about it. Now the shareholder's place is low indeed when it comes to insolvency priorities, and we all know that duties of IPs' are owed to creditors, and their reports are for their eyes only, but of course those reports do end up being filed at Companies House. And shareholders read them. Often disgruntled shareholders. There is seemingly little than an individual shareholder can really do other than become more disillusioned with the process when he's soaked it all in. The legislation certainly does not appear to assist him (note The Times headline - Shareholders face wipeout after Regent Inns goes into pre-pack - here)

When you act for an institutional shareholder as we do, however, who has invested many millions into a company and who has a grievance (no relation to the above), does the position change? Can, for example, the shareholder glean anything from the fact that reports have been submitted to the Disqualification Unit - knowing, of course, that office holders have a duty to report if they become aware of conduct that warrants or could give rise to disqualification proceedings. We know from the Insolvency Service that there is no initial evidence that the level of director misconduct in pre-packs (at least those reported under SIP 16, the key statement of best practice re pre-packs) is any greater than overall level of misconduct reported by IPs generally. And disqualification proceedings do not, in themselves, lead to any recovery for shareholders. The best they do is create an evidential trail and a correct context for shareholder action.

But what action? And against whom? The shareholder's primary recourse is to get out his bedside copy of the Insolvency Act and look at Sch B1, para 74 and consider whether he can show that the administrator is acting or has acted so as unfairly to harm his interests (whether alone or in common with some or all other members or creditors).

The question is how many shareholders are going to be able to show that prejudice, and how many shareholders have the stomach for the fight, and how many have followed the progress of minority shareholder actions - that have similar concepts - and have lived to tell the tale and want to press on. My experience is not many. Actually I change that - my experience is none. It will be rare indeed for a shareholder to be able to meet the high standard of this section, faced with an administrator who is seeking to act in the best interests of creditors. If he can do that, can he pay the costs?

There may well be a conflict between creditor and shareholder, but the administrator is not going to be criticized without good reason. See the judgment of Mummery LJ in a case styled Four Private Investment Funds [2009] EWCA Civ 514 and arising out of the Lehman collapse:

“If, as they assert and their evidence strongly suggests, the administrators are seeking in good faith to carry out their functions in the interests of LBIE's creditors and asset claimants (as I shall for want of a better expression describe former clients such as the applicants) as a whole and are endeavouring to avoid being deflected from this course by devoting what they fairly regard as a disproportionate amount of time and resources to dealing with requests for information from a particular group of former clients, such as the applicants, I feel quite unable to conclude that any case of unfair harm is established within the meaning of paragraph 74(1). The material for contending that it is simply not to hand.”

If you do a search for the number of times that the section has been invoked, you get a handful of hits, and none of them concern a shareholder's claim. Now it may well be that you will have a better shot of proving your claim if you can demonstrate that SIP 16 has been ignored, but even non-compliance with SIP 16 does not lead to a presumption of prejudice.

Many times the shareholders' remedies against the administrators are the only claims that can be brought despite the desire to go after the former directors, particularly if they are the new directors of Newco. In our particular case, there is still a way because there was a public prospectus issued and so claims can be made on the basis that shareholders were induced to purchase shares on the back of a false document, but in reality you are then going after the directors' insurance policies and you still face an uphill battle because the administrators have all the documents and it is the administrators who really should be taking the initiative. But what administrator will do anything without being paid?

And that leads to the subject of litigation funding, of which more next time.

R3 Annual Parliamentary Reception - The Churchill Room and Debtor Education

I attended the R3 (Association of Business Recovery Professionals) Annual Parliamentary Reception on Wednesday evening (18 November 2009) at the Palace of Westminster. It was a very interesting and informative event. The reception was held in the Churchill Room, a magnificent space dedicated to the memory of Sir Winston Churchill, the scion of the great Spencer/ Churchill/Marlborough dynasty. Some of the war time leader's (or Duke that never was!) paintings were hanging on the walls of the room (sample pictured right). There was also access to the Peers' Terrace which afforded magnificent views over the Thames and along Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860) and his assistant Augustus Welby Pugin's (1812-52) magnificent building.

There was a good mix of interested parties at the event including members of the judiciary, solicitors, insolvency practitioners (IPs), Members of Parliament (including, inter alia, Mr Keith Vaz MP and Mr Paul Keetch MP), as well as two academics (myself and Dr Sandra Frisby). There may have also been some barristers, but I did not speak to any.

The President's speech was most informative about the work of R3 going forward. It was not quite as wide ranging as the Queen's Speech which had taken place in the same building some hours earlier. Mr Sargent mentioned a number of initiatives that R3 have in mind. I was most interested in his comments on debtor education and the increasing role of IPs in the area. Their philanthropic work in this important area is to be applauded. I am glad my commissioned research by the Insolvency Service (see here and here) and published articles in Insolvency Intelligence on the subject of debtor education (see here and here) have been read by someone! It is indeed a laudable aim that R3 are increasing the participation of IPs in debtor education. As the President pointed out - who else is better placed to pass on knowledge regarding financial awareness and the pitfalls of insolvency than IPs!

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Professor David Graham QC's thoughts on the recent calls for reform of English insolvency law - a time for moderate reflection?

Professor David Graham QC notes:

"There has been a lot of press comment recently on the efficacy of the English and Welsh corporate insolvency legislation, particularly in light of the OFT's recent announcement that they are to conduct an investigation into corporate insolvency proceedings. Articles have appeared in, inter alia, The Times, The Telegraph, and Private Eye. It is perhaps not surprising that the practice of insolvency draws complaints, especially when what in essence we are discussing is profiting from insolvent estates. The layman, perhaps unsurprisingly, does not readily comprehend how this is achieved.

The insolvency industry comprises no less than eight Recognised Professional Bodies (RPBs for short but there are at least eight other acronyms), each with its own complaints procedure (See Professor Walter's work on this area here). The need for a comprehensive industry wide grievance mechanism was already recognised when the major insolvency reforms were introduced in 1986; despite the identification of the need for such a mechanism nothing has yet been done to address the issue; of course the magnitude of the problem having regard to the phenomenal growth in insolvency work in the intervening years, is more acute than ever. Parliament should give consideration to the establishment of an independent Insolvency Ombudsman Scheme (IOBS).

A recent publication by the British and Irish Ombudsman Association (BIOA) has much to teach the profession in terms of a sound approach to governance. BIOA outline six principles that provide a bedrock for principles of good corporate governance:
  • Independence
  • Openness and transparency
  • Accountability
  • Integrity
  • Clarity and purpose
  • Effectiveness
Bearing in mind the first principle, independence, there is perhaps something for Insolvency Practitioners (IPs) to learn from lawyers. The Law Society and the Bar Council have both recently fractured out their respective regulatory functions in relation to solicitors and barristers. Solicitors are now regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). Barristers are regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB). The Law Society and Bar Council now perform a function which reverts to their original nature, i.e. a collegiate organisation that represents members interests, much like the Association of Business Recovery Professionals (R3) in the insolvency world.

Surely the time has come to rationalise the insolvency complaints system so as to provide a clear and effective remedy for aggrieved parties (see. s.81 Bankruptcy Act 1914) including but by no means limited to, creditors, shareholders, and former officers.

Rather than have eight separate insolvency acronyms, consideration should be given to a new comprehensive body which could appropriately be named: Latest Insolvency Modernisation Brainstorm - Ombudsman (LIMBO)! We would welcome further less cumbersome suggestions!

In defence of the status quo

There are two sides to every coin. In the context of insolvency at least two things should be borne in mind in this regard. First, in many corporate insolvencies the directors are instrumental in appointing the IP officeholders. It seems strange for directors to then turnaround and carp about the way in which the IP they appointed has acted. It is perhaps because so often the dividends available for creditors are so poultry, perhaps even derisory, that creditors are all to frequently apathetic and wash their hands of the matter. Serious work needs to be done by the profession to demonstrate how their work produces realistic value for creditors in the light of published or other statistics.

If you were a creditor of Farepak, or any other similar species of company, you might wander what is going on. A similar story arose in the case of the XL administration (see DG's letter in The Times here and a response from Mr David Kerr of the IPA here - See DG's other Times letter expressing similar sentiments on the personal side of the subject here). Whatever the climate may have been in September 2008 at the time of the collapse of XL regarding the need for a comprehensive review of insolvency law the situation has been overtaken by events as indicated by the OFT's investigation referred to above."

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Law and "Royal and Ancient" Kingston upon Thames throughout history - a special place in the legal world!

I have discussed the relationship between the bankruptcy jurisdiction and the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames on this blog before (see here and here). I thought it might be interesting to explore other general links between the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames and the world of law, particularly as I teach and research at Kingston Law School. I hope all Kingstonians, both residents and students, find the following of interest!

It might first be appropriate to outline a brief history of Kingston-upon-Thames. It was not always known by that name. It was first called Moreford - the Great Ford. Moreford was the first Saxon town erected in England. Following a destructive and ruinous raid by the Danes the town arose again, renamed as Kingston. In the year 838 the town was referred to as, "that famous place called Kingston" during a council of King Egbert. Kingston was named after King Egbert as the land upon which it sits was originally his land or ton.

His son, King Athelstane, gave Kingston its Royal town status. This was confirmed by King George V in 1927. Seven Saxon Kings were crowned in the town. They were: King Edward, son of Alfred who was crowned in Kingston-upon-Thames in 899. His son King Athelsane followed in 924, then his brother King Edmund in 939, then his brother King Edred in 946, then his son King Edwy in 955 and then his brother King Edgar in 973. King Edgar was crowned King of all England in Bath Abbey in 973. The last King to be crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames appears to have been Edward the Martyr in AD 975. Kingston-upon-Thames was therefore the Coronation town between 899 and 975. Some commentators think that earlier Saxon kings may also have been crowned in Kingston, i.e. Ethelwulf (839), Ethelbald (855), Ethelbert (858) and Ethelred (866). The Doomsday book of 1086 notes Kingston as having: five mills, a church, three fisheries, four thousand acres.

The first Royal Charter was granted to the town by King John in 1199. A second followed in 1208. Twenty Six Royal charters have followed, including one for the Grammar School (1561 - there is documentary evidence to suggest that the school has been in existence sine 1264) and one for the University. 1899 marks the opening of what is now the University, but the University Charter was granted in 1992. Dr Leonard Lawley, the first director of what was then the Polytechnic, thought it should have come earlier, i.e. in 1966. The History of the University (cited below) records: "the institution was bitterly disappointed when it learnt in 1966 that Battersea College of Technology [now Surrey University] rather than itself was to become a university. `We did think’, Dr Lawley told the newspapers, `we might be one of those colleges mentioned in the Robbins Report that would become universities, but 20 or 30 others probably thought the same’ [e.g. The Borough News, 7 January 1966]."

Back to the Royal Borough. By a charter of Henry VI, 14 March 1441 the Bailiffs and Freemen of Kingston were given the right to have a Common Seal. This was confirmed by a charter of Charles I on the 13th December 1629. Kingston was granted the right to use arms in 1572, the year after the second bankruptcy statute (An Act Touching Orders For Bankrupts 1571 (Stat 13 Eliz I, c.7)). The extinct Dukedom of Kingston relates to Kingston-upon-Hull. The first duke was Evelyn Pierrepont (1667-1726) who was created in that style on the 10 August 1715.

There are three main subjects which link Kingston-upon-Thames and the law, namely: (1) The Office of Recordership of Kingston-upon-Thames, (2) the Courts of Law in Kingston-upon-Thames, (3) and Kingston Law School (KLS), at Kingston University. These will now be considered seriatim:

(1) The Office of Recorder of the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames
Kingston-upon-Thames has a unique honour in being the only Borough in England that has the power to appoint its own High Steward and Recorder. The office of Recorder of the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames, an unpaid post, was created by King James I in 1603 and has been held as an honorific, titular title by the Attorney-General of England and Wales ever since. The post is perhaps not as famous as the Recorder of London or the Common Serjeant of London, but it is still nevertheless a very prestigious office. Past incumbents of the Kingston-upon-Thames Recordership have included numerous Attorney-Generals over the last 406 years. Officeholders have included:
  • Sir Anthony Benn (1569/70-1618) - lawyer and judge - Recorder of Kingston-upon-Thames: appointed 1610. He is buried in All Saints' parish church, Kingston. There is a monument erected in his memory which depicts him in his lawyers' robes.
  • Sir Edward Thurland (1607-1683) - lawyer and politician - Recorder of Kingston-upon-Thames (and Reigate and Guildford): appointed to all three in 1661.
  • Sir Francis Wythens (c.1635-1704) - judge and politician - Recorder of Kingston-upon-Thames: November 1685.
  • Sir Horace Edmund Avory KC (1851-1935) - judge - Recorder of Kingston-upon-Thames: appointed 1902.
  • Lord Somervell of Harrow OBE, QC - Politician and judge - Recorder of Kingston-upon-Thames: 1940-1945.
  • Lord Shawcross QC - Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, Barrister and Politician - Recorder of Kingston-upon-Thames: 1946 to 1951.
  • Lord Elwyn Jones CH, PC, QC - Lord Chancellor, Nuremberg Prosecutor, author - Recorder of Kingston-upon-Thames: 1968 to 1974.
  • Lord Rawlinson QC - Conservative Attorney-General - Recorder of Kingston upon Thames: 1975 to 2002.
(2) Courts of Law in Kingston-upon-Thames
Save for a number of brief spells when the Surrey Assizes were held elsewhere (i.e. in Guildford, Reigate, Croydon and Southwark) Kingston-upon-Thames played host to the Surrey Assizes from the reign of King John until they were abolished in 1971. Kingston now has a tier one Crown Court (some Kingston Crown Court judges are pictured to the right processing into Kingston Parish Church on the 29 September 2009). A number of interesting cases took place at the Surrey Assizes in Kingston, including:
  • Henry Bickerstaffe (bap. 1606, d. in or after 1661), Digger, who was prosecuted for trespass in Kingston, but then went on to become keeper of the town gaol!
  • Elizabeth Billington [née Weichsel], (1765–1818), singer, who as a 12 year old accused her godfather, the violinist Joseph Agus (1749–1798), of attempted rape. He was convicted at Kingston Assize on the 19 March 1778.
  • Frederick Calvert, sixth Baron Baltimore (1732–1771), author and libertine. In 1768 he was charged with raping Sarah Woodcock, a London milliner, at his country house at Epsom. He was tried at Kingston assizes on 26 March 1768.
In more recent times many famous and infamous trials have taken place in Kingston Crown Court including: the recent prosecutions against alleged 7/7 conspirators, alleged rapes in celebrity nightclubs, sexual assault by a nurse of a psychiatric patient, alleged theft from the Queen's composer, and many, many more. Kingston Crown Court also served as an inspiration for BBC One's Garrow Law.

There is also a County Court (which has a Bankruptcy jurisdiction) and a Magistrates Court in Kingston.

(3) Kingston Law School (KLS) - Illustrious speakers at KLS through the ages and some notable alumni
Law has been taught in what is now the University since the 1940s. There has been a Law School in Kingston since the early 1960s. A dedicated law library was opened in 1968. Teaching was originally based at Penryn road, but in 1979 the School of Law was moved to our current location, i.e. the refurbished Coach House on the Kingston Hill campus. One early head of school went on to take silk (Joe Harper QC). Teaching delivery now includes the LL.B., LL.M. and Ph.D. degrees as well as the PG Diploma in Law (peviously the GDL). Over 2,755 law students have passed through the doors of KLS over the last forty years.

There is a vibrant research culture at KLS. Commissioned research has been undertaken for numerous Government departments (BIS, Ministry of Justice) and articles written by members of KLS frequently appear in REF 4 standard journals (i.e. Modern Law Review, Journal of Business Law, Cambridge Law Journal, etc). A number of leading textbooks are produced at the School, including five Oxford University Press (OUP) textbooks (see: Darbyshire on the English Legal System (Sweet & Maxwell (S&M)), Bermingham on Tort (OUP), Durston on Evidence (OUP), Humphreys on European Law (OUP), Pitt on Employment Law (S&M), Broadbent on Public Law (OUP) and Broadbent on Social Work Law (OUP), Allen on Business Law (Pearson), Tolmie on Insolvency Law (Cavendish), Youngs on Comparative Law (Cavendish), Jeanpierre on French Law (Pearson)). Learned monographs have also been published by Fionda (Youth Justice (Hart) and Public Prosecutions (OUP)) and Durston (four monographs on 18th Century Criminal Law).

There have been numerous illustrious speakers who have visited the School since its foundation. These have included a Lord Chancellor, a Vice-Chancellor and two Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (now Supreme Court Justices) as well as a Chief Justice of Sierra Leone (Justice Gelaga King). The Lord Goff of Chieveley, the Lord Slynn of Hadley, the Viscount Hailsham of St Marylebone LC, Sir Robert Megarry V-C, and the Lord Borrie have all delivered lectures at KLS (pictures forthcoming!). Famous practitioners have also delivered lectures at KLS including: Professor David Graham QC, Professor Monty Raphael, Christine Laing QC, and others. Members of Parliament have spoken at the School, including Mr Edward Davey MP and Dr Jenny Tonge MP. Mr Zac Goldsmith MP has also been a recent visitor.

Notable Alumni and LLD recipients
KLS has had its fair share of illustrious alumni throughout the years. There are hundreds of practicing solicitors and barristers now in firms and chambers across the world who received their initial legal education at KLS. A number enjoyed the experience so much that they went into academia! Academics who studied at KLS include:
Here follows a small sample of leading practitioners who also received their law degrees from KLS. These include:
A number of KLS graduates have gone on to the bench, including:
  • His Honour Judge Ebraham Mooncey, Circuit Judge, Lincoln Crown Court,
  • District Judge Kevin Gray,
  • Justice Rita Joseph-Olivetti, High Court Judge in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court,
  • District Judge Maureen Read,
  • Mr Recorder John Ryder, also of 6 King's Bench Walk.
Other illustrious KLS graduates include:
Recipients of KLS honorary Doctorates of Law (LL.D) have included:
For over 800 years Kingston-upon-Thames has played a key role in the administration of justice. For over 40 years KLS has played a not insubstantial role in teaching the practitioners of tomorrow. Long may both activities continue!

Further Reading
For a brief but relatively thorough history of Kingston upon Thames see: Forsdike, AW & Knowlden, AG. The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames: A Survey of the Royal Borough and its Amenities. Published at the Guildhall, Kingston upon Thames, 1938. For a history of Kingston University see: A History of Kingston University by Professor Michael Gibson. For further information on local history in and around Kingston see Kingston University's Centre for Local History Studies website.

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