Simon Goldblatt QC (24 December 1928 – 2 November 2021)

Simon Goldblatt QC (24 December 1928 – 2 November 2021)


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It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death yesterday of Simon Goldblatt QC, at the age of 92.

Simon was born in 1928.  He was called to the Bar in 1953. He joined these chambers soon thereafter. He took silk in 1972 (having effectively been positively invited to do so by the appellate committee of the House of Lords, one of whose members had commented in one case that they “took it most ill that submissions of that calibre come otherwise than from the front bench”).

He was head of these chambers from 1983 until 1986, when John Dyson took over.  He has practised here ever since – subject only, that is, to occasional stints as a Deputy High Court Judge (when he had a tendency to find alternative paths to correct jurisprudence to those presented to him by counsel); and, more regularly than that, to being tempted away for his three great passions: foreign travel; philately; and porcelain.  He was still attending chambers daily, right up to his final decline, a couple of weeks ago.

Simon was a legendary figure here.  He was, notoriously, the cleverest member of chambers that there had ever been; and he was just as well known for his old-fashioned courtesy, which was presented with a tangible twinkle as well as a smile.  In combination, these two qualities – his intelligence and his charm – meant that he was a spirited and highly engaging conversationalist for all around him, whoever they might be.

One (daily) party trick was to do the Times crossword without filling in any of the answers, and then, from memory, to write the whole thing out, including the grid, on a blank piece of paper.   Indeed blank sheets of paper seem to have played a regular part in his demonstrations of prowess: John Dyson told us earlier today of how his intellectual brilliance had always been on display.

“He led Edwin in a case against me in front of John Newey.  The judge asked how long his opening would take.  He replied by showing him and the rest of us a blank piece of paper which he said contained his notes for his opening speech.  He then delivered a brilliant opening (without a note) referring to the key documents, etc.  This was not intended to intimidate (although it did!). He enjoyed his intellectual gifts and wanted to share them with others.”

Among the many, many messages about Simon within chambers today, a prominent theme has been his keenness to help and guide.   Peter Village and I both remember being one of about 5 pupils, all summonsed by Simon, as the then Head of Chambers, to his room every Friday evening at 5pm, so that he could tell us stories of the Bar and give us helpful guidance.  A tricky time of the week to hold your audience, you might have thought, but very generous in spirit of him (as ever), and also always absolutely fascinating (again as ever).  We particularly remember him saying “If you ever leave court thinking Well, I could not have done that any better than I did, then you are in real trouble.”

May he rest in peace.

Charlie Cory-Wright QC

Joint Head of Chambers

3/11/2021

 


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