Sir Martin Nourse: 1932-2017

We have just heard the sad news that Sir Martin Nourse has died.

He was deputy Head of Chambers (at its former address, 2 New Square) from 1972 to 1980 under Maurice Price QC, following Sydney Templeman and John Brightman, each of whom went on to sit in the House of Lords. Martin was always destined for high judicial office. He took silk at only 38, was appointed a Chancery High Court Judge ten years later and to the Court of Appeal in 1985 at the age of only 52, where he was then entitled to remain if he wished for 23 years more. He retired from the Court of Appeal in 2006.

He was a dignified figure, but exceptionally courteous; he never forgot a name of anyone in a family, and took care with the youngest or least significant in a room. His judgments were orthodox, and well-phrased; they are always  worth turning to for a clear exposition of principle. He was also appointed as Attorney-General of the County Palatine of Lancaster (1976-80), as a judge of the Jersey and Guernsey courts of appeal, as Vice-President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal (2000) and acting Master of the Rolls for a short period in 2000, and Treasurer of Lincoln’s Inn in (2001), all of which he enjoyed and served well.  He had no time for pointless innovation, but was loyal both to institutions and people. He would appear unexpectedly at Chambers tea to hear our news, long after he was raised to the Bench. In his retirement he and his elegant wife Lavinia enjoyed their generous houses at Grantchester and then Dullingham, where they entertained and made beautiful gardens. We feel for her.