While I was away, Steven Whitaker resigned as Senior Master of the Senior Courts in the Queen’s Bench Division. Steven Whitaker’s skill lay in making procedure the servant of justice; the prevailing orthodoxy is that procedure is an end in itself, with individual justice in individual cases subordinated to efficiency at all costs.
Steven Whitaker has many friends and supporters amongst those who are interested in justice as it is defined in the overriding objective. For some of us, that interest is primarily a professional one – in the context of case management generally, of electronic disclosure specifically, and of cross-border discovery, each of which he influenced for good. For many others his actions had a direct personal effect, principally the victims of mesothelioma, whose group litigation he managed firmly with an eye to the urgency appropriate to the circumstances and for which he won praise in Lord Justice Jackson’s report. He is also a good bloke, that highest of understated English compliments.
Before I turn to my own tribute, see some of the comments which turned up on Twitter as the news of his departure broke.