Media law judge Mrs Justice Sharp was among ten new appointments to the Court of Appeal which were announced yesterday. She was one of the small number of High Court judges who regularly deal with defamation and privacy cases, having practised at the Bar from the specialist media law chambers 1 Brick Court.
She had a busy libel and media practice as a junior before taking silk in 2001. At the Bar she was involved in many important cases both as a junior and silk, including Lord Browne v Associated Newspapers Ltd ( QB 103), Prince Radu of Hohenzollern v Huston ( EMLR 13), Lowe v Associated Newspapers Ltd ( QB 580) and Curistan v Times Newspapers Ltd ( QB 231).
Mrs Justice Sharp was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division in 2009. Since her appointment she has given judgment in a wide range of defamation and privacy cases. She granted privacy injunctions in a number of cases, including DFT v TFD ( EWHC 2335 (QB)) and MJN v News Group Newspapers Ltd ( EWHC 1192 (QB)). These injunctions resulted in a Times report about her entitled “Former critic now grants most gagging orders [£]”. She has also presided over a number of libel trials including, most recently, Miller v Associated Newspapers ( EWHC 3721 (QB)) and El-Naschie v Macmillan ( EWHC 1809 (QB)).
With Mrs Justice Sharp’s elevation, Mr Justice Tugendhat – the Judge in Charge of the Jury List – and Mr Justice Nicol are now the only former media law practitioners dealing with cases at first instance in the High Court. Mr Justice Tugendhat will be required to retire in just over 18 months’ time, on 21 October 2014, when he reaches the age of 70. In a speech last year he made it clear that he hoped that media law practitioners would apply for judicial appointment:
I hope that those who would be best qualified for appointment to the High Court Bench will apply in the course of the forthcoming selection exercise. If specialist
lawyers do not apply, there can be no specialist judges. That is a prospect that greatly concerns me.
The promotions to the Court of Appeal on the new list include Mr Justice Vos (the judge who is currently managing the phone hacking litigation in the Chancery Division) and Mr Justice Fulford (the judge who has been presiding in the trials arising out of Operation Weeting and Operation Eleveden).