Speech by Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court: Integrity and independence in the judiciary and the financial services industry – a comparative study

Abstract: The Chancellor will explore, in the context of the digital revolution, the culture of and relationship between the UK financial services sector, the UK legal profession, and the judiciary in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, in a changing economic environment, and consider the importance of an independent and trusted judiciary to an internationally competitive UK financial services sector.

Introduction

  1. May I first thank Dame Colette Bowe for inviting me to deliver this talk.
  2. I want to examine the different approaches to integrity and its importance in the legal community on the one hand and in the financial services industry on the other hand in the context of the digital revolution. In many ways, the law and financial services have an important symbiotic relationship, which will need careful monitoring as the essence of what we all do changes in the coming months and years.
  3. I feel reasonably well-qualified to speak on this subject, having undertaken litigation arising out of some of the biggest financial scandals of the day over some 32 years at the Bar. I was involved in the early 1980s in Alexander & Alexander, which was one of the earliest Lloyd’s scandals and I acted for the finance director of Guinness in the Guinness/Distillers takeover in the mid-1980s.  From there, I moved on to act for the MGN Pension Fund trustee in the Maxwell affair.  I later acted for the Lloyd’s names in their successful claims against the Gooda Walker syndicates, and then in the Barings scandal, and in many more later such sagas.  I was also before 2009 a judge in the Courts of Appeal of three offshore jurisdictions, where we saw a wide variety of cases concerning international financial frauds and scams.  Since then, I have been deciding cases at various levels of the judiciary in England & Wales in more modern financial scandals.
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