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Judge who used mobile phone to solve problem wins praise

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Lawyers have praised a divorce court judge who had a mobile phone conversation with an office clerk while overseeing a High Court case.

Judge Richard Todd answered a call from a member of staff in a case listings office in a bid to solve an administrative problem.

He had the conversation while sitting on the judge’s bench at the start of a trial, involving an estranged couple who are fighting over money, in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Tuesday.

Barristers had written to Judge Todd, saying they wanted to find a date for another hearing, prior to the start of the trial.

Judge Todd entered court carrying a mobile and told barristers that he had called listings staff from his office.

He said they were trying to find a suitable date and had his mobile number.

A listings office clerk called the judge’s mobile a few minutes later, Judge Todd answered, had a conversation and made a note of a possible date, said thank you and ended the call, then relayed the information to barristers.

Judge Todd accepted that using a mobile in court was “unorthodox”, but said he was trying to be efficient.

The judge said the estranged couple involved could not be identified.

Lawyers said Judge Todd had made practical use of modern technology in a bid to save time - and public money - and had not disturbed proceedings.

Solicitor Ben Rose, who is based at law firm Hickman & Rose, said: “Information technology, properly used, offers those working in the legal system and elsewhere the opportunity to save considerable amounts of time and money.”

* Fifteen months ago, a judge did a Google search on a laptop while analysing a dentist’s fight over money and his ex-wife. Mr Justice Moor carried out internet research on a company the man worked for during a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London. The dentist was not represented by lawyers and was the only person appearing before the judge. He wanted permission to challenge a ruling by a lower-ranking judge relating to the size of monthly payments he should make to his ex-wife.