Arthur Hutchinson

ARTHUR Edward Hutchinson, who has died at the age of 76, was the epitome of all that is best in a Circuiteer – a barrister with a circuit-based practice.

In his case, it was the North Eastern Circuit, where he practised for some 25 years from chambers in Park Square, Leeds, both as junior counsel, and later as a QC. Thereafter, he sat as a Circuit Judge, based principally in Bradford, from 1984-2000.

Among his contemporaries, he was a widely-admired advocate, whose ability was reflected in a practice that rapidly burgeoned at the instance of discerning solicitors, and (in those days) the County Prosecuting Solicitor.

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His style was the very opposite of theatrical, but it was highly effective.

His quiet demeanour and delivery, whether in a jury trial or to judges in civil actions, concealed a shrewd intelligence, and a sense of tactics that adversaries ignored at their peril. His court manners were punctilious.

He joined the North Eastern Circuit in 1959, immediately after call to the Bar, and was fiercely loyal to it. He believed that the regular close association of a limited number of colleagues on a Circuit “bred a special kind of trust and mutual respect”.

He was a strong supporter of the system. In those days, perhaps more than now, the Circuits also had a vigorous social dimension. Its focal point was Bar Mess, invariably held when in the south of his Circuit at the Leeds Club.

Traditionally this had taken place infrequently during the (then) short visits of the Judges of Assize to the City, but from the early 1970s onwards, messes became more frequent.

Always a congenial companion, the Mess for him was a special opportunity to extend the camaraderie of the courts into entirely relaxed and affable occasions. In those surroundings, he flourished.

As a Judge, he was wordly-wise, courteous and fair. He was greatly respected by those who appeared before him, and was much-liked by court staff at all levels.

He was born in 1934, the son of George and Kathleen Hutchinson, a Huddersfield solicitor. After schooling at Silcoates School, he undertook National Service as a commissioned officer, and then read law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was called in 1958, and took Silk in 1979.

After going to the Bench, he became Resident Civil Judge at Bradford.

In 1967, he married Wendy Cordingley, by whom he had three children. They lived virtually the whole of their married lives in the same house in Ilkley. The property’s splendid gardens reflected his passion for their tending, and his love of the outdoor.

He inherited from his father a life-long and knowledgeable support of Yorkshire County Cricket. At Headingley or at the annual Scarborough Cricket Festival, he was in his element – tankard in hand, and a broad smile on his always-bronzed features.

Never a man for foreign travel, he was a Yorkshireman to his fingertips, who loved his local pub and his many friends he met there and elsewhere in the Broad Acres, and whose best-loved excursion was to the family flat in Filey, with its adjacent beach hut. It was there that he suffered a fatal stroke.