Family flowers only. Donations in lieu of flowers, if so desired, will be received at the service for St Cuthbert’s Church and The Mission to Seafarers or can be forwarded with all enquiries to Lee & Holmes Funeral Directors, Pateley Bridge, Tel 01423 712062.
Bruce Harris writes:
I first met Michael Mustill (as he then was – a senior junior at 4 Essex Court, now Essex Court Chambers) in very early 1964 when, together with Michael Kerr QC and a very junior Mark Saville (as they respectively then were), he formed the barrister team that represented the owners of the passenger liner Laconia which had caught fire and sunk off Madeira on Christmas Eve 1963. Richards, Butler & Co., for whom I then worked, represented the owners and their Club, negotiating with surviving passengers and the personal representatives of the deceased, recuperation of personal possessions, attending the Greek AEENA and SENA enquiries and handling many other aspects of a huge and complex case.
Subsequently we worked together on a number of cases, both in arbitration and the courts. His style of advocacy was refreshingly unfussy and he never took himself too seriously. Although his intellect and ability were second to none he remained extremely human, warm and often funny both at the Bar and later when on the Bench. He told me that if he was appearing before the formidable Brandon J. (as he then was) in the Admiralty court, and his opponent was making a good point, he would try to distract the notoriously particular judge by folding up an Admiralty chart in the “wrong” way, on the basis that the judge would be bound to interrupt opposing counsel to tell Michael that if he had to fold a chart, there was only one way of doing it.
Michael was a great supporter of the LMAA and enjoyed the relative informality of the annual dinner, where (once on the Bench) he was able to catch up with former colleagues. When one President decided to hold the dinner in the august surroundings of Mansion House, with appropriate pomp Michael told me, privately, that if this was going to be the future of the dinner he did not want to come to it again. Happily for us all we never returned to that venue.
Once on the Bench Michael delighted in the chance to escape from shipping cases and to deal with what he described as “real peoples’ problems”, though he continued to handle maritime matters when in the Commercial Court and subsequently, and indeed delivered many significant judgments that are still referred to frequently today.
For many Michael will be remembered for his monumental lecture in honour of another giant, the late Cedric Barclay (who had died in 1989), at the International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators in Vancouver in 1991. It is appropriate that the lecture at this year’s ICMA will be given by Michael’s brother-in-law, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers.
Michael Mustill had been ill for some years before his death but his tremendous spirit and generosity remained with him. Our last conversation, over the telephone to Pateley Bridge, followed an invitation that he had been unable to accept. It was long, detailed and as entertaining as ever, including Michael rejoicing in how he was being looked after by his lady carers. It sounds trite to say so, but I shall genuinely miss him sorely, as will many others.