Lord Clyde

Lord Clyde died on 6 March 2009 aged 77. 

James Clyde more than overcame the difficulty that might have been posed by being at the time he was called to the bar in 1959 not only the son of the then Lord President but also the grandson of an earlier Lord President.  Appointed to the Court of Session bench in 1985, he ended up as a Law Lord between 1996 and 2001.  Clyde also distinguished himself as chairman of the Orkney child abuse inquiry in 1991-92 and, after his retirement from the House of Lords, as Justice Oversight Commissioner in Northern Ireland (a role of vital importance in that country’s peace process).  Add to that his contributions to legal literature as author/editor of two editions of Armour on Valuation (1961, 1985, with J P H Mackay) and (with Denis Edwards) of the first Scottish text on Judicial Review (2000), and there is a pretty good case for seeing him as the greatest of the Clydes. 

A note in the Times on 31 March drew attention to a link with the London law firm Clyde & Co, of which Scots Law News had hitherto been unaware: the firm was founded in the early 1930s by Richard Arthur Clyde, who was an uncle of Lord Clyde and an English solicitor (a good way of escaping dynastic pressures in Scotland).  The firm started small and now has more than 1200 staff and offices in eighteen countries.

Lord Clyde’s death prompted an unusually large number of warm personal tributes from a wide variety of sources.  The elder editor of Scots Law News can add his own experience of Mr Clyde QC as he was when external examiner of the Edinburgh University Contract Honours course in the early 1980s.  His kindness then extended, not only to the students whose work passed under his scrutiny, but also to the young internal examiners whose pedagogical and assessment efforts were no less under his examination.  The principal memory is the frequency of Mr Clyde’s warm chuckle and his regular extension of the principle of benevolent interpretation to examination scripts – it is not so much what you say as what you really meant to say.