“Our collaboration spawned a close and enduring friendship that will last our lifetimes.”
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Marc Bloomfield
Following Nic Madge's retirement as Legal Action housing author, long-time friend and co-author Jan Luba QC shares his thoughts and memories.
This issue of Legal Action is destined to become a collector’s item! It is the first ever to carry the article ‘Recent developments in housing law’ without the name of ‘Nic Madge’ appearing as a co-author.
Nic and I began to write this series of articles some 33 years ago, with the first being published in September 1985. Three decades on, the current article (see page 39) is the only one – in all that time – that has not had Nic’s input.
As readers will know, Nic recently retired from the circuit bench. He received well-attended judicial send-offs at both Luton Crown Court and the County Court at Central London. Lavish tribute was rightly paid by his colleagues from bench and bar. I myself hope that the unique contributions of his earlier life in legal practice and of his selfless extra-judicial activities will be suitably marked by a more informal event later this year, to be attended by the scores of practitioners who have come to know and admire him.
He has not relinquished (just yet) all his legal writing, but it seemed sensible for his place to be taken on ‘Recent developments’ by a housing lawyer very much in touch with day-to-day legal practice. I am delighted that his son Sam, with whom he co-authors the Housing Law Casebook, has been able to pick up the baton. I cannot claim to expect to be still writing the articles with Sam in 33 years’ time, but who knows? However long it endures, I am sure it will be as productive a partnership with son as with father.
Nic has recently claimed that ‘Recent developments’ was ‘his’ idea (see Sue James, ‘Sharing knowledge, empowering people’, November 2017 Legal Action 8). As in so much else we have done together, he is probably the one of us most likely to be right. Back then, he was the latest new solicitor to join Bindmans and I was a fledgling in-house welfare rights specialist with the CAB service. For reasons that I am sure neither of us fully understands, our working partnership proved smooth and (largely) harmonious from start to finish.
We have ended our co-authorship of the articles in a very different time from when we started. It gives me the greatest pleasure to think that there may be readers of our recent articles who were yet to be born – or were still at school – when we first put our fingers to our typewriters for ‘Recent developments’ in the mid-1980s.
Early articles were generated in wine-bar-based discussions over carbon paper copies of our respective initial, typed texts.
Early articles were generated in wine-bar-based discussions over carbon paper copies of our respective initial, typed texts. After a few years of writing together – in an age before the internet, mobile phones or email – we embraced with relish the chance to move to perforated sheets of continuous printout from our early Amstrad 8256 word processors. From then on, we rode the fresh waves of new technology into the new era of Word, track-changes, spell-checkers and more. As ever, Nic led us through those changes from the front.
It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the value (or otherwise) of our articles to those who have had cause to read them. In any event, I would be unlikely to address the subject with the clarity and authority already given to it by the kind and masterful John Gallagher (‘“Recent developments in housing law” at 25’, September 2010 Legal Action 8).
What should be highlighted is the legacy of the many initiatives our series of articles generated. Not only did similar series spring up in other subject areas in Legal Action, but ‘Recent developments’ begat two sub-series of its own: ‘Housing repairs update’ and ‘Housing benefit update’. Of course, it was Nic who had the vision and energy to organise, catalogue and collate our collaborative material into what became the Housing Law Casebook.
What I can and must do is mark the incredible value that I personally derived from working in partnership with Nic on the hundreds of articles we must have written together.
What I can and must do is mark the incredible value that I personally derived from working in partnership with Nic on the hundreds of articles we must have written together over those many, many years. Our collaboration spawned a close and enduring friendship that will last our lifetimes.
It also blessed us with the opportunity to work with a string of first-class editors and sub-editors at LAG. If we each have any lasting skills as writers, they were honed by those wonderful people. I remain in their debt.
But it is with Nic I finish, as I started. He was the ‘wizard’. I was the ‘apprentice’. If we produced a little magic over the past many years, it was by my ‘accident’ and by his ‘design’.

About the author(s)

Description: Jan Luba QC - author
Jan Luba QC is a senior circuit judge and a designated civil judge.