Legal Action Group was very sad to learn of the death of Julian Farrand in July 2020. Recently, LAG had the pleasure of meeting Julian at numerous events around the launch of Equal to Everything: Judge Brenda and the Supreme Court, where he attended, in his words, as an ‘AP’ (accompanying person) with his wife, Baroness Hale of Richmond. It was evident how proud and supportive he was. It was noted at his funeral that he took a ‘very real pleasure in the company of clever women – not a universal virtue amongst clever men’.
As many will know, Julian’s own legal career was as varied as it was illustrious and he played an important role in LAG’s history, as Andrew Arden QC notes in more detail in his memoir below.
Julian’s long and distinguished career spanned six decades of academic work and public service. After graduating in 1957, he qualified as a solicitor but then took up a post as an assistant lecturer at King’s College London. He was a lecturer at the University of Sheffield between 1963 and 1965 and then Reader at Queen Mary College between 1965 and 1968. During this time, he also obtained his doctorate from the University of London and in 1968 he was appointed as Professor of Law at the University of Manchester.
His specialism in property law led him to the Law Commission, where he was a Law Commissioner from 1984 to 1989. He was highly regarded for the vision with which he promoted the reform of property law in areas such as land registration, transfer of land and conveyancing. Sir Nicholas Green, Chair of the Law Commission, says: ‘It is of particular note that, 30 years later, the Commission is still undertaking work in these important areas.’
In 1989, Julian went on to become the second Insurance Ombudsman. Later, in 1994, he became Pensions Ombudsman, where he fought strongly for justice and equity for pensioners. Julian was made an Honorary Queen’s Counsel in 1994 and served as a Chairman of the Residential Property Tribunals until 2011.
Julian will be well known to Legal Action readers as the co-author of Emmet and Farrand on Title. Stephen Cretney, in his review of this work, noted Julian’s ‘exuberant erudition’. He also wrote an academic textbook – Contract and Conveyance – which earned him huge respect among Chancery lawyers.
At his funeral, on what would have been his 85th birthday – 13 August 2020 – the eulogy read:
Julian, we shall remember and thank you: above all, for your abundant love, your kindness, and your immense generosity to those you loved.
Julian will be much missed by his family: his wife, Brenda; children, Tom, Rachel, Sarah, step-daughter Julia, and his grandchildren Benjamin, Madeleine, Clara, Charlotte and Callum, and step-grandchildren Patrick and Amelia, and their partners.
Julian Farrand – a memoir
Andrew Arden QC
In 1974, I wrote a review of Julian Farrand’s Annotated Rent Act 1974, a Current Law reprint, for what was then called the LAG Bulletin. A short while later, I received a letter from the author informing me of an error in the review and requesting a correction. I did not respond at the time and a few weeks later received a reminder, which led to the correction. Immediately afterwards, I received another letter from Julian, enclosing a cheque and asking me to send him a copy of my recently published first novel!
In 1977, when the Rent Acts were consolidated, Julian’s Current Law reprint, Annotated Rent Act 1977 and Protection From Eviction Act 1977, produced what was arguably the first serious challenge to Megarry’s The Rent Acts, with extensive – and exhaustive – definitional notes and wide-ranging discussion. Those annotations were largely repeated in a second edition in 1980, after the Housing Act of that year, under the title Rent Acts and Regulations Amended and Annotated, which I was privileged to co-author, very much as the junior. The bulk of the most central of those annotations – still based largely on the 1977 originals (updated) – now reside in the Encyclopedia of Housing Law and Practice, as vibrant and as relevant as when they were first written (including the central discussion of ‘let as a separate dwelling’).
That book led to a short lecture ‘tour’ for LAG, in London, Manchester (where Julian was based) and Bristol. It was, I have to say, the most fun I have ever had at any lecturing event!
Julian’s career is well known. His academic career ended as Professor of Law at Manchester University, from where he went to the Law Commission. Afterwards, he became the Insurance Ombudsman, where he established many principles of fair treatment for policyholders which are still applied by the Financial Services Ombudsmen today. He was then appointed Pensions Ombudsman where he fought to entrench and safeguard pensioners’ rights in the face of legally-armed pension providers uniformly determined to keep him in check.
Throughout, he was a Rent Assessment Committee member (an experience he brought to bear in the 1977 book). He produced an academic textbook on conveyancing – Contract and Conveyance – which made him much respected amongst Chancery lawyers, far from the easiest audience to impress. He also edited The Conveyancer and Emmet on Title – subsequently renamed Emmet and Farrand – and wrote countless articles in journals both academic and otherwise, including the LAG Bulletin, as well as a novel of his own, Love at all Risks. Along the way, he married a fellow Law Commissioner who went on to become a High Court judge and whose subsequent career also blossomed (Baroness Hale of Richmond)!
Though physically slight, Julian was a giant amongst lawyers; in land law, he was unquestionably one of the greats of our time. If judges did not all quake at his fearless and uncompromising editorials and articles savaging their judicial errors, they certainly took note of them and, sometimes, even the more senior of them took issue, arguments which Julian usually won. And he did love a good argument! When the occasion called for it, he also had the knack of being able to debunk hypocrisy, pretension or insincerity with a singular observation that struck right at the core of the offence.
From an early age until the end, Julian was a tournament-level chess player; news of his death first publicly emerged on chess association sites. I always felt it was this which gave Julian his edge: he understood rules, how to handle them, how to deploy them, how to defeat them or resist assaults upon them. It was not his only edge: his commitment to people and to progressive causes was equally long-lived and an equally central part of his life and outlook.
We stayed in touch from those first days, at some times closer than at others but commonly on each other’s horizon, and we would often dine out, covering the world’s agenda over the courses and a bottle – even two! – of wine. He would also talk with love and pride of his children and grandchildren. I have not done him justice in this brief memoir; nor, in any event, do I have the skill to bring his quietly commanding, dignified presence to life, however much space I am permitted. For all of his achievements and his overarching acuity, he was – at least as I saw him – at heart a modest man, considerate of others and their concerns.
We didn’t always agree on everything, law and otherwise, but there have been very few people for whom I have had such regard and respect; I like to believe that I learned from his intellectual rigour and I think I learned from his political commitment. In this day and somewhat dumbed-down age, I am not sure that there are many more like him, or even many more to come. I said above that it was a privilege to work with him; it was much more a privilege to have known him.
Oh, and if there are any errors in this memoir, I have no doubt at all they will be brought to my attention, one way or another!