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'Simply irreplaceable': tributes pour in for Judge Carr


Mr Justice Henry Carr, an IP judge at the England & Wales High Court who was “utterly devoid of pomposity,” has sadly passed away

Mr Justice Henry Carr

In a statement today, the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary announced his death with “great sadness.”

“On behalf of the entire judiciary, the Lord Chief Justice wishes to record his admiration for Sir Henry’s outstanding contribution to the administration of justice, which has been so tragically cut short.”

After studying jurisprudence at Hertford College, Oxford and obtaining an LLM from the University of British Columbia in Canada, Mr Carr begun his career as a barrister in 1982. He took silk 16 years later, in 1998, specialising in all areas of IP law.

In 2007, Mr Carr was appointed as a deputy High Court Judge, and was chairman of the Intellectual Property Bar Association (IPBA) from 2012 until October 2015 – when he became a justice of the High Court Bench, Chancery Division.

As a judge, he delivered a landmark decision in 2017 in a biosimilar dispute brought against AbbVie. Mr Carr granted a declaration in favour of a number of pharmaceutical companies that had been seeking to launch rival products to the world's best-selling drug, Humira.

During his time as a QC, Mr Carr was highly successful. In one notable case, he led airline seat supplier Zodiac to victory against Virgin Atlantic at the UK Supreme Court. In its 2013 ruling, the court overturned decades of practice, ruling that damages should not have to be paid for infringing a patent that was later revoked at the EPO.

“Master stroke”

Gordon Harris, a partner at Gowling WLG who represented Zodiac with Mr Carr in that case, says he was a much-valued friend and colleague.

“I was privileged to work with him many times, but undoubtedly my finest memory is of working with him in the Supreme Court in Virgin v Zodiac. He pulled a master stroke by finishing our submissions early on the first day, forcing the other side to start their case slightly unprepared. The forty minutes they had to fill went very well for us.” 

Harris adds that Mr Carr was “unfailingly polite, kind and generous with his time,” adding that he was never flustered, always good humoured, “and utterly devoid of the pomposity which sometimes overcomes judges.”

As a person, a lawyer and a judge, “he is simply irreplaceable,” Harris says. “We will all miss him hugely.” 

“Fine legal mind”

Mr Justice Arnold, another IP specialist judge at the High Court, says Mr Carr was among the leading IP advocates and judges of his generation. 

“Among many other distinguishing qualities, he had a fine legal mind and a remarkable facility, for someone without a STEM degree, for grasping the most complex technical subject matter. He was also a very warm and funny person who was excellent company. He is a great loss to the Chancery Division, the Patents Court and the wider world of IP.”

Daniel Alexander, chair of the IPBA, says Carr was a great leader of the profession and supporter of more junior barristers. 

“He was an outstanding advocate and an exceptionally fair-minded albeit devastating opponent who made everything look simple. His work rate as a lawyer and as a judge was legendary.” 

Jas Kahlon, who was Mr Carr's clerk at the High Court since October 2015, when he took up his role, says the judge was kind, warm, "extremely funny, very witty and, on top of all of that, he had the most brilliant mind."

She adds: "He was held in very high regard and very well respected by all the staff, clerks and ushers who had the privilege to know and work for him. He always had time to stop and talk to them and ask them how they were.

"I will miss him immensely and all the laughs and jokes we shared along the way."

“Joy to work with”

Morag Macdonald, partner at law firm Bird & Bird, had known Mr Carr since he was a young junior barrister. 

“Not only was he an outstanding lawyer but he was a lovely person and a joy to work with and even more fun to have a drink with,” she remembers.

“His amiable and charming nature masked a quiet determination. I remember on one case when we were in the Court of Appeal, and in the face of their Lordships making it pretty clear in the first five minutes that they were not that favourably disposed to our case, Henry stayed on his feet, stuck to his guns and gradually won them around to our way of thinking.”

She adds: “For the sadly short time that he was a judge, he gained a reputation for being pleasant and fair while firm and producing well-reasoned judgments. We will all miss him very much, not just as a lawyer but as a friend.”

“Deep sense of right and wrong”

The partners at law firm Kirkland & Ellis remember Mr Carr as a “wonderful, kind, brilliant and thoroughly good man.”

“Henry was a ‘good man’ in every sense of the phrase. A great judge. A hard working QC, a team player. He had a deep, moral sense of right and wrong,” they say.

“Faced with an intractable IP problem, or an unresolvable dispute, or even an impossible client, there was no one you would rather be working with. 

“Even in the most intense moments, the darkest moments, Henry would smile – and make us smile. He might suggest we all step out for an ice cream or a coffee. 

“The picture we will keep in our minds is of Henry surrounded by other barristers, solicitors and papers, tie undone, holding court. He knows how to dispatch every one and every point. Beset by numerous legal arguments, he’s finding a way through all of them. We are looking on in awe.

“We were so lucky to have him,” they add.

Ben Allgrove, global head of the IP practice at international firm Baker McKenzie, says: “The IP team at Baker is devastated. Henry was a giant of the IP scene; a fantastic advocate, a skilled judge, and a truly wonderful human being. I juniored for him in the early part of my career; he was a mentor and a friend, acting on some of our most important cases, including to the Supreme Court and CJEU.” 

Michael Hart, another of the IP partners at Baker McKenzie, says that Mr Carr, from when he was a junior until he was a senior QC, was the most “effortlessly able and fun person to instruct.” 

“He was an outstanding advocate, an excellent judge and a great friend and human being who will be hugely missed by all those who had the real privilege to know him.”

More memories

Just over three weeks ago, on June 27, Managing IP interviewed Mr Carr at the Rolls Building in London. We found him to be warm, accommodating and eloquent. It goes without saying that as a judge at the England & Wales High Court who had previously been a successful IP barrister, he was one of the finest IP minds in the country.

During conversations before the interview, every lawyer we spoke to made it clear how highly regarded Mr Carr was. They said they enjoyed appearing in front of the judge and that he was a very nice man. This was obvious from our interview, in which Mr Carr spoke passionately and thoughtfully on a range of topics. As a mark of respect, we have made the full interview freely available.

Managing IP sends our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Carr.

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