Gordon Pollock QC

The best advocate of his generation, surely.


"Rest in peace" seems inappropriate. "Rest in robust but companionable discourse over excellent claret"?

He sounds like a Viz character.  Gordon Pollock and his amazingly large...

I'm so sorry for Rufus and Cressida. About their dad too.

Awful news, one of my best mates is a tenant their. Whilst he wasn't everyones cup of tea, he was a larger than life character, and generally held in high esteem by his colleagues.

Only recently I have been discussing the amount of senior Bazzas who keel over,mid age and above, presumably brought on by still working at full steam in their 40's 50's , 60's and 70's. I don't know why they do it. No idea how he came to pass, presumably not from a heart attack though

There was a guy at 3 Hare Court who continued to practise until his 80's and a few at 39 essex who also have done/did so. 

While I respect his achievements, I am not sure I agree with you Heff.

He was gifted, but a bully - of witnesses, court staff and, even, judges.



'It failed spectacularly, partly because, far from impressing the court, Deloitte's advocate, Pollock, a man seemingly unchallenged by modesty, came over as a nut in charge of the cake mix, not least when insulting the judge.

Soon after the hearing began in January 2004, Tomlinson had serious doubts, even though Pollock's initial remarks, which went on for 86 days, formed the lengthiest opening in English legal history. In reply, Nicholas Stadlen QC, for the Bank, addressed the court for 119 days.

After 11 months of bitter wrangling, Tomlinson was so concerned about the apparent vacuity of Deloitte's claim, that he warned Lord Woolf, Britain's most senior judge, that the hearing was "a farce" which had the capacity to "damage the reputation of our legal system".

To make matters worse, Pollock was scoring own goals with offensive remarks, aimed sometimes at the judge, but more often at his adversary, Stadlen. Of this Tomlinson concluded: "Mr Pollock was only infrequently rude to me… [but his] sustained rudeness to his opponent was of an altogether different order… it was inappropriate."


Heh, I love Jeff Randall:


"What I know about courtroom etiquette extends not much beyond a few episodes of Perry Mason. Even so, having a pop at the bloke in charge doesn't seem like a winning move."

Judge did make reference to Jarndyce v Jarndyce

'Mountains of costly nonsense'

He was referred to the Bar Standards Board for all that tripe.  He was clearly puffed to the max and under a lot of pressure to justify his cost and under instruction to put the boot in. He didn't stop at Nick Stadlen, who could take it, but had a go at Freshfields' associates and got into very hot water by alleging that the FF team were a bunch of "sex addicts" when reading the chronology of management of the case and noticing that two female associates had gone on maternity leave.  Oh dear.  

When that happened my mate had not long started pupillage.

Apparently he was not a man of detail, he would not actually ever read the 200 lever arch files , nor indeed much beyond the pleadings. However he had an army of super brilliant juniors behind him who loaded the gun,for him to fire.

Sumption was the opposite, he would read every small detail, and never relied on his juniors without checking, and checking again. He, Pollock was definitley of the sniff test generation of Counsel

in his prime he was the top case winning bazza

he had a nose for the winning point and the character to seam roller it to victory

If a clod be washed away by the sea

Europe is the less

Even if, by all accounts, this particular clod appears to have been a nuclear powered, chateau bottled, ocean going bellend.

Muttley, true about Grabs also, but not as bad as Pollock though.

"Seam roller" or "steam roller"? The difference matters to me.

I don't know if i'm hehing at the fact there is such a thing as a seam roller or that u r stuffed with sufficient nerdjuice to so know

Tbf, wang, had a terrible moment thinking i had spent my entire life saying ‘steam roller’ when the idiom was ‘seam’ so during the existential panic I googled it rather than double down on the error by correcting Heff and collecting the howls od derision is the RoF massive... then  imagine my shock at discovering there was such a thing (I have one but it is called a wallpaper roller in my world) 

There once was a pillock named Pollock

Who enjoyed being a bit of a trollop

But suddenly there was the day

For his maker to taketh him away

and give him his final bollock

Google images suggest the fat old barstard was very Gammony


i see we are prioritising the ‘you can’t defame the dead’ principle over the ‘don’t speak ill of the dead’ maxim. 


Mutters, I think it is important to embrace such foibles as you enter your dotage, that youngsters may mock us as you once did your old dears.

for example, my MIL (72) pronounces the word "poem" as "poim".  I dont know if this is a result of 1950s Leeds dialect or the fact she had never said the word out loud before.  

she also likes to tell the story of the first time she heard elvis.  often.  the seaside town changes (usually the pleasure beach at morecombe) as does the song (all shook up usually).  but she is consistent in beginning the story exactly when I have reached an interesting chapter in my book or the "MONEY" item has come on the antiques roadshow


Pollock called in ‘68, silk in ‘79. That’s remarkable speed even for a superstar. I guess they didn’t have the “working with others” competency to satisfy back then. 

If he was 22 at call as is usually the case he did 51 years at the bar so 73 plus. I expect. 

There was a dead Bazza called Pollock

Who generally behaved like a bollock.

He beasted the youth

And was rather uncouth



shit. There is only one word which works in the last line and I am never going to squeeze a technical rowing item into this narrative. The alternatives are weaker still. Something about his learned friend in a headlock. No. forget it.


There was a Queen's Counsel called Grabber

Who in court would just jibber and jabber

In no aspect sheepish

But most Uriah Heapish

He charged 2k an hour for this blabber.



There once was a Bazza called Pollock

Who generally caused people colic .

He spent 86 days 

on the filthy old ways

of his opponent's solicitors frolics

There once was a bazza called Pollock

Who people called "cock face" and "bollock"

"Fanny" and "Shit"

And "You hairy old tit"

His nickname was "Cofannitollock"

I dont understand the denouement mutters, is that an obscure CPR term?

would it be more intelligible, Wang, if the last line read


Or compounded "Cofannitollock"

From the Times:

"Gordon Pollock finished presenting his opening remarks in a case concerning the Bank of England’s alleged lack of oversight of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International and sat down. It was June 30, 2004, and the flamboyant barrister had been on his feet for 79 days, making his introduction the longest opening courtroom speech in English legal history. It was also among the most lucrative, earning an estimated £316,000 (about £433,000 today) for those remarks alone — although, as he pointed out, there was “a lot of preparation”.

BCCI had collapsed in 1991 owing more than £10 billion (about £22.5 billion today) to depositors and creditors. Its liquidators, represented by Pollock, claimed that the Bank of England had acted in deliberate bad faith in the way it had supervised the business and were claiming £850 million (about £1.9 billion today). Along the way this loquacious barrister gave the bank what the press described as a good “pollocking”, condemning the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street for relying on the “chocolate box Ruritania” of Luxembourg to supervise BCCI, a comment that some felt was a bit harsh on Ruritania.

A terrifying opponent, Pollock was the barrister of choice for many of the biggest trials of the time. Among them was litigation arising out of the collapse of the International Tin Council in 1985. Sir Richard Jacobs, now a High Court judge, recalled how the argument had revolved around whether the council had a separate legal personality, saying: “Gordon cut through the complexity by summarising his essential and winning argument in just three words, which he adapted from Descartes, ‘Debeo, ergo sum’: I owe therefore I am.”

As his reputation grew, Pollock was instructed in many high-profile cases, including the lengthy trademark dispute between the Beatles’ record label, Apple, and the technology company of the same name; Elton John’s multimillion-pound battle with his management company, and George Michael’s case against Sony, though that hearing had to be delayed because the portly Pollock had suffered a back injury.

Although a man of great integrity who would tell a client to their face if a case was hopeless, Pollock had a tendency to live dangerously. He did little to discourage reports that his “brief fee” for representing BCCI was £3 million, with the prospect of more to come. During a pre-trial hearing for the same case he had to apologise after “joking” that two female solicitors who were on maternity leave were “sex-crazed”; and on another occasion, during a murder appeal, he was taken to task by the Court of Appeal for his robust criticism of the defendant’s lawyer in the original case, which his closest colleagues considered against the spirit of fraternity.


Pollock, who was known for “psyching out” his opponents, would listen carefully to all sides of an argument, no matter how junior the person presenting, before he would disagree with them — in forthright terms, if necessary. On one occasion Lord Justice Megaw, a somewhat bad-tempered judge, is said to have thrown pencils when Pollock was taking issue with a particular point. During the BCCI case he reputedly got on so badly with the judge, Mr Justice Tomlinson, that they had to arrange their visits to the Garrick Club in central London on alternate nights to avoid running into each other. Tomlinson later criticised Pollock for his “sustained rudeness” to the Bank of England’s barrister in that case.

Unchallenged by modesty, Pollock revelled in his reputation. One former colleague recalled: “The stories of his cross-examinations were recounted in the same vein as those of the conquests of the Knights of the Round Table. He was vociferously disliked and disparaged by some at the Bar as strongly as he was admired by others.” Lord Grabiner, QC, once told The Times that Pollock was “big, noisy, clever and very aggressive”, adding, “He’s prepared to argue things that others are not.” Lord Sumption, QC, described his “wonderful chutzpah”, adding that he was “an incredibly eloquent and extremely effective street fighter with a tremendous talent for making impossible cases sound plausible”.

Alan Gordon Seton Pollock was born in London in 1943, the eldest of three children of Alan Pollock, an executive in the tobacco industry, and his wife, Kathleen (née Sinclair), both of whom could trace their ancestry to the Scottish Borders. His younger sisters, Alexandra, who became a history teacher, and Griselda, an art historian and well-known feminist, survive him. His father’s work took the family to Johannesburg and, later, Toronto. Gordon was educated at Glenalmond College in Scotland and later studied at Upper Canada College, playing cricket for the Canadian under-21 team.

There is a long Pollock family tradition of going into the legal profession and Gordon was no exception, reading law at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was offered a fellowship at Jesus College, but being disorganised he did not find the letter until two years later.

He later taught in the law school at the University of Chicago and then started postgraduate studies in Paris, but ran out of money and returned to the UK. He was called to the Bar by Grays Inn in 1969 and took silk in 1978. At about the same time he met Karen Philippson, a pupil at his chambers, and they were married in 1975. He was so hard working that he forgot it was his wedding day and had to ask a colleague to take over a hearing at short notice in the Queen’s Bench Division. Karen survives him with their children: Rufus, who founded Open Knowledge International, the online information-sharing network; and Cressida, who until recently was the chief executive of English National Opera (ENO).

They lived on a farm in Northamptonshire and Pollock often persuaded fellow lawyers to buy his geese and eggs. Meals were stimulating affairs, full of lively debate and discussion, and he was highly supportive of his family, joking with Cressida that she was becoming better known than him at the Garrick. For many years he had a house in southwest France, though he declined to be listed in Who’s Who, telling The Times: “I don’t like the thought of people being able to look me up.” Always the showman, however, he could frequently be seen riding a huge red BMW motorbike to the station.

Much of his early work was in commercial law and he would often appear in Times law reports. These included damages for breach of contract in a case involving currency conversion; the disappearance of an oil cargo at sea; and a case involving The Observer, a Sunday newspaper, after it published a midweek edition in 1990 to highlight a government inquiry into the affairs of the businessman Mohamed Al Fayed.

Pollock became head of chambers (then 4 Essex Court) in 1992, promising to be around for only two or three years because he had his eye on the bench. However, the prospect of being away from his family grew unappealing. He led chambers for 21 years, transforming it to Essex Court Chambers and, in the face of fierce internal resistance, relocating to its address at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. By 2005 he was a member of an exclusive club of barristers believed to be earning more than £2 million a year.

A Falstaffian figure with a large frame and a big chest, Pollock had piercing blue eyes and fair brown hair, and for a time he sported a beard that he enjoyed stroking with a friendly chuckle. He was a member of MCC and later in life took up golf, becoming a powerful driver and an often accurate putter. He captained the Bar’s golf society, including organising their overseas trips. His love of opera predated his daughter’s time at ENO. In particular he enjoyed Italian operas, an interest born of summers spent in Italy during his Cambridge years. However, he was not the slightest bit musical himself.

As for the BCCI case, after Pollock’s record opening speech on behalf of the collapsed bank’s creditors, Nicholas Stadlen, the Bank of England’s barrister, spent 119 days on his feet. The case ended in November 2005, when the High Court ruled that it was “no longer in the best interests of creditors” for the litigation to continue. As the saying goes: the lawyers always win.

Gordon Pollock, QC, commercial lawyer, was born on January 27, 1943. He died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis on April 11, 2019, aged 76"


I'm pretty sure that is a monstrous underestimate of the amount he had earned on the BCCI v Bank of England case by the close of his opening submissions