All concerned with European Law will wish to join Brick Court Chambers in our sadness at the death on Monday, aged 79, of David Vaughan CBE QC.
David practised at Brick Court throughout his life at the Bar. He transformed its fortunes, first by attracting to it such stars as Robert Alexander (later Lord Alexander) and Nicholas Phillips (later Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court), and then by building it into a major centre of excellence in European Law. As Maya Lester has noted on her EU Sanctions blog, he encouraged everyone from the most junior to the most senior with his kind, visionary and energetic style.
But David’s influence went far beyond the Chambers where he was so well loved. He was the editor of comprehensive works on EU law, a Visiting Professor at Durham, and a guiding force behind some fine institutions: a pioneering law practice in Brussels, the Bar European Group, the European Circuit and – in later years – the Slynn Foundation for European Law. Through his infectious excitement, he tempted many young practitioners, at home and in the accession states, from more sober and parochial pursuits into the great legal adventure that was Europe.
Of his more than 100 cases before the European Court of Justice, few were routine. Constitutional history was made in the Factortame litigation of 1988-2000, with the suspension and then disapplication of an Act of Parliament, followed by damages for those whose livelihoods it had destroyed. In the words of John Couceiro, one of David’s Spanish Fishermen, “he led us on a great journey, which I would not have missed for the world”. The Sunday Trading cases caused the ECJ to rethink its case-law on free movement of goods, and Courage v Crehan forged the principles still applied to competition damages. David fought with particular tenacity for procedural fairness, whether in the long run of cartel cases he conducted for ICI or in the sanctions context, where People’s Mojehadin of Iran paved the way for Kadi.
David rarely failed to win, and never failed to entertain. He took on the established order with relish, daring and humour. He saw the best in everyone, and helped others to see it too. Having done so much to humanise European law and make it palatable to the British, his death at this time is especially poignant. We will not see his like again.