Obituary: Philip Reader

It is with great sadness that I must report to members that Philip Reader (pictured), Costs Lawyer at Carter-Ruck, passed away peacefully on Sunday 11 March, following a long illness, writes Andy Ellis.

I first met Philip when he worked at Clifford Chance in the late 1990s. We were on opposite sides in a House of Lords taxation. I can still recall the look on his face when the Registrar, Mr Vallance White, decided to allow his client a lower hourly rate than I had conceded. We were able to laugh about it later, and so began our 20-year friendship in the profession.

Our paths crossed regularly after Philip joined Carter-Ruck in 2001, and we appeared against each other in many assessments. Despite the often highly charged nature of the underlying disputes (in both senses), there was never a time with Philip when any bad blood between the parties spilled over into a lack of courtesy, either in court or outside. In negotiations and when sparring over legal points, he always showed sound judgment over when to dig in and when to compromise.

In late 2015, Philip became unwell with what emerged was a benign yet serious brain tumour. Initial treatment was successful but, over the last few months, the tumour returned and with it a raft of further ailments.

I could not hope to improve on the sentiments expressed to me by Ben Williams QC last week, in which he said: “Philip will be very much missed across the profession. He was a delightful man, and a great ambassador for Carter-Ruck.

“But even more than this, no one who had contact with him in the last, appallingly difficult, months of his life could fail to be not merely impressed, but frankly overwhelmed, at the courage, dignity and good humour he showed. In Shakespeare’s words, ‘Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it’. It was truly remarkable.”

Nigel Tait, managing partner of Carter-Ruck, told me: “Philip successfully steered us all the way from the Woolf reforms up to and beyond the Jackson reforms, including the introduction of ‘no win, no fee’ and costs budgeting. His work was impeccable and so was his judgement.

“In the 15 years that we worked together, I can only recall us ever losing one hearing, when he had correctly advised me that the costs officer might ‘lack the imagination’ to award our client the full costs of his solicitors flying to Las Vegas for four days to see a witness.

“His erudite knowledge of red wine was drawn upon by many of us here before we entertained clients. His advice, advocacy, companionship and sense of humour are sorely missed.”

Philip, who was 54, is survived by his brother Brian, sister-in-law Maria and nieces Hannah and Amy.

The family has requested that any donations in Philip’s memory should be made to Oxford Hospitals Charity and will be passed to the NHS Nuffield OCE.


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Costs News
Published date
21 Mar 2018

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