UK judiciary

UK High Court appoints Richard Meade as patent judge

The High Court has appointed a new patent-specialist judge, with former barrister Richard Meade today joining the bench. Meade's appointment goes some way towards solving the issues of staffing, which the UK IP judiciary is currently facing.

7 September 2020 by Amy Sandys

8 New Square, barrister The High Court of England and Wales, situated on the Strand in Central London © STOCK

After a quiet few months, the UK High Court has finally announced a new addition. From today Richard Meade (53), formerly a barrister at 8 New Square chambers, joins the UK High Court as a specialist patent judge. Meade’s appointment fills the gap left by current High Court judge Colin Birss. He will join the UK Court of Appeal in October.

The announcement is earlier than expected as the community had awaited an announcement at the beginning of October. However, another space for patent expertise remains at the UK High Court. The next judicial appointment is likely to be in January 2021.

Meade is first choice

Driven yet friendly, intellectual yet considerate, and an overall calming influence; the patent community has long considered Richard Meade an asset to the UK judiciary. Along with Daniel Alexander, a fellow barrister at 8 New Square, Richard Meade was a name frequently on the lips of the UK’s patent community in talk and speculation about the next High Court judge. Now the Judicial Appointments Commission has confirmed that Meade is the top choice.

Richard Meade began his pupillage as a junior barrister at 8 New Square in 1991. The chambers appointed Meade as a Queen’s Counsel in 2009. During his time at 8 New Square, Meade’s pupil master was the current Supreme Court judge, David Kitchin. Speaking to JUVE Patent in 2019, Meade said, “I was lucky that I got some really good cases early on with David, and with (former Court of Appeal judge) Robin Jacob who was our head of chambers, and a QC at the time.”

This experience stood Meade in good stead for the remainder of his time at 8 New Square. An eminent barrister in high demand among London’s legal firms, Meade has worked on some high-profile cases, with particular expertise in complex pharmaceutical proceedings. Previous cases before the High Court include Abbott vs. Edwards Lifesciences, Viiv Healthcare vs. Gilead, and Pfizer vs. Hoffman-La Roche. Meade also has experience in high-profile telecommunication patent cases.

Judicial duty

Furthermore, Meade already has experience of a role in the judiciary. In 2009, the courts appointed him as a Recorder. As such, Meade was involved in, for example, the handling of less complex cases, determining claims and trials, and delivering judgments. According to the UK judiciary, “Recordership is often the first step on the judicial ladder to appointment to the circuit bench.” Subsequently, those who go on circuit often end up sitting as a High Court or Court of Appeal judge.

Then, in 2011, the High Court appointed Meade as a deputy judge, a role which spanned a variety of pharmaceutical and telecommunications cases. Recently, under coronavirus social distancing measures, Meade presided over a pharmaceutical case between Merck Sharp and Dohme against Wyeth using a video conference platform. The patent community has praised Meade, along with his fellow deputy and full-time judges, for their ability and willingness to adapt to a new way of jurisprudence in such unprecedented times.

However, Meade’s appointment is not the only recent update to the UK courts. At the end of July, the UK judiciary announced two new additions to the Court of Appeal’s judicial bench. From October, specialist IP judge Colin Birss joins from the High Court alongside fellow Chancery Division judge, Christopher Nugee. The latter also has experience in IP matters.

The High Court will announce another patent judge in January 2021. Along with Daniel Alexander, deputy judge Douglas Campbell and current presiding judge of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, Richard Hacon, are the names frequently mentioned among the UK’s patent community.