Judge Stuart Frith, Deputy Insolvency and Companies Court

“I was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1983, specialising in insolvency and restructuring, and was a partner with Stephenson Harwood LLP, until retiring from practice in April 2021. I held senior leadership roles as the President of the Insolvency Lawyers Association in 2001 to 2002 and as the President of the Association of Business Recovery Professionals (also known as R3) between 2017 and 2018.

In 2008, I was appointed as a Deputy Insolvency and Companies Court (ICC) Judge. By the time I applied, I had accumulated 25 years of experience of litigation in this area and had reached a stage in my career when it felt like the right time to apply. In preparation for my application, I had discussions with full-time judges and deputies in post. They gave me very helpful and encouraging comments, suggestions, and support. It was a rigorous process, involving two examination papers and a panel interview. Useful guidance was provided beforehand regarding the examination scope. The panel interview included a full-time judge, lay members, and was chaired by a senior leader from the Ministry of Agriculture (now The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). There was a wide variety and range of interview topics including discussions on the role, my experience generally, and specific questions around decision-making.

I was initially appointed as a bankruptcy registrar. Over time, this role has expanded in scope and complexity. The jurisdiction of Insolvency and Companies Court (ICC) Judges now encompasses more work previously handled by High Court Judges. The major challenge I had to confront was to acquire the art of judgment writing. Barrister appointees are well used to this, given their experience in providing written opinions in practice; solicitor appointees perhaps not so much, but it is a skill that quickly develops with time.

Well-structured and relevant judicial training is provided by the Judicial College and the full-timers are very supportive to deputies. Of my intake, three out the six deputies appointed are now full-time. Our Chief ICC Judge also sits as a Deputy High Court Judge. An appointment can therefore lead to an opportunity for a full-time role and can provide a step onto the judicial ladder.

I have found it very rewarding to have the opportunity of contributing to an area of practice that I thoroughly enjoy, and value working with excellent colleagues and support staff within a thoroughly pleasant and supportive working environment.”

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