Peter Lodder was appointed as a Senior Circuit Judge in January 2015. As the Recorder of Richmond Upon Thames he is Resident Judge at Kingston Crown Court. He was called to the Bar in 1981 and became a Queen’s Counsel (took silk) in 2001. He was appointed as an Assistant Recorder in 1997 and as a Recorder in 2000. He was Chair of the Criminal Bar Association in 2008/9 and Chairman of the Bar Council in 2011.
“I applied for this job because I believed that it would be interesting, what I did not realise was just how much I would enjoy it. A Judge at any level performs an important civic function. As a Senior Circuit Judge and Resident at a busy court centre the greater range and the variety of my responsibilities adds substantial satisfaction to the judicial experience.
“I was fortunate to have a fascinating career at the Bar, and after 14 years in silk including holding senior elected positions, I relished the challenge of a new career. This post provided the perfect opportunity. The balance of the workload in the criminal courts has changed significantly over my practising lifetime. Many cases once heard exclusively by High Court Judges are now heard by approved Circuit Judges. I try a wide range of allegations including murder and terrorism. This makes for a stimulating working environment.
“An extra dimension to my role is to lead a key organization within the criminal justice system. Constantly I am impressed by the commitment of my fellow Judges and our court staff to get the job done well and properly. Their approach makes my job so much easier. Nevertheless there are challenges, not least sustaining the volume of cases against a background of diminishing resources. To maintain and develop good practice, I liaise closely with the various interest groups whose work is so important to the smooth running of the building. Also we reach out to the local community, go to local schools and colleges, and encourage visits to the court.
“Over the past decade the Judicial diversity at Kingston has improved, but there is considerable room for improvement. I regard this as a very important issue; we welcome anyone who may be interested to see what it is like to sit as a Recorder.
“I found the JAC process a bit disconcerting. Applicants are expected to be very open, even immodest, about their experience. Training at the Bar promotes self-effacement and a professional reluctance to discuss the detail of cases in public. This is an evidence-based process, so applicants must think carefully about their responses. And think carefully about referees. Do not simply choose someone who is well regarded: it is the quality of the reference not the quality of the referee that counts. Make sure that your referees understand what the panel is looking for.
“The application may seem a daunting prospect, but rest assured once you succeed you will find life on the bench interesting and rewarding!”