New challenges for judge as he joins Magistrate’s Court
THE opportunity to move from Bar to Bench was too good to miss for the new judge of the Magistrate’s Court.
Gary Perry was sworn in to the role, and that of Lt-Bailiff, at a recent sitting of the Royal Court after spending more than 12 years with St James Chambers.
‘I was very lucky to work at St James Chambers, which is full of hard working people and some of the most able lawyers I have ever met,’ he said. ‘But having been involved in legal advocacy for so long, the time was right when this job came along.’
Judge Perry was born in Birkenhead, where his father was a docker and his mother collected rents for the council.
He began his career in Merseyside in 1984 and with the help of sponsorship from the Crown Prosecution Service he was called to the English Bar in 1989.
During 22 years with the CPS he worked in Dorset, Hampshire and for the second half of that time in Sussex.
There, he rose to trial unit head, as well as spending two periods as acting chief crown prosecutor for that area.
‘In the UK, like in Guernsey, I was involved with some high profile cases which brought great responsibility,’ said Judge Perry.
‘The problem in England was that you were constantly being moved around and I came to Guernsey as I wanted stability for my family.’
Judge Perry was admitted to the Guernsey Bar in 2008.
‘If you are going to be a modern vibrant democracy, your justice system is an essential element of it.
‘There is a strong community service aspect to the work of both prosecutor and judge and it’s something that many people aren’t prepared to do.
‘The job of the judge is to treat everyone who comes before the court fairly and to make them feel they have had a fair hearing whilst recognising from the job we do that somebody will always be unhappy.’
The new job will take him into family law, an area he has not practised in before. It will be a new challenge and something he is looking forward to.
In his welcome address at Judge Perry’s swearing-in, Deputy Bailiff Richard McMahon said Judge Perry had a wealth of experience. Throughout his time in Guernsey he had demonstrated a fair and measured approach to presenting cases for the prosecution, which are qualities that would stand him in good stead on the Bench.
‘The other aspects of the judicial diet in the Magistrate’s Court – Petty Debts and family and child care cases – will require you to transfer the skills you have in criminal law and practice to quite different branches of the law,’ said Mr McMahon.
‘Although a Petty Debt case may involve a small amount, it can throw up difficult questions to resolve.’