Thanks to support from Exeter’s Alumni Relations team, I had the privilege of marshalling Exeter alumnus the Hon Mr Justice Aarif Barma JA of the Hong Kong Court of Appeal for a week in October 2019. Unfortunately Mr Barma did not hear any cases during my time with him, but he very kindly took me out for lunch and arranged for me to sit with several of his colleagues.
I watched cases heard by two different judges, and sat either with the clerk right beneath the bench or in the jury box, such that I faced the barristers rather than the judge. It was a privilege to watch several silks argue their submissions from the judges’ perspective, which taught me a lot about advocacy. I was particularly impressed by their composure in the face of challenging questions, and I will certainly be incorporating several eloquent turns of phrases into my own speeches in the future.
Further, approaching each case from the perspective of the judge rather than the perspective of counsel (as I have during previous internships) was eye-opening – in general, judges have a bigger-picture view of the facts, and being able to discuss the merits of each submission with the judges after each day’s hearing was certainly the highlight of my week.
Mr Barma also allowed me to help with some desk work: I reviewed the submissions for a hearing on damages that he had pending, which raised interesting questions of law about the appropriate measure of interest for a bank repaying a judgment sum to the opposing party in the case of a judgment reversal. I appreciated that Mr Barma took the time to walk through the varying approaches with me, assessing the merits of each and answering all my questions.
The whole experience was extremely eye-opening and has bolstered my aspirations to become a barrister. I certainly also picked a fascinating time to visit Hong Kong, and being literally in the middle of a politically important movement was interesting, to say the least.