Lord Jones, the Court of Session judge who died last weekend, was honoured at a special sitting of the court today, with tributes being paid from the bench and from both branches of the legal profession.
The Lord President, Lord Carloway, said it was "a dark moment in the calendar of the court" when the College of Justice lost one of its senators ahead of time.
“It happens rarely, but the sadness which descends on Parliament House when it does is of the deepest. The court has assembled in its full pomp and ceremony to mark the passing of Mike, Lord Jones,” he stated.
Lord Carloway recalled the list of those who passed advocate in 1977, with “Mike” at the top, followed by Lady Paton, Lady Clark, Lord Malcolm, Lord Carloway himself and Lord Burns.
“During all the years which have come and gone since then, we learned the skills of advocacy at its acutest cutting edge. In this, Mike was always to the fore, embracing the modern techniques of legal training in which he was so deeply involved from the inception of the Faculty’s nascent skills course", he said.
“I would like to pay particular tribute to his contribution on the bench since his installation just over three and a half years ago. Over that short space of time, and especially since he became one of the commercial judges, he applied his meticulous analytical skills to an extraordinary range of different subjects from trusts to the environment.
“Our thoughts are with all of Mike’s family. The profound shock that has struck us all with his passing will linger long in our memories.”
James Wolffe QC, Dean of Faculty, described Lord Jones as one of the outstanding advocates of his and any generation.
“It is not trite to observe that he graced these courts by his presence, for, as an advocate, Mike had a quality of grace about him. None of us who saw him work could doubt for a moment that we were in the presence of a master… More than 20 years ago, he was one of the prime movers in the development of the Faculty of Advocates’ advocacy skills course. Through that work, he encouraged and inspired many others to strive for the same high standards which he demanded of himself. If, today, we are a profession which takes seriously the promotion of skill in advocacy, that is in no small part Mike’s legacy.”
Mr Wolffe added that the centre and most important part of Lord Jones’s life was his family.
“In her email intimating the sad, the dreadful news, Fiona asked us to keep Mike and all his family in our hearts and thoughts. And today, and in the days ahead, we will,” he concluded.
Christine McLintock, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said it was a great sadness but a significant honour to pay tribute on behalf of the Scottish solicitor profession to Lord Jones, “an outstanding contributor to the law of Scotland”.
She said Lord Jones had enjoyed a distinguished career as an advocate before joining the solicitors’ profession in 2008 as a solicitor advocate and senior partner at Simpson & Marwick.
“Mike adapted to this new role as a partner in a law firm with great insight and wisdom… As counsel, and as a solicitor advocate, he was the advocate of first choice for many solicitors and their clients… His advocacy was quiet, almost understated, but compelling... As a judge he was always courteous, always interested – and always trying to do justice. He was a pleasure to appear before.
“Lord Jones has given a lasting legacy to all three branches of the Scottish legal profession.”