Patrick Arthur Devlin

Patrick Arthur Devlin

British lawyer, judge and barrister
Date of Birth: 25.11.1905
Country: Great Britain

Biography of Patrick Arthur Devlin

Patrick Arthur Devlin was a British lawyer, judge, and barrister. He was born in Chislehurst, Kent, into a family of architects. However, the family later moved to Aberdeen, Scotland, where Devlin and his siblings were raised in accordance with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Two of Devlin's sisters became nuns, and one of his brothers became a priest. Devlin himself briefly considered a religious vocation and even joined the Dominican Order, but he left the order after a year and went on to study history and law at Cambridge University.

In 1927, Devlin graduated from college, and in 1929, he passed the bar exams to become a practicing lawyer. He began his legal career under the guidance of William Jowitt and quickly became recognized as an exceptional lawyer.

During World War II, Devlin actively collaborated with several government ministries. In 1948, Lord Chancellor William Jowitt appointed Devlin to the High Court, making him one of the youngest judges in British legal history. Later that year, Devlin was knighted. In 1959, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan assigned Devlin the task of compiling a report on the actions of British forces in Nyasaland. Devlin's report, however, criticized British methods, and an alternative report was published by the government to present a more positive image.

In 1960, Devlin became a Lord Justice of Appeal, and the following year, he was appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and a life peer. In 1964, at the age of 58, Devlin retired, having practiced law for the minimum required 15 years. Reports suggest that health issues, including his gradual hearing loss and the burden of tax-related cases, forced Devlin to leave the legal profession. In an interview, Devlin admitted that he found more satisfaction as a first-instance judge and did not enjoy the appeals court as much.

Devlin's most famous case as a judge was the trial of John Bodkin Adams, a British doctor accused of multiple murders. Despite suspicions surrounding Adams' activities, he was found not guilty, sparking public controversy. In 1985, two years after Adams' death, Devlin published a chronicle of the case in his book "Easing the Passing."

Even in retirement, Devlin remained involved in legal matters, serving on the International Labour Organization tribunal until 1986. He also continued to write extensively on history and law, particularly exploring the intersection of law and morality and the importance of trial by jury.

Patrick Arthur Devlin passed away in 1992 in Kennet, Wiltshire. His contributions to the legal field, both as a judge and an author, have left a lasting impact on British jurisprudence.