Sydney Templeman, Baron Templeman

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Templeman
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
30 September 1982 – 30 September 1994
Preceded by The Lord Russell of Killowen
Succeeded by The Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
Personal details
Born Sydney William Templeman
(1920-03-03)3 March 1920
Died 4 June 2014(2014-06-04) (aged 94)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Margaret Joan Rowles (d 1988),
Sheila Barton Edworthy (d 2008)
Relations Anthony Templeman
Residence Exeter
Alma mater St John's College, Cambridge
Profession Barrister

Sydney William Templeman, Baron Templeman, MBE, PC (3 March 1920 – 4 June 2014) was a British judge. He served as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1982 to 1995 in the House of Lords and was created a life peer as Baron Templeman, of White Lackington in the County of Somerset.

Early life[edit]

Templeman was born on 3 March 1920.[1]


Military service[edit]

Templeman was called for service during the Second World War. He served in the 4 Gorkha Rifles, being called up in 1941, and was involved in action on several occasions. He acquitted himself sufficiently well to have been mentioned in dispatches, and was demobilised as an honorary Major, and then later appointed an MBE for his war service.[2]

Legal career[edit]

Lord Templeman made significant contributions to English law during his time as a judge, both within and outside his specialist field of tax law and intellectual property law. He gave leading speeches upholding orthodox doctrine against calls for reform in the important land law cases of Prudential Assurance Co Ltd v London Residuary Body [1992] 2 AC 386 and Rhone v Stephens [1994] 2 AC 310. [clarification needed][citation needed] He also sponsored the Land Registration Act 1988, which led to the land register of England and Wales being open to the public for the first time in 1990.[citation needed]

Templeman is famous for paving the way for later judges to combat tax avoidance. He is famous for the concept of "Sham Transactions" introduced in the case of Black Nominees Ltd v Nicol (Inspector of Taxes). This case (which concerned an avoidance scheme adopted by the advisers of the actress Julie Christie) was groundbreaking as for the first time, judges were able to depart from the controversial Duke of Westminster Doctrine. Consequently, the business/commercial motive of a transaction conducted by a taxpayer would be considered. Notwithstanding this he was also famous for being a supporter of the Ramsay Doctrine and was notable for writing a scathing public letter (in retirement) to Lord Hoffman for wanting to move away from the Ramsay Principle in the Ramsay case. Ironically, during his time at the bar he had been active in advising on tax mitigation schemes for his clients, although this may have helped formulate his later views on the bench.[2]

Templeman was also one of the dissenting judges in the famous case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech AHA [1986] AC 112, arguing, inter alia, that sub-16-year-old girls should not be having sex and, therefore, cannot legally consent to being prescribed contraceptives by a physician (thus necessitating parental consent to obtain prescription contraceptives).[3]

Other significant cases in which Lord Templeman appeared were the Spycatcher case (relating to the duty of confidentiality and the Official Secrecy Act)[4] and dismissing the claims of the mother of Jacqueline Hill, the last victim of the Peter Sutcliffe (the "Yorkshire Ripper"), against the police for failing to apprehend the killer before he murdered her.[5][6]

Prior to his elevation to the House of Lords, he also made significant contribution to English jurisprudence sitting at first instance in EMI Limited v Pandit [1975] 1 All ER 418 when he granted the first Anton Piller order in English legal history.

Having been knighted in 1972,[7] Templeman was created a life peer on 30 September 1982 under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 taking the title Baron Templeman, of White Lackington in the County of Somerset.[8]

During his time on the bench, Lord Templeman was known to be short with counsel who persisted with a line of argument after he had made up his mind, which earned him the affectionate sobriquet, "Syd Vicious".[2] Also prior to his capacity as a judge, Templeman QC was an eminent barrister. One notable case which he worked on was the case of Anisminic v Foreign Compensation Commission [1969] 2 AC 147 where he was counsel for the respondents (the Foreign Compensation Commission).

An elegant turn of phrase[edit]

Lord Templeman was also renowned for his colourful language. In Borden (UK) Ltd. v. Scottish Timber [1979] 3 WLR 672 at 686 he remarked:

"At some distant date, when the court has unearthed the unearthable, traced the untraceable and calculated the incalculable, there will emerge the sum which it is said belongs to the plaintiffs in equity, a sum which is immune from the claims of Crown and mortgagee, debenture holder and creditor, a sum secured to the plaintiffs by a simple retention of title clause, which referred only to resin but was pregnant with all the consequences alleged in the statement of claim and hidden from the gaze of all other persons who dealt with the defendants."


Lord Templeman has two sons, Peter (a Church of England vicar) and Michael (a barrister).


Lord Templeman died on 4 June 2014.[9]

Honours and decorations[edit]

Notable cases[edit]

English cases in which Lord Templeman gave speeches which influenced the direction of English law include:


  1. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014. Lord Templeman, a former Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, 94 
  2. ^ a b c "Lord Templeman – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 11 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Pilcher, Jane; Wagg, Stephen (1996). Thatcher's children?: politics, childhood and society in the 1980s and 1990s. Routledge. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-7507-0461-6. 
  4. ^ Attorney General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) [1988] UKHL 6
  5. ^ Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [1987] UKHL 12
  6. ^ "Obituary - Sydney Templeman". The Independent. 19 June 2014. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 45838. p. 14103. 28 November 1972.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 49131. p. 12953. 6 October 1982.
  9. ^ "Lord Templeman – obituary". Telegraph. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "Mandla and another v Dowell Lee and another – HOUSE OF LORDS" [1983] 2 AC 548, [1983] 1 All ER 1062, [1983] 2 WLR 620, [1983] IC R 385, [1983] IRLR 209, (46 MLR 759, 100 LQR 120, [1984] CLJ 219)