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News > Deaths & Obituaries > DICKER, Robin Mark QC

DICKER, Robin Mark QC

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Robin Dicker QC, who we sadly lost in 2021.

Robin Dicker QC

The following obituary appeared in The Times on Friday 7 February 2022.

Robin Dicker QC, insolvency specialist, was born on July 19, 1961. He died of cancer on November 12, 2021, aged 60. Leading light of the Bar who specialised in insolvency and restructuring law and was as stylish as he was self-deprecating.

Dicker in 2006. He was described as a “unique thinker” and his rise in his career was “meteoric”

It was a fatal mistake for the witness in a fraud case to admit to Robin Dicker QC that he had uttered a white lie. Under cross-examination Dicker made him confess to a string of untruths, each time inquiring what the colour was this time — white, grey or black?

Dicker’s self-deprecating wit and unexpected leaps of logic encouraged a generation of young barristers to think outside the box. According to Mark Phillips QC, a contemporary: “He was quirky and a unique thinker, one of a group of brilliant insolvency lawyers around during the collapses of the 1990s and 2009.”

Equally at home in the Supreme Court or the commercial court, he first came to attention in 1991, five years after being called to the Bar, as a junior in one of the most important legal consequences of the liquidation of Maxwell Communication Corporation, the late Robert Maxwell’s media empire. In Barclays Bank v Homan and others, the Maxwell liquidators claimed that Barclays owed them $30 million (£17.6 million then), and the bank wanted the case heard in London rather than New York, where the money had been paid. Dicker came up with the (then radical) suggestion that the judges on either side of the Atlantic talk to one another to resolve the impasse. Although cross-border insolvency deals go back hundreds of years, this was the first in modern times. In the same year he acted for Deloitte, liquidators of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), particularly in their claim that Bank of America, a big BCCI shareholder, knew that it was trading fraudulently years before it crashed.

After the 2008 financial crisis Dicker provided legal advice in the collapses of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, the British bank Northern Rock and the New York investment bank Bear Stearns.

“He was always quick to puncture pretension, not least his own,” Peter Sands, former chief executive of Standard Chartered bank and now executive director of the Global Fund, said. “Being cross-examined by Robin must have been terrifying.”

Dicker took silk in 2000, aged 38. From 2016 he was a deputy judge in the High Court, where he was meticulous about keeping his coloured pens perfectly aligned by his notepad. He decided that Trinny Woodall, the stylist and television personality, should not pay her late ex-husband Johnny Elichaoff’s £285,000 debts. Elichaoff died after falling from the roof of a west London department store, having been declared bankrupt days before his divorce from Woodall was finalised. Elichaoff’s trustee in bankruptcy claimed he was entitled to force Woodall to pay the debts; but Dicker declared that any right Elichaoff may have had to financial support from Woodall died with him.

Born in 1961 on RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, Robin Mark Dicker was the only son of Group Captain Roy Dicker and his wife, Audrey, by turns a film editor, teacher, recruitment consultant and evangelist. A younger sister, Suki, is a solicitor for the Christian Healing Institute in the US. They had a peripatetic childhood involving two tours of Cyprus and stays on several RAF bases in the UK, moving every three years. “We spent hours building camps in the garden, cycling, swimming, sailing,” Suki recalled. “I remember Robin riding a bicycle with stabilisers, drinking orange squash through a straw while reading The Beano.”

Aged eight, Dicker boarded at Dulwich Prep in Cranbrook, Kent. Later, at Tonbridge School, he excelled in English, history and maths and led his house debating team. He read jurisprudence at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was in the university sailing team. He enjoyed cooking in his rooms, especially grapefruit in crème de menthe. Soon after Dicker left Oxford he met Lindsay Etchells, who became a distinguished solicitor. They married in September, two months before he died. Their son, Jacob, graduated in 2020 from the University of York.

Dicker completed a pupillage at Brick Court Chambers and had a spell at 3 Paper Buildings before settling at South Square in Gray’s Inn. “Robin was socially awkward when he arrived,” said Phillips, “like Alan Rickman in Love Actually. But his rise to the top was meteoric.” He won the Legal 500 Bar Award for Insolvency Silk of the Year 2016, when he was elected bencher (governor) of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

A keen sailor, he kept Halcyon, a £240,000 Eagle 44 daysailer yacht, in Cornwall where he had a holiday home. He collected classic cars and electric bicycles, read the legal philosopher HLA Hart, listened to Schubert’s piano sonatas and Elton John, and had an Arsenal season ticket. His sense of style was undisputed; his coats, always of the finest fabrics, were the envy of friends.

It was easy to spot when Dicker was in chambers, for parked outside was his lovingly restored blue 1960s Aston Martin DB5, made famous as James Bond’s car in Goldfinger.

(HS 74-79)


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