Master Fergus Randolph has always been involved in promoting the Bar’s interests in the EU. Having undertaken a stage in the Commission in the late 1980s, he has developed a specialist EU law practice and is a tenant at Brick Court. Together with Master Hugh Mercer, he promoted and developed the idea of the European Circuit.
Those members of Middle Temple fortunate enough to have premises in the Inn are blessed indeed. History hangs lightly, but all-embracingly, on our surroundings. We wake to numerous (not always synchronous) chimes from the various bells in the vicinity. Temple Church is a constant reminder of our past and also our present, with mellifluous music from the world-renowned choir and its top organist. Twilight descends over the various squares and courts, the gates close and peace returns to this special place.
The Inn as a home is not just a near-perfect historic jewel, something that has not escaped eagle-eyed film location executives who frequently use the Inn for their productions and, happily for the Inn’s finances, pay well for the privilege. It is a vibrant, living community protected by long established statutes, obliging the Inn to ensure that it is a place for the education and lodging of its members. Accordingly, residential premises are reserved for members of the Inn: students, practitioners and retirees alike.
One might think that reserved status would lead to a rather uniform approach to living in the Inn. Nothing could be further from the truth, as is clearly shown for example by the annual summer party held traditionally in the Master’s wonderful garden. Lengthy disquisitions over copious refreshments range far and wide and the law rarely gets a look in.
And that brings me, somewhat late on the page, to the Temple Residents’ Association (TRA); the above- mentioned summer festivity is not organised by the Inn, but rather by the TRA. It comprises of residents from Middle and Inner Temple, a good example of harmony between them. That composition makes eminent sense given the proximity of the residents and common issues that affect them. Eminent sense and Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss are inextricably linked and it is therefore no surprise that she conceived of the idea to create such an association over 40 years ago.
Its aim is straightforward; to represent the interests of residents of both Inns, without fear or favour. Those interests have been tested in recent years, with Inner Temple’s Pegasus project and rent increases being but two examples. Bringing things even more up to date, the present lockdown has presented some of the residents, particularly those retired and/or on their own, with specific problems. The TRA’s community spirit did not disappoint, with younger members offering their services (suitably socially-distanced) to those in need.
In carrying out its duties, the TRA engages with all relevant ‘stakeholders’, that is to say, the Inns themselves and their committees, as well as the contiguous London councils and other institutions such as TFL, where their activities (or proposed activities) may or will have an impact on its members. One notable victory, although it would be churlish to claim it wholly as our own, was in relation to the ill-fated Garden Bridge project; once the TRA got its teeth stuck in, no quarter was given and our present Prime Minister had to leave the field, vanquished. We also have to deal extraordinarily frequently with the behaviour of dogs in our stunning gardens; needless to say, it is never a TRA’s member’s dog that comes across our radar (or rather it appears that the attraction of our suggested ‘waste’ composting sites may not be obvious to external pooches). More seriously, the impact of the Pegasus project would have been extremely deleterious to the wellbeing of many of our members in terms of noise, general disturbance and removal of residents’ facilities. Through the good offices of the TRA, Inner Temple and its contractors sensibly put in place mitigating measures for the benefit of the residents. Needless to say, we are monitoring the works closely as they move through their various phases.
In addition to our summer party, we hold events through the year and via our website (www.templeresidents.com), we aim to keep our members up to date with all relevant developments. We are in fact so up-to-date that we have been recently holding remote meetings via Zoom.
We welcome new members with open arms, particularly if they are willing to serve on our Executive Committee! If you are a resident but not yet a member, please feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. uk. As a Middle Templar, I can and will say that the Inn’s esprit de corps, best captured by our toast to Domus, is alive and well in the TRA.