Sir Clive Callman obituary


Sir Clive Callman, who has died aged 92, was a circuit judge, and, for 24 years, a deputy high court judge in the family division. He led a long, vibrant and determined life. Arguably ahead of his time, he insisted on putting the child’s needs at the heart of every divorce case that came before him. Even years later, he received letters of thanks from the young people involved.

Clive was born in Berlin, the son of Felix Callman, a dental surgeon, and his wife, Edith (nee Suessmann). In 1939, the family arrived in Britain as Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Clive was 11 and had practically nothing but the clothes he was wearing.

They settled in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, and Clive went to school at St George’s college, Weybridge, where he asked to be put up a year so he could leave earlier, in order to work to support his parents and sister. He then studied commercial law and economics at the London School of Economics, working at night to finance his degree.

As an immigrant seeking pupillage to become a barrister, Clive well understood the personal resilience required to navigate the British legal system without money or contacts. But his forensic intellect and hard work brought him success. He was called to the bar in 1951 and practised as a barrister in London and Norwich before becoming a circuit judge on the south-eastern circuit in 1973. He was a deputy high court judge from 1976 to 2000.

Passionate about educational opportunity, particularly for those whose families could not support them, Clive became a senator of London University and a governor at Birkbeck College, London, the LSE and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He offered decades of public and voluntary service – both to institutions and to individuals who came to him for help.

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He was committed to encouraging the next generation of lawyers, through advocacy training and student advisory work. In retirement he returned to study, qualifying as a mediator. He worked on complex international cases well into his 80s.

Clive never forgot his roots, the circumstances of his arrival in Britain and those – from Quakers to many Roman Catholics – who had helped him and his family set up their new life. He was knighted in 2012.

Anchoring his active professional life was his wife, Judy (nee Hines), a medical social worker, whom he married in 1967; she died in 2017.

He is survived by their two children, Jeremy and Tanya (whom I have known since we were teenagers), and by six grandchildren.



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