News

Warner joins ‘boutique’ law firm

  • Distinguished career: former senior magistrate and judge Archibald Warner
  • Mark Pettingill (File photograph)

A former senior magistrate and Supreme Court puisne judge will join a well-known law firm after he retired from the bench.

Archibald Warner is to start his role as a consultant senior counsel at Chancery Legal in the coming weeks.

The “boutique” Bermuda company is headed by Mark Pettingill, a high-profile litigator and former attorney-general.

Mr Warner served as senior magistrate for 14 years before he stepped down in 2014.

His career has also included work as a police officer, prosecutor, defence lawyer and puisne judge in the Supreme Court.

Mr Warner said he would continue to take the bench as a magistrate for another two years after retirement from the senior post, but he was still presiding over cases until just a few months ago.

He and Mr Pettingill first worked together for a short spell in the Attorney-General’s Chambers and they continued to cross paths in the years that followed as both pursued defence lawyer careers in the private sector.

Mr Pettingill recalled: “Archie was doing a lot of interesting work and doing so many jury trials and just winning them continuously.”

Mr Warner later moved to the bench and many consider he played a key role in helping shape Bermuda’s judiciary.

Mr Pettingill told The Royal Gazette: “For me, Archie was one of those magistrates and judges that made you bring your ‘A’ game, which is always good. Just firm but fair, but you had to bring your ‘A’ game or you were going to get short shrift.

“That was certainly helpful to me as a lawyer. Any judge or prosecutor that gets you to do that is significant to your own development.

“I think a lot of junior lawyers probably got a lot out of the fact they had to go in and be top drawer.”

He continued: “He still clearly has the passion and the drive — I’m more concerned about keeping him in check, that he doesn’t try to do too much.

“I think with that depth and wealth of knowledge that he has, not just in the criminal aspect but on administrative and constitutional matters, he has an in-depth knowledge of that area of law and a great love for it so that is significant to bring to a practice like ours.”

Mr Pettingill’s recent work has included representing Roderick Ferguson in the landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal that made same-sex marriage legal again, upholding an earlier decision by former Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, who struck down parts of the Domestic Partnership Act.

He described co-workers Mathew Kelly and Katie Richards as among the island’s top real estate, conveyancing and matrimonial lawyers respectively.

Mr Warner was honoured by his court colleagues when he stood down from his senior role in October 2014.

His successor, Juan Wolffe, said at the time that the esteemed magistrate had “presided over the vast majority of the most serious, complex and complicated legal matters that have come before any of the courts since his appointment” and also helped shepherd the courts through legal reform.

Mr Warner said last week: “Having now retired from the ‘bench’, it is my intention to continue to contribute to the legal profession in Bermuda.

“Law is my passion, and working with Mark Pettingill at Chancery Legal, a progressive law chambers, would be like the old days when we practised together at the criminal bar.”