David Harter, who died last week age 85, co- founded Harter and Loveless in September 1985 (in fact, I have only just discovered his copy letter to Mr Quill of The Cleansing Department at Islington Council of July 1986 complaining that, whilst the firm had paid their refuse removal charges promptly and in advance, their weekly rubbish collection was wholly dependent upon his prevailing upon a passing dustcart driver to empty the bins.
The humorous tone throughout was then followed by a forthright, threat to sue the Local Authority for breach of contract).
David had begun his legal career at the Bar and developed a busy practice in several disciplines including Planning Law which would stand him in good stead in his later work within the Coin Street Action Group and as a consultant to Islington Council as the Channel Tunnel Rail legislation made its way through Parliament. His involvement with the Coin Street Community, under the leadership of his great friend Iain Tuckett, continued for many years as a Trustee of the organisation.
David was admitted as a Solicitor in 1972 and became involved in the nascent Law Centre movement which he so admired. His liking for an intellectual challenge ensured a comprehensive knowledge of Housing and Family Law and he embraced the ethos of making representation available to those sections of society who would otherwise be disenfranchised.
By the late 1980’s David and Huw Jones had built a very successful criminal practice at Harter and Loveless. I had to develop a thick skin in later years when attending at local police stations and courts to be told by clients time and time again “You’re not David.”
When I joined Harter and Loveless in 2000, David was working as a freelance Solicitor elsewhere. I sounded David out about a return to the H&L fold. One trepidatious meeting with him later and I had a partner in crime. I always suspected that his acquiescence was, in part, because he would always have the footballing bragging rights.
David was synonymous with The Cally. A walk from the office to his home in Thornhill Square would be interrupted by representatives from local interest groups, shop owners and neighbours. He was regarded as something of a local enabler and he took up their various causes with his usual enthusiasm. He was a champion of his community albeit it in an understated and low key fashion.
The early 2000’s saw the expansion of H&L as we occupied both 398 and 325 Caledonian Road. Throughout, David was a much valued colleague. In 2003 Patricia, Gordon Johnston and I set up Harter’s at 398 concentrating on Family and Criminal work. David appreciated the retention of his name as we left the original practice. We appreciated his loyalty, friendship and continued engagement with us.
David’s strong sense of fairness and justice fuelled his desire to do right by his clients . His facility with young and old, dangerous and feeble, friendly and bad-tempered made him the advocate of choice for clients.
In March 2016 David celebrated his 80th birthday and in April 2016 spent his final day on his feet at Highbury securing the release of his three clients after which he had his usual lunch at The Trevi.
Having reconciled himself to retirement, David maintained a keen interest in the world at large but particularly enjoyed the company of his family and friends. A move to London Fields in 2018 took him closer to a couple of his sons and their families and he had the immense good fortune to spend his final years at home with his beloved Caryl.
What a great man; he had an appetite for life with all its maddening ebbs and flows. I was privileged to have known him as a colleague but also as a close friend. His good humour, unfailing common sense and kindness combined with a ferocious intelligence and ease with the world set him apart.
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