Masters of the Bench
Miss Diana Cotton QC
Full Title: Miss Diana Cotton QCCategory: Ordinary Bencher
Bench Call Date: 22.11.1990
Call Date: 23.6.1964
At age 15, Diana Cotton was told that women could not practise successfully as barristers and that if she wanted to be a lawyer, she would have to be a solicitor.
Ignoring this advice, she spent the year after graduating from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford teaching Law and working for her Bar Finals. The Middle Temple awarded her a Harmsworth Entrance Exhibition; in 1964 it awarded her a Blackstone Pupillage Prize and later, a Harmsworth Scholarship.
Diana had no contacts at the Bar, and it was only through an indirect introduction that she secured a pupillage with Peter Weitzman at 10 King’s Bench Walk. She obtained a tenancy, and remained at those Chambers throughout her career.
Initially, she had a general common law practice, doing everything that came her way, but by the early 1970s she began to specialise in personal injury work. In 1973 she was appointed to the Thalidomide Panel, which assessed damages for the affected children. In addition to personal injury and industrial disease cases, she did some medical negligence and some employment law work.
In 1983 Diana took Silk, and her practice became more diverse; she undertook some high-profile sex abuse cases in addition to her usual civil practice. In 1982, she was made a Recorder and in 1993 was approved to sit as a Deputy High Court Judge.
In 1989, she was appointed to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and continued as a legal member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel.
She was a legally qualified President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for restricted patients, and in 2000 was appointed an Assistant Boundary Commissioner. She also served as Vice-Chair of the Bar Council’s Professional Conduct Committee.
Diana was elected to the Bench of the Middle Temple in 1990.
In 1966 she married Richard Allan, a chartered accountant, and they had two sons and a daughter. Determined as she was to pursue her career at the Bar, her Chambers’ joke that she had all her babies in the Long Vacation was not wholly accurate!