Called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1971, David Wolchover did his pupillage at Cloisters, the famous set then headed by John Platts-Mills QC, the radical silk and one-time maverick Labour M.P. A founding member of the chambers of Sibghat Kadri (later QC) at 11 King's Bench Walk, Inner Temple, when it was set up in 1973 he remained with Kadri until moving to the chambers of Ivor Richard QC at 11 South Square, Gray's Inn, in 1988. He was a founding member of Lion Court when that was set up by Steven Jacobs and after a short spell as a sole practitioner during which period he cared for his infirm parents he accepted an invitation in 1999 to return to Lion Court as Head of Chambers.
In the following years he presided over the move to 7 Bell Yard, the change of name, the purchase of the building and the continued expansion and development of chambers. This culminated in a substantial increase in membership at the turn of the year 2006\2007 when he offered a nominal co-Headship to Christopher van Hagen, one of the new intake. However, on turning sixty in 2007 he decided to leave full-time practice and announced his intention to retire from leadership of chambers as and when the necessary legal and financial arrangements could be agreed. Unfortunately, a long-standing delay in implementing their resolution has left him with retention of de jure proprietorial control of chambers with the result that the 2008 unilateral assumption of Headship remains formally non-ratified in plenum . Steps are currently in hand to finalise the transfer of control. In the meantime, David remains in part-time practice and now enjoys Dual Capacity status.
David Wolchover has always specialised in crime. Although his attitude on law reform is progressive, not to say in many respects radical, he is an ardent supporter of the independent Bar and the traditional system of barristers undertaking both prosecution and defence work. Like many of his generation, he only defends although he has absolutely nothing against prosecuting. It is just that he feels more comfortable in defence. It was the same when he played for his school First Eleven
football team. "It's probably something deep-rooted in my psyche. It's the challenge of facing an attack by superior forces." In his sixties he is content to remain a humble junior - "not that I have much of a choice in the matter" - but he does think there is something rather silly about labelling a man of his age a "junior". Like an ageing thespian, he says, still aspiring to take on romantic leads. But he is no stranger to "top barristers' work," having led in murder and having defended in the Britannia Park trial, at one time the longest criminal trial in English legal history ("I attribute the length -18 months- to the prolixity of others," he says modestly). David is one of those few barristers who has managed to span the sometimes difficult divide between the rough-and-tumble of practitioner life at the coal face of criminal justice and the contemplative pursuit of academic writing, a task perhaps made easier in his case by the lack of affiliation to any academic institution. In his time he has contributed a host of learned articles on criminal evidence and procedure to a variety of law journals, as well as finding time to produce a number of full length treatises. He is sole author of The Exclusion of Improperly Obtained Evidence (Barry Rose Publishers, 1986), lead author of Wolchover and Heaton-Armstrong on Confession Evidence (Sweet & Maxwell 1996), co-author with Neil Corre of Bail in Criminal Proceedings (2nd ed, Blackstone Press, 1999; 3rd ed, Oxford University Press 2004), contributing co-editor of Analysing Witness Testimony (Blackstone Press, 1999), sole author of Silence and Guilt: An assessment of case law on the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (Lion Court Lawyers, 2001)
and contributing co-editor of Witness Testimony: Psychological, Investigative and Evidential Perspectives (Oxford: OUP, 2006). An acknowledged expert on PACE, he has been instrumental through direct representation and through his writing in securing a number of important improvements to the Codes of Practice. He says that his proudest achievement is having co-authored the first detailed critique (in the New Law Journal ) of the Government's proposal to curtail the right to jury trial, the arguments in which were widely adopted ("without attribution needless to say," he says, wearily).
David still retains his sole practice address at Ridgeway Chambers, 6 The Ridgeway, Golders Green, London NW11 8TB, Telephone 020 8455 2939.
David is available for all levels of criminal defence briefs commensurate with his experience and call.