Obituary: Daniel Messenger


Our friend and colleague, Dan Messenger, died peacefully on the 13th August 2022, following a diagnosis of a terminal illness last year. His diagnosis and death were a huge shock to us all and he is greatly missed in chambers and in the local courts in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and further afield. Dan died much too young. His wife, Laura, was with him when he died, and Dan also left a young son, Francis, who was just a year and a half old. Dan was incredibly proud of Francis and many local practitioners will have seen the photographs of him as a young baby which Dan loved to share.

Dan was a talented musician and studied music at Dartington Arts School before going to the University of Essex, where he studied Law and Politics. He qualified as a barrister and was awarded a Fox Scholarship from Middle Temple, which enabled him to gain experience in a law firm in Toronto. Dan completed pupillage in East Anglia Chambers and then became a tenant at Regency Chambers. He moved to Fenners Chambers in 2014 and practiced there until September 2021 when he became ill.

Dan was a very able and committed family barrister and was well thought of by solicitors, barristers and the judiciary. He was regularly instructed in complex care proceedings, was an active member of the FLBA and also contributed to the training programme organised by the Cambridgeshire Local Family Justice Board. Dan was not only respected, though, he was also popular. Everyone liked working with him. He worked hard and fought for his clients, but he always had time for a quick chat with his colleagues, too, and he was a lot of fun.

As one barrister from another chambers has put it: a nicer opposing counsel you could not possibly wish to meet. Local solicitors have said they will miss Dan’s brilliant sense of humour. In chambers he was supportive of his colleagues and always ready to share his experiences and knowledge with more junior members of the team. Several of his colleagues also became close friends.

Dan was so full of life, so enthusiastic about everything he was involved in. His interests were wide ranging. Food, films, travel, to mention just a few of them, and he loved to share his enthusiasms, swapping recommendations for films, books and restaurants. A few years before he became ill, he took a sabbatical to go traveling with Laura. Dan had already travelled widely but wanted to share the experience with his wife. Following the birth of his son, his greatest enthusiasm was, of course, reserved for his son.

A few weeks after Dan died there was an informal gathering of family, friends and colleagues on a Sunday in a local park in Cambridgeshire (Wandlebury), which Dan had often visited with Laura, Francis and their dog. It seemed such a fitting tribute to Dan, a celebration of his life, with children and dogs charging around, and it said so much about Dan that so many of us, social workers and guardians as well as barristers and solicitors, came to share a toast.

A memorial for Dan was held at Temple Church on Tuesday 8th November. Fenners Chambers will be organising a memorial for Dan in Cambridge shortly, details to be circulated.

Debra Gold | Fenners Chambers