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United Kingdom > London Bar > Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Index of tables

  1. Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police) - Leading sets
  2. Leading Silks
  3. 2018 Silks
  4. 2019 Silks
  5. Leading Juniors

Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police) - Leading sets

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Leading Silks

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2018 Silks

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2019 Silks

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Leading Juniors

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When it comes to civil liberties and human rights work Blackstone Chambers has a 'deserved reputation as the best in the business’ with many of its members involved in high-profile and precedent-setting cases. Recent instructions for the 'first-class set' include Michael Fordham QC appearing before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to represent clients in Chong & Others v United Kingdom. The case addressed whether there is an obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), or customary international law, to undertake a further inquiry into the 1948 killing of 24 men by British soldiers in Batang Kali, Selangor, now part of Malaysia but at the time part of the British Empire. Elsewhere, Ben Jaffey QC and Thomas de la Mare QC are acting for Privacy International in its challenge to the government's telecommunications interception; 'Treasure Devil' James Eadie QC acted for the defendant. Also of note, Shaheed Fatima QC is heading up the legal panel in the Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict and, alongside Hanif Mussa, is acting for mining company Xstrata pertaining to whether the firm can be liable for human rights infringements by a foreign state. 'Distinguished silkDinah Rose QC led the legal team challenging Cambridge Analytica over the alleged misuse of personal data belonging to more than 71 million people, while Timothy Otty QC is noted for his expertise on sanctions law. Pushpinder Saini QC will join the High Court's Queen’s Bench Division on 1 October 2019.

For some, Matrix Chambers is 'the best set for human rights' work with its members representing an array of clients including NGO's and companies on public law, immigration, detention, and data protection matters. The 'standoutPhillippa Kaufmann QC acted for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants in its judicial review of the government’s hostile environment policy, specifically, the Immigration Act 2013 which obliges private landlords to take measures to ensure those whom they rent to are legal immigrants. In a separate case, Kaufmann QC acted in a judicial review brought against the Director of Public Prosecutions for refusing to prosecute an undercover police officer who had a relationship with an environmental protester he was deployed to spy on. In proceedings before the Privy Council, Tim Owen QC acted for Jay Chandler in bringing an appeal against his murder conviction and death sentence in Trinidad & Tobago. The case raised an important issue on the admissibility of fresh evidence in criminal appeals, specifically in relation to the defence of diminished responsibility. Meanwhile, in ZV v Secretary of State for the Home DepartmentSamantha Knights QC acted for a Lithuanian national trafficked into prostitution in the UK. A case concerned the interface between EU refugee law and trafficking, and unlawful detention of victims of trafficking in immigration detention. International crime specialist Clare Montgomery QC is leading the team instructed in Belhaj v DPP concerning the judicial review of the police decision not to prosecute security service personnel over the rendition of asylum seekers to Libya. Meanwhile, in the Supreme Court, Daniel Squires QC represented the Secretary of State for Education in a challenge brought by an opposite-sex couple challenging the bar on their entering a civil partnership; the court held that the bar was unlawful. Elsewhere, Helen Law was lead counsel for the claimant in R (Bridges) v South Wales Police, the first test case on the use of automatic facial recognition software by the police, and its interference with Articles 8, 10, and 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998, as well as breach of the data protection law.

Doughty Street Chambers is known for its 'excellence in bringing claims against the police and in the inquest field' and has vast expertise in immigration, extradition, and claims against the state. Recent instructions of note for members include Heather Williams QC representing clients in McGlone & Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, which concerns the role of the police in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. She has also been instrumental in the Undercover Police Inquiry, undertaking considerable advisory work for the core participants which include Neville Lawrence and six victims of deceptive sexual relationships initiated by undercover officers. Edward Fitzgerald QC is acting for Maha El Gizouli, the mother of one of the 'IS Beatles', El Shafee Elsheikh, in her application for a judicial review into the Home Secretary's decision to cooperate with the US authorities and assurances that her son won't be subject to the death penalty. Others members of note include Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, who acted for Just for Kids Law in a test case concerning the use of children as ‘covert human intelligence sources’ by the police in R (Just for Kids Law) v Secretary of State for the Home DepartmentStephen Cragg QC who acted in Miah v Independent Police Complaint Commission challenging the use of illegal stops at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act 2010; and ‘standout junior’ Adam Wagner who acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in AB, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Justice regarding the prolonged detention of a minor in solitary confinement.

Garden Court Chambers is one of the 'leading human rights sets' with its members securing numerous victories for clients in domestic, pan-European, and international courts. The head of the set's human rights team, Maya Sikand, is sole counsel to former police officer and whistleblower Peter Francis in the Undercover Policing Inquiry and was also instructed in Maria Carter (aka Maria Litvinenko) v the Government of Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for breaches of the claimant's Article 2 and 3 rights. Leslie Thomas QC is currently acting in a judicial review into the decision of the First Minister to control the ambit of the Inquiry into Welsh Assembly Member Carl Sargeant's death, as well as representing families in the Grenfell inquiry. Others members of note include Joanne Cecil whose practice focuses on the intersection between criminal and civil law, and Stephanie Harrison QC is known for her immigration-related human rights work.

At 11KBW, members act for a  range of clients including leading human rights organisations across all legal contexts such as immigration, detention, and mental health. Jason Coppel QC represented Gulf Centre for Human Rights in the High Court in R (Gulf Centre for Human Rights) v Prime Minister , where the NGO challenged an omission in the ministerial code on UK Ministers' duty to comply with international law. Jonathan Moffett QC represented the government in a challenge to the law on criminal records certificates, and represented the government in Gaughran v United Kingdom on the indefinite retention of DNA profiles. Also of note, Karen Steyn QC was instructed on behalf of Liberty in DSD and NBV v the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis which defined the human rights obligations police are subject to when they are investigating a crime. Steyn QC has been elevated to the High Court and will sit in the Queen’s Bench Division on 1 October 2019.

39 Essex Chambers is a 'strong government and claimant practice' with its members using their significant public law expertise to regularly act in judicial review claims on human rights issues. Recent instructions include Nigel Pleming QC acting in Core Issues Trust v Transport for London surrounding the use of advertising space which may cause offence and the right of corporate bodies to control access. Elsewhere, Lisa Giovannetti QC is acting in  R (W2 & IA) v SSHD, a SIAC Court of Appeal case regarding the deprivation of British citizenship on the basis of national security reasons, as well as drafting the UK response to the European Court of on Human Rights in Ndidi v UK, a case concerning a deportation matter of an applicant with a history of drug offences. Also of note are Vikram Sachdeva QC for his niche expertise in medical human rights, and James Strachan QC who acted for the government in R (Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice which saw a challenge to the ban on assisted dying following the Supreme Court’s early decision in Nicklinson. Alison Foster QC has joined the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.

Brick Court Chambers is an 'excellent set with strength in depth' with many of its members involved in high-profile and often complex civil liberties and human rights claims. Maya Lester QC has a specialism in sanction law and also undertakes considerable public interest litigation work surrounding civil liberties. Paul Bowen QC is currently leading the independent inquiry into the death of Welsh politician Carl Sargeant and is instructed in an Article 2 right to life matter in the High Court. David Anderson QC remains a preeminent barrister in this area, having been the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation between 2011 and 2017. Martin Chamberlain QC (soon to join the High Court) acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in KO (Nigeria) v Home Secretary which challenged a deportation order on the grounds that it would breach the Article 8 rights of the deportee’s British child; he also appeared in the Supreme Court for the police pertaining to the use of closed material in applications for warrants in Haralambous v Chief Constable of Hertfordshire .

Landmark Chambers is a 'premier set with excellent barristers'. Fiona Scolding QC is the lead counsel in the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s Application for Judicial Review which saw a legal challenge to the nation's abortion legislation; she also acted in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and represented the Department for Work and Pensions in the Court of Appeal over the rights of EU nationals to claim sickness benefits. New silk Tim Buley QC acted in R (DS and ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on a legal challenge to the benefit cap, on the basis, it discriminates against women, single parents, and their children. Also of note, Stephen Knafler QC acted in Evans v Alder Hey on the lawfulness of a hospital to withdraw life-sustaining treatment to a child despite the parents making arrangements that didn’t require hospital involvement.

Monckton Chambers' members 'work to a very high standard and with incredible dedication' to the clients they serve, according to instructing solicitors. Members undertake a breadth of human rights instructions, including the right to a fair trial, data protection, immigration, and asylum. Ben Emmerson QC has a vast international practice representing heads of states and foreign governments, and is an accomplished European human rights expert having litigated before international courts. Also of note, Eric Metcalfe was recently instructed by the Information Commissioner in Liberty’s challenge to the use of facial recognition cameras in public spaces.

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