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Doughty Street Chambers

Work 020 7404 1313
Fax 020 7404 2283
Bristol, London, Manchester

Ulele Burnham

Work 020 7404 1313
Doughty Street Chambers (Doughty Street Chambers)


Ulele Burnham specialises in equality law, human rights law and the law relating to mental capacity and mental health. Her work spans both public and private law actions and involves challenges pertaining to: the exercise of public and private functions by bodies concerned with the provision of employment and non-employment services; and the exercise of public and private functions by bodies responsible for mental health care, treatment, detention, and after care services and the care, detention, and treatment of legally incapacitated persons. Her predominantly claimant-focussed practice in equality law has encompassed challenges based upon all of the grounds proscribed by the Equality Act 2010 and upon the public sector equality duties. She receives regular instructions from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and has advised the predecessor commission (CRE) on a range of issues including the enforcement of the law relating to discriminatory advertisements and discrimination by membership associations. In the field of mental health and mental capacity related law, she is regularly instructed in complex cases in the Court of Protection, and the Administrative Court, pertaining to the detention, care and treatment of mentally incapacitated or disordered persons. Recent cases include: JM v UK, Appln. No. 37060/06: violations of Article 14 and 1P1 where lesbian parent treated differently from heterosexual parents in the context of the child maintenance and support regime, junior counsel, also appeared in the House of Lords and the Court of Appeal); A & ors v UK. Appln. No. 3455/05: settling damages claims on behalf of the ‘Belmarsh Detainees’, instructed by Birnberg Pierce, for their application to the ECtHR in which violations of Article 5 ECHR were found and awards of damages made (junior counsel ); R(Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre & anor v The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, CO/1143/2007 (intervention on behalf of CRE; whether the NHM was in breach of its public duty to promote good race relations in approach adopted to the return of aboriginal remains in its custod); R(BSL/SAL) v Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs & Lord Chancellor & anor, CO/3335/2007 (Junior counsel instructed by the CRE to intervene on the question of whether, in failing to take proper account of the disparate impact upon black and ethnic minority firms and practitioners, the proposal to reform legal aid provision in criminal cases contravened the race equality duties of the relevant public authorities; Claim withdrawn by Claimants on terms); Johnson v UK (1999) EHRR 296 (Junior counsel instructed by Applicant in application to ECtHR in relation to compliance of conditional discharge regime under MHA with Article 5 ECHR); R(B) v Ashworth HA and another [2005] UKHL 20 (HL) (Junior counsel instructed on behalf of Ashworth Hospital. HL found that treatment of detained patients for non-classified mental disorders permissible under the MHA.).


Called 1997; Inner Temple. Part-time lectureships in introduction to labour Law at the London School of Economics (2001-06) and in politics at Queen Mary and Westfield College (1995). Publications of note: chapter on the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Socio Economic Duty in the ‘Blackstone’s Guide to the Equality Act 2010’ (2010); co-author of ‘Butterworths New Law Guide to the Mental Capacity Act 2005’ and was responsible for writing the chapters on the new deprivation of liberty safeguards (DOLS) regime and the complex interaction of the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Mental Health Act 1983.


Discrimination Law Association (chair).


Bishops High School and Queens College, Georgetown, Guyana; University of Sussex (BA, international relations; Dip, law, commendation); University of Cambridge (Mphil, international relations).


Squash, cycling, reading.

London Bar

Court of Protection and community care

Within: Court of Protection and community care – Leading juniors

Ulele Burnham - Doughty Street ChambersRemains calm under pressure.

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