Administrative and public law (including elections) in London Bar

The Administrative and Public Law (including Elections) section covers key constitutional issues and generalised matters of public law not covered in other areas of the UK Bar guide (including matters as diverse as social welfare and prison law), as well as law concerning elections to offices in local and national government and their campaigns. This section does not aim to include barristers in specialist areas where judicial review is the appeal from executive or quasi-judicial decision-makers: please note our separate coverage of planning, professional discipline, public procurement, EU law, education, extradition, social housing, and immigration, which will cover counsel familiar with judicial reviews in those arenas. Local government (including rating law) is an additional new section. There is some crossover between this section and our civil liberties and human rights rankings, as arguments concerning the European Convention on Human Rights are frequently raised in such cases in parallel to more traditional arguments based on common law.

Blackstone Chambers

Blackstone Chambers is 'the strongest set at the interface of public law and commercial matters'. Numerous members of chambers were involved in R (Miller) v the Prime Minister and Cherry v Advocate General of Scotland, a combined Supreme Court case concerning the 2019 prorogation of Parliament: Lord David Pannick QC and Tom Hickman QC for Gina Miller, James Eadie QC and Lord Keen of Elie QC (a door tenant) for the government in their respective capacities as Treasury Devil and then-Advocate General for Scotland, and for a diverse range of interveners Thomas de la Mare QC, Tom Cleaver, Daniel Cashman and Celia Rooney plus, prior to his appointment to the High Court bench, Michael Fordham QC. At the same level, Sir James was against Dinah Rose QC, Ben Jaffey QC and Cleaver for the appellants in R (Privacy International) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which found that an "ouster" clause cannot shield said tribunal from judicial review.  In the Court of Appeal, members were instructed on both sides of R (Elan-Cane) v SSHD, concerning Home Office's refusal to issue a passport with the sex field marked as "X" and also issues of cost capping in judicial review proceedings – Kate Gallafent QC for the claimant, Sir James for the government, and Monica Carss-Frisk QC for Human Rights Watch. As a leading junior, Hanif Mussa successfully represented the government in R (Coughlan) v Minister for the Cabinet Office, defeating a challenge to trials of mandatory voter ID in Braintree.


A set with 'real strength and depth across the board, whose members appear in most of the major cases', 11KBW is active across the public law space, with many members of chambers active for defendants represented by the Government Legal Department, as well as other government bodies, quangos, and some claimant work. Members were on both sides of Lincolnshire Police's ultimately unsuccessful challenge to the College of Policing's plan to effectively transform policing into a graduate profession – Jonathan Moffett QC  and Christopher Knight for the College of Policing and Charles Bourne QC (elevated to the High Court as of 1 October 2020) and Aileen McColgan QC (a 2020 silk appointment) for the force. The set is 'one of the leading chambers for dealing with public law issues affecting the health sector': Andrew Sharland QC defeated a challenge to the Royal College of Physicians' neutral stance on assisted dying brought by some of the organisation's members opposed to it. Clive Sheldon QC  successfully represented the government in the Court of Appeal in R (BPAS) v Department of Health concerning the meaning of "the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week" in the Abortion Act 1967. Unled, Jonathan Auburn represented the defendant in R (Leighton) v Lord Chancellor, in which disability activists challenged the lack of qualified one-way costs shifting in discrimination claims. Elizabeth Prochaska, formerly of Matrix Chambers, joined chambers from the role of legal director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

39 Essex Chambers

39 Essex Chambers handles a range of public law matters, with expertise across the arena. The set is comfortable with national security matters, both in the sense that its members handle work for government departments and also as special advocates. In the health space, the set having numerous members kept busy by varied challenges to NHS reorganisations. Jenni Richards QC and Jack Anderson successfully represented the defendant in R (KK) v Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, a judicial review not to refer an IPP prisoner for gender reassignment surgery; the prisoner had been convicted as a man of child pornography offences. Deok Joo Rhee QC represented the shadow attorney general the Cherry prorogation case. Jack Holborn is unled for the Ministry of Justice in a case concerning prisoners who may lack capacity to conduct their Parole Board proceedings, and Tom Tabori is notable for his election law expertise.

Brick Court Chambers

A set 'really building a reputation for taking on complex, high-profile administrative/public law challenge', Brick Court Chambers' members are active across public law, both in the commercial space as well as for respected NGOs and individual claimants. Paul Bowen QC represented the anonymised claimant, a disabled boy who was subjected to sexual abuse in a care home, in R (AB) v CC of Hampshire concerning the force's failure to provide him with a registered witness intermediary while reporting abuse to the police. Crossing over with her sanctions expertise, Maya Lester QC represented a number of Tamil activists in a challenge to the continued proscription of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, better known as the Tamil Tigers. The set's members continue to act for various government bodies; Marie Demetriou QC and Tim Johnston continue to represent Transport for London in litigation concerning Uber's licence to operate in London, while James McClelland, who joined from Fountain Court Chambers, acting for Uber in the same matter.

Matrix Chambers

Known as 'leaders in the field', at Matrix Chambers 'the calibre of barristers at both the senior and the junior ends is exceptional'. David Wolfe QC  represented the Sikh Federation in a challenge to the absence of a Sikh option in the ethnicity field of the 2020 census, a matter involving issues of parliamentary privilege concerning the drafting of an order to be made by the Queen. Nick Armstrong represented the claimant in Mazhar v the Lord Chancellor, in which the Court of Appeal found that the Human Rights Act does not permit a person to seek a declaration from the High Court that the court's own previous order violated convention rights. The set is 'less exclusively claimant focussed' than others, with Sarah Hannett representing unled the Speaker of the House of Commons in a judicial review of plans of the plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, concerning the claimant's attempt to use evidence covered by parliamentary privilege. In election law, Gavin Millar QC successfully defended a challenge to the election of Lisa Forbes in the 2019 Peterborough by-election brought by the losing Brexit Party candidate, who dropped the challenge and was ordered to pay full costs.

Doughty Street Chambers

'In terms of admin and public law' Doughty Street Chambers 'has a wealth of talent'. 'The set is very strong, especially at junior level', with members primarily focusing on work representing individuals. Edward Fitzgerald QC  represented a number of Chagossians, the community displaced in the 1960s and '70s by the construction of the military base on Diego Garcia, in prolonged litigation concerning their potential return; Martin Westgate QC represented the defendant in RB Kingston v Moss, a High Court case concerning the local authority's selling on of watering and sewerage service at a profit. Unled, Jude Bunting represented the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in a Court of Appeal case concerning the meaning of the "exceeded" in the Abortion Act 1967. In the political space, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC  advised Stella Creasy MP on clearing with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority the appointment of a "locum" to cover constituency casework during her maternity leave from the house.

Landmark Chambers

Landmark Chambers has 'good depth of judicial review knowledge across a range of areas', and while not exclusively on the government side is popular for a range of work for different public bodies. The set is known for its 'NHS experts', with members regularly acting for NHS bodies on public law matters: David Lock QC (who brings unusual experience to the table as a former government minister) and 2020 silk appointment David Blundell QC continue to represent 12 clinical commissioning groups in  R (Bayer) v Darlington CCG, a dispute with two pharmaceutical companies over the prescription of Avastin. In Antoniadis v Administrator of the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Samantha Broadfoot QC represented the defendant body in a challenge to the British Overseas Territory's imposition of pay cuts on public sector workers. In election law, Tim Buley QC represented the claimant in R (Andrews) v Minister for the Cabinet Office, and a follow-on claim concerning the government's failure to bring in arrangements for blind voters to cast ballots in the December 2019 general election.

Monckton Chambers

'Well-known for its expertise and strength in public and administration law', Members of Monckton Chambers act for a range of parties crossing over with its expertise in European Union and competition law. Ian Wise QC represented the claimants in R (DA) v SSWP, a challenge to the benefit cap with issues about the court considering parliamentary materials, and R (Miller) v College of Policing, in which the High Court found that College of Policing guidance around "non-crime hate incidents" was unlawful. The set handles some government work too, with a number of members on panels for such work: Ben Lask represents the Department for International Trade in a challenge brought by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights to a regime permitting the import of cotton from Uzbekistan, which historically was significantly produced using forced labour.

1 Crown Office Row

1 Crown Office Row 'has a really top-end admin and public law practice with some excellent practitioners'. Philip Havers QC represented former racing driver Simon Dolan in his challenge to various secondary legislation implementing the United Kingdom's "lockdown" measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. The set is 'great for healthcare-related judicial review'; Jeremy Hyam QC is instructed in R (Evans) v Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust, concerning the trust's prescription of puberty blockers to children suffering gender dysphoria. In the national security space, Angus Mccullough QC was the special advocate for the claimants in R (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) v Secretary of State for International Trade, the case concerning the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.

4-5 Gray's Inn Square

4-5 Gray's Inn Square 'has true and unparalleled expertise in the very niche area' of election law, with a number of members active in key cases. Timothy Straker QC was involved in a number of matters concerning the election expense issues of various pro-Brexit groups co-operating prior to the referendum: in one, he successfully represented Darren Grimes in a judicial review of the Electoral Commission's decision to issue with him a £20,000 fine for election expenses matters concerning that referendum, and Vote Leave in a separate appeal brought by the Good Law Project concerning the categorisation of donations to other organisations as election expenses. Richard Price OBE QC and Vivienne Sedgley have both advised the Conservative Party on a number of matters.

Cornerstone Barristers

Members of Cornerstone Barristers are 'experts in judicial review because of the broad local government practices that many barristers have', and also handles a broader range of public law work away from its local government connections, such as election law. Philip Coppel QC represented the Electoral Commission in defending judicial reviews concerning alleged breaches of spending rules on the part of Vote Leave and Darren Grimes – the first brought by the Good Law Project (an organisation founded by Jolyon Maugham QC) concerning the commission's decision not to launch an investigation; the second brought by Grimes and Vote Leave, concerning the commission's decision to announce its investigation.