Administrative and public law (including local government) in London Bar
The Administrative and Public Law (including Local Government) section covers key constitutional issues and generalised matters of public law not covered in other areas of the UK Bar guide, as well as specific issues concerning national and local government, including election law, council governance, and business rates. 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. This section does not aim to include barristers in specialist areas where judicial review is the appeal from executive decision-makers. Please note our separate coverage of planning, professional discipline, public procurement, EU law, education, extradition, social housing, and immigration.
Blackstone Chambers 'remains the top chambers for public law' with a roster of 'intellectual heavyweights' instructed by government bodies and claimants. Chief among these is James Eadie QC, who as the Treasury Devil exclusively represents the government in its most high-profile cases: he, Kate Gallafent QC, and Naina Patel represented different government departments in R (P, G and W) v Secretary of State for Justice and Secretary of State for the Home Department, a case which concerned the compatibility of the criminal records disclosure system with the European Convention on Human Rights. In R (Gallaher Group) v Competitions and Markets Authority, Lord David Pannick QC and Hanif Mussa represented the tobacco company, with Jessica Boyd acting for co-claimant The Co-operative Group, in which the Supreme Court rejected the concept that duties of substantive fairness or equal treatment existed. Also of note, Dinah Rose QC and Jason Pobjoy represented the Law Society in its judicial review of the 2017 cuts to criminal legal aid. David Pievsky and David Lowe represented the Home Office in the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants' challenge to the "right to rent" scheme, which mandates private landlords check the immigration status of potential tenants. Nathalie Lieven QC was appointed to the High Court bench in December 2018 with Pushpinder Saini QC set to join the Queen’s Bench Division on 1 October 2019.
11KBW handles impressive work for both national government and local authorities, 'covering a range of public sector work which is hard to find elsewhere'. Andrew Sharland QC, a 2018 silk appointment, represented the local authority in R (Jewish Human Rights Watch) v Leicester City Council, over a decision by the city council to boycott products from Israeli-occupied parts of the West Bank; the Court of Appeal held the decision violated the public sector equality duty. Also for local government, Jonathan Moffett QC defeated a challenge to NHS England's recommendation to GPs to terminate the prescription of homeopathic products, and also represented the Welsh government in defeating a challenge to the committal to prison of council tax defaulters. Among the juniors, Julian Blake, as sole counsel, represented the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in UK litigation concerning a request for the examination of Christopher Steele in Floridian defamation proceedings relating to the release of his infamous Trump dossier. Former Treasury Devil Jonathan Swift QC was appointed to the High Court in October 2018 and is soon to be followed by Karen Steyn QC who will join the Queen’s Bench Division on 1 October 2019.
'Full of able barristers', 39 Essex Chambers is 'a go-to set for public law matters in the healthcare field', as well as issues across public services and the welfare state. Jenni Richards QC represented a claimant in a High Court case concerning the Universal Credit system of calculating monthly income mismatching with their employers' end-of-month payroll. Kate Grange QC represented various government departments as interested parties in the R (Privacy International) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a case concerning an "ouster" clause purporting to shield decisions of the IPT from judicial review. Katherine Apps, unled, acts for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions against a claim brought by an unmarried woman who was turned down for widowed parents' allowance and bereavement payments. Alison Foster QC has been appointed to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.
Brick Court Chambers is 'an extremely impressive set in public and administrative law with both high-quality silks, and intelligent, committed juniors, who can all turn their hand to almost anything'. The set includes a number of government panelists, with national security a notable area of expertise, and has also been particularly active in matters for claimants, ranging from pharmaceutical companies to major NGOs. Martin Chamberlain QC (soon to join the Queen’s Bench Division in October 2019) represented the Campaign Against the Arms Trade in a successful Court of Appeal case concerning the government's grant of export licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in the civil war in Yemen; Jemima Stratford QC represented interveners Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Paul Bowen QC represents the Cayman government in a judicial review of a decision to transfer two men serving life sentences for murder to serve their sentences in HMP Belmarsh in London. 2019 silk promotion Victoria Wakefield QC represented the Lord Chancellor in defeating a claim from the Institution of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, which attempted to enter the market as a regulator of legal services.
For some 'the best set for public law and human rights', Matrix Chambers has members instructed, both for government and claimants, in agenda-setting matters. Phillippa Kaufmann QC represented two victims of "Black Cab rapist" John Worboys in a challenge to the Parole Board's decision to release him after serving ten years of an indefinite sentence for public protection – Daniel Squires QC represented the Mayor of London. Karon Monaghan QC represented a gay Hong Kong civil servant, who married his husband in New Zealand, in a challenge to the Hong Kong government's policy of denying same-sex spouses employee benefits. In the Court of Appeal, Claire Darwin, unled, represented the University of Leicester in judicial review proceedings following its disciplinary decision to expel a student who sent a threatening message and Taken meme via Facebook to a classmate.
Doughty Street Chambers handles various public law matters, frequently crossing over with its other areas of expertise where it acts for individuals against the state. Edward Fitzgerald QC represented a Grenadian revolutionary convicted of murder after the Grenadian Bar rejected his application to practice law due to a failure to meet its "good character" requirement. Among the juniors, Jude Bunting represented Michael Segalov, a left-wing commentator and Labour Party activist, in a challenge to Sussex Police's decision to refuse him accreditation to attend the 2017 Labour Party conference; in court proceedings it transpired that this was based on his reporting.
'An excellent set with a wide range of expertise', Landmark Chambers covers a diverse range of public law, representing claimants, national government, and quangos among others. David Lock QC represented numerous NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, defeating a challenge brought by Bayer and Novartis to their use of a drug made by Roche off-label to treat "wet AMD". In the Caribbean, Richard Drabble QC represented the claimant in Jones v Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, a successful challenge to the island nation's colonial-era "buggery law". Among the set's junior ranks, David Blundell represented the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in a human rights challenge to the jurisdiction's near-total ban on abortion, with a key question being the commission's standing to bring the claim. Declan O'Callaghan was appointed as a judge of the First Tier Tribunal in 2018.
While Monckton Chambers 'is known for its EU and competition law expertise, it evidently has barristers who can turn their hand to more esoteric public law challenges'. Ian Wise QC represented claimants in a challenge to the lawfulness of the "benefits cap" on the basis that it discriminates against single parents with children under two years old, while Robert Palmer QC – a 2019 silk appointment – represented the campaign group in R (Jewish Human Rights Watch) v Leicester City Council, which brought a challenge to the local authority's decision in support of boycotts of products from the occupied West Bank. In the High Court, Brendan McGurk represented the government in a case concerning if, in judicial review proceedings concerning the Gender Recognition Panel, the court was able to issue gender recognition certificates itself rather than remit matters back to the panel.
1 CROWN OFFICE ROW includes a number of members who have experience of acting as special advocates. Angus Mccullough QC was the Campaign Against the Arms Trade's special advocate in its challenge to the government's authorisation of the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. Also of note, Oliver Sanders QC represented the government in a Court of Appeal case concerning the Prevent policy's guidance to universities on external speakers.
Cornerstone Barristers has members active in matters concerning local and national democracy. Following the murder of Jo Cox MP, Philip Coppel QC defeated a challenge from the English Democrats over the Electoral Commission's decision to remove "Fighting for England!", one of the fringe right-wing party's registered descriptions. Matthew Lewin acted as an independent investigator for Durham County Council's standards committee after a town mayor was allegedly so inebriated at an event to commemorate the centenary of the conclusion of the First World War that he was stopped from lighting a memorial beacon as a safety risk.
Known for its planning expertise, Francis Taylor Building handles a range of work concerning local government, including business rates. Sarah Sackman represented a claimant from Braintree in a judicial review of the pilot of voter identification requirements in certain parts of England in the 2019 local elections.