Blackstone Chambers is singled out for its civil liberties practice and is described as the 'go-to set for human rights issues'. Members are frequently instructed on complex and high-profile matters of national importance covering public law, terror legislation, privacy, and EU law. Recent engagements include Ben Jaffey QC and Paul Luckhurst acting for the claimants in R (Hoareau & Bancoult) v SSFCA pertaining to the right of return of Chagossian people to British Indian Ocean Territory; preeminent silk and 'Treasury Devil' James Eadie QC acted for the defendant. Elsewhere, Timothy Otty QC acted in Orozco and Others v Attorney General of Belize, challenging the criminalization of homosexuality in Belize. Other of note include 'brilliant' Hanif Mussa who has strength across human rights and international law, and Jason Pobjoy. David Pievsky took silk in 2020. Recently appointed president of Magdalen College, Oxford, Dinah Rose QC remains the distinguished silk in the set along with crossbench peer Lord David Pannick QC. In recent news, Charlotte Kilroy QC joined the set from Doughty Street Chambers.
Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police) in London Bar
'On top of its game', Matrix Chambers is an 'influential and high-calibre' civil liberties set with a strong reputation acting in public law, unlawful detention, human trafficking, and international human rights matters. Standout silk Phillippa Kaufmann QC acted in a successful challenge against the Metropolitan Police's use of section 14 Public Order Act against Extinction Rebellion protesters in London, as well as acting for End Violence Against Women in a judicial review of the DPP's reduced prosecution rate for rape. Richard Hermer QC is the key name for leading claimant teams in international human rights cases and, alongside Edward Craven, is representing Maha Elgizouli in her challenge against the Home Secretary's decision to aid the United States in the trial of her sons 'The ISIS Beatles' which may result in the death penalty. Samantha Knights QC is also of note as is dual-qualified Raj Desai who clients describe as being 'exceptionally thorough.'
Doughty Street Chambers is considered the 'preeminent set when it comes to the assertion and advancement of human rights' and has an 'excellent' reputation in civil liberties and human rights; particularly in the area of extradition, international law and actions against the state, and is, according to some, 'an impressive chambers with highly intelligent, and politically savvy barristers'. Recent instructions include Edward Fitzgerald QC and Jennifer Robinson representing Julian Assange in his fight against extradition to the United States, whilst Heather Williams QC continues to be engaged in the Undercover Policing Inquiry. 'Fantastic junior' Jude Bunting has an extensive public and police law interface to civil liberties work and acted in a Supreme Court test case pertaining to bail conditions and whether it requires a person to stay indoors throughout the night. Other members of note include Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC who is one of three silks acting in The Hillsborough Victims Litigation. In recent news that has further strengthened the set, Leonie Hirst has joined chambers, along with Maya Sikand and Shu Shin Luh from Garden Court Chambers.
Garden Court Chambers is a 'fantastic set with barristers committed to the rights of individuals and civil liberties', and is singled out as a 'go-to' for its specialism in complex inquests and actions against the police. Noted for his death in custody work, Leslie Thomas QC is a key member of the set and is currently lead counsel on the Inquest into the death of Mohammed Yassar Yaqub, who was shot by police officers on the M62 motorway. Other members of note include 'exceptional' Una Morris and 'standout practitioner' Rajeev Thacker. Stephen Simblet took silk in 2020, strengthening chambers at the senior end.
11KBW is an 'excellent set with very proactive and high-powered silks' who are frequently engaged in civil liberties matters pertaining to immigration, social care, and detention. Leading silk Jason Coppel QC represented the Equality and Human Rights Commission in a Supreme Court appeal concerning the immigration rights of human trafficking victims, as well as acting for NGO Maternity Action in a judicial review challenging the NHS charging regime for disproportionately impacting migrant women. Tom Cross is engaged in a judicial review for the parents of Charlie Hughes who are challenging the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Guidelines over the prescription of cannabis-based medicine to children. 'King of data rights' Christopher Knight is also of note and has expertise across media and privacy law-related human rights claims. Aileen McColgan QC has strengthened the set with her elevation to silk in early 2020.
39 Essex Chambers has an 'unparalleled range of exceptional juniors and leading counsel' and leverages its vast public law expertise to act on complex human rights issues including immigration, right to life, and healthcare-related human rights. Recent instructions include Lisa Giovannetti QC appearing before the Supreme Court in R (AM Zimbabwe) v SSHD concerning the deportation of foreign nationals on the basis of lack of access to health care in their home countries against the ECHR articles. James Strachan QC is the key practitioner in right to die cases on behalf of the government. Other members of note include Vikram Sachdeva QC highlighted for his 'intellectual agility and flair' and 'fearless advocate' Nigel Pleming QC. In recent news, Steve Broach has strengthened the set after joining from Monckton Chambers.
Brick Court Chambers is 'an excellent set with very clever people' with key specialisms across EU law, public law, and handling complex civil liberties claims. Continuing on from his work including Purdy and Nicklinson, Paul Bowen QC is acting in R (Omid T) v Ministry of Justice, a right to assisted death case for an individual with a degenerative neurological condition. He is also representing Anthony Cohen v State of Trinidad and Tobago in an appeal against the murder conviction and a constitutional challenge to the death penalty. Jemima Stratford QC is representing three human rights NGOs in a judicial review on the legality of the UK's arms export to Saudi Arabia which is pending before the Supreme Court. The 'fantastic' Maya Lester QC is also of note as is the 'superb' Lord Anderson of Ipswich KBE QC who remains a distinguished member of chambers. A 'star of her generation', Jennifer MacLeod is 'phenomenally quick, a great team player and a fantastic strategist. She is the full package.' She joins the 'diligent, detail-oriented, and pragmatic' Emma Mockford in the rising stars list.
Landmark Chambers has 'real strength in depth in civil liberties and human rights, and possess a fantastic selection of junior counsel'. Members have a wide practice spinning across social care, public law, and immigration detention. Richard Drabble QC acted in KV (Sri Lanka) v SSHD for the claimant which considered the assessment of medical evidence in asylum claims pertaining to alleged torture. Community care specialist Fiona Scolding QC continues to lead the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and is leading three strands of its investigation including boarding schools and the Anglican Church. In recent news, David Blundell QC took silk in early 2020.
Monckton Chambers is described as a 'progressive and dynamic set, with star quality throughout', with particular emphasis on the intersection of civil liberties and data protection rights, with members frequently engaged in complex data rights claims and public law challenges. In one instance, Ian Wise QC acted in Harry Miller v College of Policing and Humberside Police surrounding the Police's action of a video recording a 'non-crime hate accident' which the High Court concluded disproportionately interfered with the claimant's right of freedom of expression. Elsewhere, Eric Metcalfe acted for the Secretary of State and successfully defended HMP Whitemoor Prison’s decision's use of video link before the Court of Appeal. Also of note, the 'excellent' Nikolaus Grubeck is acting for a consortium of human rights NGOs in a pending Supreme Court challenge to the decision by the Secretary of State for International Trade to continue to export arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia.