'An impressive chambers for inquests and inquiries', 1 Crown Office Row 'has an extensive skill set and wide-ranging level of counsels'. The clerks also draw praise for being 'extremely sensible both in terms of fees, capacity and the experience of their counsel – there are no better clerks'. Peter Skelton QC is consistently instructed in major inquiries and inquests; examples include the 1974 Birmingham Pub Bombings and Perepilichnyy inquests, as well as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Neil Sheldon QC's experience includes the inquests into the Westminster Bridge, London Bridge, and Manchester Arena terrorist attacks; Matthew Hill is currently a lead junior on the Infected Blood Inquiry.
Inquests and inquiries in London Bar
'An excellent set with a stellar reputation', 5 Essex Court consistently appears in high-profile inquests and inquiries, and 'its reputation as the leading set in England, as far as police law is concerned, goes before it'. Jason Beer QC appeared, as counsel for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Fiona Barton QC acted for the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and Counter-Terrorism North West in the public inquiry into the 2017 Manchester Arena deaths. At the junior level, Alison Hewitt is a highly rated specialist in inquest and coronial law, as well as associated judicial review matters. In recent chambers news, Alan Payne QC took silk in 2019. The 'impressive' Aaron Moss is highlighted as a rising star in the field.
'One of the go-to chambers in this area', Doughty Street Chambers 'has excellent barristers and the clerks are always responsive and helpful'. In the resumed inquests into the 1974 Birmingham Pub Bombings, Heather Williams QC recently led the team that represented the families of three of the 21 deceased. Also in recent work of note, Henrietta Hill QC is currently instructed as deputy counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (and is leading counsel in four of the inquiry’s investigations); Fiona Murphy acted in the Anthony Grainger Inquiry, which involved a fatal police shooting by Greater Manchester Police; and Alison Gerry represented the sister of Annabella Landsberg, who died in HMP Peterborough's custody. 'Future star of the Bar' Katherine O’Byrne is an up-and-coming member of chambers.
Serjeants' Inn Chambers is 'a go-to chambers for its range of experienced and impressive counsel'. 'The great group of clerks provides top-draw service at all times', while 'senior clerk Lee Johnson is eminently sensible and reasonable, and always willing to discuss brief fees'. In addition to Bridget Dolan QC's extensive inquest practice, she is often appointed as counsel to the judge or coroner in high-profile inquests. Debra Powell QC is acting for the National Police Chiefs Council in the internet strand of the wide-ranging Public Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse. Cecily White is acting for the National Police Chiefs’ Council in the undercover policing public inquiry. Also of note, Jamie Mathieson is a rising star of the junior Bar.
Temple Garden Chambers is 'a good set for public inquiries and inquests, and clients always receive a good service'. It has the scope to provide a full range of counsel to assist with long-running inquests and inquiries; the chambers' members act at inquests (via The Compassionate Friend charity) on a pro-bono basis for families, whose children have passed away. In recent work of note, Keith Morton QC acted in the Shoreham Air Disaster Inquest, which concerned the killing of bystanders when an ex-military aircraft crashed onto a nearby road, while David Barr QC is leading counsel to the Undercover Policing Inquiry, which is reporting on undercover police operations in England and Wales. Dominic Adamson QC took silk in early 2020, further strengthening chambers.
Garden Court Chambers is 'a fantastic set in relation to inquest work, one of the best, with extensive experience' and stands out in particular for its representation of bereaved families in landmark inquests. The set has particular expertise in complex cases, where an individual dies in state custody or where the state may be responsible for the death. Its barristers also act in judicial review challenges to inquest and inquiry rulings. Leslie Thomas QC is instructed as lead counsel to several Grenfell Tower Fire survivors and families of the deceased, while Brenda Campbell QC represented the families of Father Hugh Mullan and Frank Quinn in the Ballymurphy inquest into the deaths of 10 people, who were killed by British armed forces in Belfast in 1971. In recent news, Allison Munroe QC took silk in early 2020.
Inquest and inquiry work is at the very heart of Matrix Chambers, which is 'one of the best in this field and has barristers who are excellent'. Clients particularly benefit from the set's crossover between inquest and inquiry work, and administrative, criminal, mental health, police and prison law. In recent instructions of note, Danny Friedman QC and Raj Desai are currently instructed by five major London law firms (on behalf of over 200 survivors and bereaved families) in the ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry, while Hugh Southey QC (who was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge in 2019) was recently lead counsel in a challenge to the inquest into the 2011 killing of Mark Duggan by police.
Three Raymond Buildings is 'an excellent set of chambers with a wealth of talent'. Its consistent representation in inquests leverages off the set's backbone of criminal and regulatory expertise, while several of its members are coronial law experts who appear both in inquests and claims for judicial review of coroners’ decisions. Patrick Gibbs QC acted in the Sean Benton inquest, which concerned a recruit who killed himself at the Deepcut barracks following bullying and abuse, while Stephen Walsh QC represented the London Fire Brigade in phase one hearings of the public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. In recent cambers news, Matthew Butt QC took silk in 2020 strengthening the set at the senior end.