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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > London > Public sector > Civil liberties and human rights > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Civil liberties and human rights
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Bhatt Murphy is ‘one of the very best with a number of star individuals in the field’ of civil liberties and human rights, and has a particularly strong track record in police action cases. The ‘extremely knowledgeable, personable and tactically astute’ team handles prison and police law, immigration detention and security services-related matters. Shamik Dutta is acting for the campaign group Liberty in a crowdfunded challenge to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. Mark Scott, who is ‘a hugely impressive litigator with outstanding tactical instincts’, represented the UN Special Rapporteur on torture in a case considering whether a former opponent of Colonel Gaddafi could bring a claim against the British government for alleged complicity in his rendition to and subsequent torture in Libya. Tony Murphy, who ‘runs circles around his opponents’, is representing an individual in a public inquiry into the fatal police shooting of Anthony Grainger, and Carolynn Gallwey is acting for individuals seeking an inquest into historic adoption practices over five decades to ascertain whether the practice was coercive or potentially illegal. Jed Pennington, Hamish Arnott and Jane Ryan are part of a team acting for unaccompanied migrants and vulnerable adults, who are based in migrant camps and are at risk of human trafficking, in their attempts to be reunited with family members in the UK. The highly regarded Raju Bhatt is another name to note.

Bindmans LLP’s ‘pre-eminent’ team is led by ‘strategic thinker’ and ‘excellent rainmakerJules Carey, who stands out for his ‘flair and charisma’. The group has core strengths representing individuals in inquiries; the team is acting for over 130 core participants in the Pitchford Inquiry, an undercover policing inquiry that was launched by the Home Secretary in 2015, and represented the family of John McBrien in the Hillsborough Inquest and is now acting for the same clients in related criminal proceedings. The ‘responsive, caring, knowledgeable and considerate’ Saimo Chahal QC (Hon) is representing Michael Sandford and his mother following the former’s arrest in the US for allegedly trying to shoot Donald Trump, Chahal is assisting with plea agreements, sentencing issues and prisoner transfer to the UK. Mike Schwarz, who is ‘a tireless fighter for his clients’, is acting for protestors in various criminal proceedings, including those pertaining to the Heathrow expansion and Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and the ‘unflappable’ Charlotte Haworth Hird acted for the family of Connor Sparrowhawk, an individual who had epilepsy and a disability, in a claim under the Human Rights Act following his death by drowning in a specialist NHS unit. Senior consultant Selman Ansari joined the team from Bates Wells Braithwaite. John Halford, who, according to one client, is ‘the best human rights solicitor in the country’, and ‘meticulous and methodical’ associate Anna Thwaites are also noted.


GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates

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At Deighton Pierce Glynn, the team’s ‘diligence and attention is highly impressive’, and it has a strong track record in immigration law and challenges to decisions made by local authorities. Practice head Sue Willman has ‘a real commitment to her clients as well as a high-level of technical knowledge’. Consultant Jane Deighton successfully acted for David Cary in his claim against the Metropolitan Police for its response to a homophobic hate crime. The group has also recently handled work pertaining to mental health detention, public inquiries, actions against the police, human trafficking cases and those concerning asylum seekers. The ‘dedicated, knowledgeable and expert’ Adam Hundt and discrimination law specialist Louise Whitfield represented the claimant in a successful Court of Appeal challenge against the NHS’ decision not to commission a drug that prevents HIV infection. Gareth Mitchell successfully represented Denise Brewster in a discrimination case before the Supreme Court, the claimant had been denied a survivor’s pension because she had not been married to her partner when he died; and obtained damages from an NHS trust for the deprivation of liberty of a vulnerable teenager, who had been held on a psychiatric ward for an extended period. Sarah Ricca and Polly Glynn are also noted, alongside Jo Eggleton, who represents families in an ‘unsafe system’ challenge to the regime at HMP Woodhill concerning unprecedented levels of prisoner death from self-harm.

Leigh Day’s ‘exceptionally strong’ team has particular expertise in the international human rights space, where it is representing claimants in the first modern slavery case against a British company and acted in three separate Supreme Court cases pertaining to complicity in rendition and torture of detainees by state agents. The group is acting for foreign individuals in a number of claims against multinational corporations and government bodies in relation to human rights abuses committed overseas, including the mistreatment of individuals by British troops and the attacks on plantation workers during the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya. Sean Humber leads the human rights department and Martyn Day heads the international and group claims practice. Tessa Gregory, Emma Jones and the ‘smart, strategic and innovative’ Merry Varney were promoted to the partnership. Sapna Malik, the ‘client-focused’ Rosa Curling, Richard Meeran, ‘up and coming starJamie Beagent, who specialises in immigration and environmental law, and historic claims expert Daniel Leader who ‘combines a strong intellect, hard work and great determination’, are also noted. The firm’s managing partner Frances Swaine is another key name.

Hickman and Rose’s group specialises in advising individuals and their families on claims against the police and other detaining authorities pertaining to the arrest, sentencing and treatment of individuals during detention. ‘Astonishingly good lawyerKate Maynardis phenomenally efficient, very client-focused and a tenacious fighter’; she is currently representing a man who was beaten while filmed and subjected to threats by fellow detainees, and, alongside Eva Whittall, represented an individual who was raped by a fellow prisoner in civil proceedings against HM Prison Service. Department head Daniel Machover is ‘fantastic in every respect, an authority on human rights and a delight to work with’; he acted for Amnesty International and Redress, as the interveners, in a challenge to the British government’s decision to grant Special Mission Immunity to the former chief of Egyptian intelligence, who is accused of torturing and killing members of the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood following a military coup in 2013. The group also acted for the family of Kester David in obtaining a re-investigation into his death and obtaining a personal apology from the Commissioner following failings in the investigation.

Hodge Jones & Allen LLP’s ‘brilliant’ civil liberties team is jointly headed by Jocelyn Cockburn, who sits ‘at the forefront of human rights law’, and Susie Labinjoh. The group is representing the relatives of servicemen killed in Iraq while aboard Snatch Land Rovers and acts for a number of protesters in various claims for false imprisonment, assault and European Convention on Human Rights breaches against the police. The ‘hard working, intelligent and well-informedNancy Collins is ‘very supportive of clients’; she recently settled a human rights violation case for the relatives of Luisa Mendes whose body was found by the police following a late response to emergency calls reporting domestic abuse. Other recent work includes representing core participant Neville Lawrence in the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing, and acting for claimants pursuing misfeasance in public office claims against two chief constables arising from the Hillsborough disaster, which concern allegations of the propagation of a known false narrative to defect blame for the incident. Sasha Barton handled a misfeasance in public office claim against the police and the Crown Prosecution Service following their failure to comply with evidence disclosure obligations during a murder trial.

Howard Kennedy LLP is ‘an excellent firm’, and its civil liberties and human rights team includes ‘great leader and strong fighterMark Stephens, who ‘is second to none’ and ‘in a league of his own’. The team has a strong presence in the media and technology sector as evidenced by Stephens’ advice to leading global ICT firms on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014. Senior associate Elizabeth Morley has experience in freedom of expression law and is acting for an Egyptian journalist, blogger and human rights activist, who is currently subject to a travel ban imposed by the Egyptian government. The team is also acting for a high-profile artist on the UK government’s refusal to grant the client an entry visa, and is also advising on the return of the client’s passport and issues pertaining to international freedom of travel following the client’s arrest in Asia. Other notable clients include Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship and Global Witness. Associate Antonia Torr is ‘an outstanding lawyer’.

Irwin Mitchell’s team specialises in claims against the police, notably assault and wrongful detention, and is ‘developing an excellent practice in this area focused on the South West of England’, where associate Fiona McGhie, who is ‘a safe pair of hands’ and has ‘excellent judgement’, and ‘very bright and capable’ solicitor Gus Silverman are based. Silverman represented a war veteran suffering from PTSD in a successful civil claim against the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police after he was tasered by officers during his detention under the Mental Health Act, which aggravated a pre-existing psychological condition. The team is also well known for its inquests practice.

The ‘strength and knowledge of the partners’ at McCue & Partners LLPclearly reflects their expertise in the human rights domain’ and the team stands out for its ‘humanistic approach’ in handling historic civil claims against terrorist cells or individuals charged with terror offences. Managing partner Matthew Jurylistens very well and responds appropriately’ and is ‘a pleasure to work with’; he and Jason McCue are acting for the families of the Real IRA’s 1998 Omagh bombing in enforcing the judgment of the original civil action against the defendants. Other work includes representing the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq in challenging the allegedly unlawful delay of the publication of the Iraq Inquiry, and advising several governments on the implementation of human rights tribunals, counter terrorism laws and other legislative issues.

Saunders Law represents around 230 parties in civil claims against the police regarding allegations of malfeasance in public office following the Hillsborough disaster, and acts for two core participants in the Pitchford Inquiry into covert policing operations. Practice head Nia Williams has strong experience in claims against the police and is supported by solicitors Ceri Lloyd-Hughes and Ruth Mellor. The team successfully settled a historic child sex abuse and negligence claim for an individual who was abused while in a children’s care home, and is acting for two claimants in pursuing claims for Human Rights Act breaches, assault and misfeasance in public office against the Ministry of Justice pertaining to unlawful strip searches. The group also handles investigations work and Williams is acting for the partner of a man fatally shot by police officers in Luton in an IPCC investigation into the circumstances of his death.

Simons Muirhead & Burton is arguably ‘the pre-eminent firm for death penalty and human rights claims’ and founded the Death Penalty Project, a not-for-profit company supported by a sister charity that provides free legal representation to individuals facing capital punishment. The ‘highly committed’ team is led by Saul Lehrfreund MBE and Parvais Jabbar MBE, who ‘have devoted their professional lives to helping victims of injustice facing the highest stakes’. Recent cases include handling an appeal challenging the imposition of the death penalty for an individual with a mental disability, which could establish a significant precedent in the Commonwealth where the mandatory death penalty is still law in some countries. Other noteworthy names include solicitor Amy Kuan whose ‘preparation is exceptional’ and who is ‘one of the most efficient solicitors’ one client has worked with, and legal director Amanda Clift-Matthews, who ‘works incredibly hard and is committed to obtaining the best result for the client’.

Simpson Millar LLP’s team is ‘particularly strong in the areas of health, community care and education’ and has a strong track record in Court of Protection work. Practice head Angela Jackman acted for two individuals in a judicial review challenging the NHS’ refusal to fund abortions for women in Northern Ireland. Silvia Nicolaou Garcia represented a Vietnamese national who was the victim of human trafficking and was detained by the Home Office, the case concerned the likelihood of the claimant being re-trafficked soon after his release from detention and the Home Office’s failure to implement adequate safeguards to prevent this. Oliver Studdert represented a young child, as an interested party, in his father’s judicial review against the decision by social services to place him on the child protection register. Dan Rosenberg is also noted.

Slater and Gordon’s team is ‘entirely professional and utterly committed to its clients’ needs’ and its lawyers have ‘excellent judgement’. Court of Protection experts Richard Copson and Liz Perrystand out and are always approachable, conscientious and highly knowledgeable’, and are acting for an individual in welfare proceedings and, separately, handled a novel judicial review pertaining to a compensation scheme. The ‘always cheerful and friendly and extremely hard-workingKim Harrison heads the human rights department and also specialises in catastrophic injury and mesothelioma cases. Richard Scorer and associate Zak Golombeck, who specialises in negligence claims, are also noted.

Tuckers Solicitors’ civil liberties practice is closely affiliated with its criminal defence group and is particularly strong in the area of prison law, where it is, arguably, ‘one of the best teams for claims against the police and other detaining authorities’ and its ‘experience, knowledge and tactical instincts’ are ‘second to none’. The team’s recent work includes Hind Ibrahim successfully acting for a woman subjected to sexual assaults by the police officer assigned to investigate her allegations of domestic abuse, and representing a Terrorism Act prisoner in claims for human rights, use of private information and data privacy breaches. Solicitor Elaine MacDonald, who ‘is junior but very bright, hard-working and great with clients’, acted for the claimants in pursuing false imprisonment and trespass claims against the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police following their arrest based on the misunderstanding that a sailing training event was in fact preparation for acts of domestic extremism. MacDonald also has considerable expertise handling prisoner segregation and religious worship discrimination cases. Andre Clovis is also noted.

Birnberg Peirce & Partners’ team is noted for its expertise in prison law, inquests and civil actions against public bodies including the police, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. Managing partner Marcia Willis Stewart heads the team and has previously acted for the family of Mark Duggan in an inquest into a police shooting. Gareth Peirce is highly regarded.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors is best known for its legal aid practice, and specialises in immigration, asylum and public law, and has offices across London and the UK. ‘Exceptional lawyerToufique Hossain, who is ‘particularly good for immigration detention cases’ and has ‘an excellent eye for the crux of the matter’, James Packer and Seher Toguz are key names for immigration and public law matters. Recent highlights include Abigail Fogg handling a judicial review challenge for an individual who was subjected to segregation in prison, and Jenna McKinney representing an individual, who was a victim of torture and suffered from mental health issues, in pursuing an unlawful detention claim and injunctive relief against deportation. Hossain also acted for an individual, who had obtained a rule 35 report and was facing deportation to the country where he reportedly suffered ritualised torture. Adam Tear joined Howe + Co Solicitors and Lucy Philips-Tate is now with the Government Legal Department.

GT Stewart Limited’s team handles private and publicly-funded work. Key names include Greg Stewart, Melanie Krudy, practice head Lisa Verro, who divides her time between London and Leeds, and the ‘very helpful and competent’ Andrew Frederick. Verro is acting for a widow whose husband was killed during an armed police operation in Kent during which two officers discharged their weapons twice, and has represented various individuals in racial discrimination claims. The group also handles work pertaining to the unlawful treatment of mentally impaired individuals. Duncan Burtwell is now with Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd.

Gherson has a strong track record handling civil liberty and human rights breaches in the context of immigration and international extradition cases. Names to note are principal solicitor Roger Gherson, solicitor Joe Levtov, who specialises in human rights issues in personal immigration cases, and solicitor Charles Burnett.

Howells’s ‘excellent, knowledgeable, sensible and experienced’ team ‘has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the context of inquests into deaths in custody, prison and hospitals’ and is led by Peter Mahy. Recent work includes Kulvinder Gill representing the family and estate of Anna Fields, an individual who escaped from a psychiatric ward and later died in hospital following a suicide attempt, in pursing negligence claims and claims under the Human Rights Act. Solicitors Michelle Gyte, Sharon Rinaldi and Jenna Kisala are also noted.

ITN Solicitors’ human rights and civil liberties group is led by Simon Natas, who is an expert in protest and free speech law. Natas has core strengths advising on the rights of Syrian dissidents, and handling inquiries and matters pertaining to police and prison law and corporate responsibility, among others. The team is representing the victims of human rights abuses in Egypt in investigations and in bringing criminal charges at the ICC and national courts. Tayab Ali stands out for his expertise in national security cases and is a key name for the protection of rights concerning anti-terrorism measures. Head of the public law team Ravi Naik has experience handling data protection breaches and privacy matters and is advising several clients on the banking industry’s risk management practices and the impact on privacy. Lochlinn Parker focuses on public order incidents and represents protesters, football fans and other individuals in inquests into deaths in custody. Other work includes securing the rights of asylum seekers and overseeing judicial reviews into police and government practices, including decisions made in the context of human trafficking cases.

Imran Khan and Partners’ team is advising the Blacklist Support Group, the Monitoring Group and Baroness Doreen Lawrence as core participants in the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. The practice is also handling an inquiry into child sexual abuse cases and related civil claims, including acting for core participants in the Roman Catholic Church investigation. Sarah McSherry, who co-heads the actions against the police department, is handling a group claim concerning breaches of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights pertaining to the treatment of prisoners held at HMP Full Sutton, and Kim Vernal represented the family of a young woman who took her own life after an inquest jury determined that authorities missed vital opportunities to help her despite her known suicidal tendencies and history of mental health problems. Name partner Imran Khan is also noted.

The ‘outstanding’ group at Matthew Gold & Company Limited, solicitorspunches well above its weight’, ‘provides a dedicated and personal service to clients’, and has a particular expertise in actions against the police. The team is representing the father of Michael Hampshire, the UK citizen who died in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan in 2015, in an inquest into his death; the ‘hard-working, charming and dedicated' Matthew Gold is leading the matter. Clare Jennings, who is ‘a fearsome fighter’, and solicitor Francesca Allen, who is ‘an impressive performer’, handled a judicial review case arising from the unlawful detention and assault of an individual by the police. Other names to note include solicitor Harpreet Aujla and Brighton-based director Maria O’Connell, who is the civil actions against public authorities group co-head.

Leeds-based Minton Morrill has ‘an extremely strong presence in the inquests space and is one of the ‘go-to’ firms outside of London for civil liberties work’. Practice head and ‘outstanding solicitorGemma Vine has ‘put Leeds on the map for civil liberties law’; she is supported by experienced clinical negligence specialist Julia Morrill. The team is active in various high-profile inquests, including representing the mother of Darren Lyons, who died following his detention in police custody. Other work includes acting for the family of Hannah Evans in an inquest into her death while detained in a psychiatric ward; the hospital had failed to increase her observation levels and carry out regular checks on her wellbeing despite informing the patient of her transfer and being aware of her intense fear of change.

Swain & Co Solicitors’ team has strong expertise in prison law, including handling sentence appeals, matters pertaining to prison assaults and mental health issues, and ‘has a diligent and committed department that strives to help prisoners where others would turn their backs’, and is a key name for public law advice. ‘Tenacious lawyer’ Dean Kingham, who ‘is very dedicated to his clients and always looking to push the envelope’, is the head of the firm’s prison, crime and public law team. He is currently leading a challenge to the Secretary of State for Justice’s policy on category A oral hearings, and is handling a challenge to the statutory construction within the Drug Traffickers Act. Liverpool-based Sara-Jayne Pritt, who ‘has ground-breaking decisions on her résumé’, and solicitor Sarah Blake, who acted for a category A prisoner denied an oral hearing by the parole board, are also noted.

Wilson Solicitors LLP’s team is a key name for legal aid work and its lawyers ‘are consistently excellent and a pleasure to work with’. James Elliott is responsible for the public law department and ‘has steered the group with great skill to establish a real presence in this competitive area’. He recently acted in a judicial review seeking to determine whether local authorities have a duty to provide accommodation to adults in need of care and support, and represented an unaccompanied child, who was trafficked and is seeking asylum, in successfully appealing a local authority’s decision that the client was an adult, thereby halting his deportation. Jennine Walker ‘is extremely well organised and excels in getting to the heart of complex cases’, ‘exceptional lawyer’ Katy Robinson ‘combines great technical ability with a real commitment to her clients’, and Nina Rathbone Pullen’s ‘knowledge of immigration, detention, trafficking and community care law enables her to provide comprehensive advice to her vulnerable client base’.

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