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John Kelly

Work 020 7667 5000
Harbottle & Lewis LLP

Work Department

Media and information group


John Kelly is a litigator who specialises in the area of reputation protection, privacy and defamation. Having been involved in many of the most high profile cases and developments in this area, John is recognised as a leading practitioner by Chambers UK, Chambers HNW, The Legal 500 and The Spear’s 500.

John works with clients to protect their rights and reputations. Whilst much of John’s work is confidential he represents a number of high-profile individuals, well-known brands, and FTSE 100 companies.

Personal clients include High Net Worth individuals, successful entrepreneurs, as well as leading individuals in the entertainment industry, music and sport. John has represented a host of well-known clients including Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Steve Coogan, Russell Brand and Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne. John has developed Personal Protection Principles which are used to protect clients reputations, their family and their security.

Corporate clients include leading consumer brands, as well as companies in the financial services and charity sector. Work for corporate clients includes corporate brand protection, advising on the media law aspects of complex litigation, and the protection of private and confidential information in such cases. In addition to this John has extensive experience of dealing with consumer affairs television programmes.

John is well-known in the area of sports law and acts for premiership and international football clubs, players, owners, managers, agents as well as governing bodies.

John is a regular speaker on Reputation Protection and Personal Protection rights both in the UK and internationally including in the US and Australia.


  • Trained at Schilling & Lom, qualified 1994
  • Schilling & Lom and Partners 1992-97
  • Mushroom Records Australia Head of Legal & Business Affairs 1998-99
  • Kelly & Co Lawyers Australia Partner 1999-2005
  • Schillings Partner 2005-13
  • Harbottle & Lewis Partner 2013 to date


Law Society of South Australia


  • University of Sheffield, LLB Hons (1991)
  • College of Law Chester, Law Society Final Examination (1992)
  • Admitted as a solicitor and barrister in South Australia 1999


The Ivy Club

London: Risk advisory

Reputation management

Within: Leading individuals

John Kelly - Harbottle & Lewis LLP

Within: Reputation management

Harbottle & Lewis LLP  has ‘a strong team that provides a cost-effective service for clients’.  The team advise high net-worth individuals, corporates and brands on defamation, privacy, breach of confidence, data protection issues and also engage in pre-publication action on behalf of their clients. The firm has successfully represented several members of the British royal family against publications like Mail Online and Closer Magazine. Other work included representing The First Lady of the United States of America Melania Trump in successful defamation proceedings against The Daily Mail and obtaining an on-air apology for Pets at Home Limited following the finding of the BBC Trust that a Watchdog programme lacked accuracy and had failed to be impartial. The team is led by the ‘tactically astute’ Gerrard Tyrell , ‘ableJo Sanders  and ‘brilliantJohn Kelly .

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Legal Developments by:
Harbottle & Lewis LLP

  • Account of profits v damages: when and why does it matter?

    Since 2007, Experience Hendrix LLC(Hendrix) and Times Newspapers Ltd (Times) have been litigating over the intellectual property rights (IPR) in a recording of a Jimi Hendrix concert that took place at the Royal Albert Hall in February 1969. In September 2006 Times distributed a free CD, or covermount, with each edition of The Sunday Times . A claim was issued against Times in March 2007 for infringement of copyright and performers’ rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. In March 2008 the High Court held that Times had infringed the IPR in the recording and Hendrix elected to have an inquiry as to damages in respect of that infringement. The case has given rise to some complex issues as to the basis for the quantification of damages, and the inquiry is due to be heard next year, but the case is also a reminder of more general considerations in relation to remedies in IPR cases, and why the basis for quantification of those remedies can have far reaching consequences for a successful claimant.

    - Harbottle & Lewis LLP

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