Caoilfhionn Gallagher > Doughty Street Chambers > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Doughty Street Chambers
Doughty Street Chambers


Caoilfhionn Gallagher is a public law specialist, with particular expertise in children’s rights, inquests, community care, actions against the police and prisons, and media law.  Much of Caoilfhionn’s work is high profile and sensitive, often raising national security issues – for example, she acted for bereaved families in the 7/7 (London Bombings) inquests and related judicial review proceedings, and in the Hillsborough inquests; and she has acted for media organisations to challenge reporting restrictions in many sensitive cases in the coroners’, family and criminal courts, including in relation to the unexplained death of baby Poppi Worthington, and in the Gareth Williams, Alexander Litvinenko and Jordan Lee Begley inquests. 

Caoilfhionn undertakes many ‘test cases’ which secure results for her clients but also achieve wider change in the law.  For example, her recent cases include acting in a number of successful challenges to the Department of Work and Pensions’ benefit changes, R (Hurley and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] PTSR 636 (benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against the severely disabled), R (A and Rutherford) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] HLR 8 (social sector size criteria, ‘bedroom tax,’ unlawfully discriminate against women) and R (MA) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] PTSR 1521 (Regulations required to correct discriminatory impact of the bedroom tax on severely disabled children). 

Caoilfhionn has acted in many of the leading cases on children’s rights, including HH v Italy [2013] 1 AC 338 (acting for the Official Solicitor, litigation friend to children whose parents both faced extradition, in this landmark case on Article 8 and the UNCRC);  R (HC) v SSHD[2014] 1 WLR 1234 (acted for Hughes Chang, instructed by Just for Kids Law, in this test case on treatment of 17-year-olds in police custody as adults rather than children; it has resulted in a change to the law, affecting 70,000 17-year-olds in custody every year); and R (T and JB) v SSJ and SSHD [2014] UKSC 35 (blanket disclosure of childhood cautions breached Article 8; acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission).


BCL (University College Dublin)

BL (Honorable Society of the King’s Inns, Dublin)

LLM (Cambridge, Gonville & Caius College)

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police)

Within: Leading Silks -

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC

Doughty Street Chambers

Exceptionally tenacious and an expert in her fields. She combines her legal skills with her campaigning prowess.

Doughty Street Chambers is known for its ‘excellence in bringing claims against the police and in the inquest field’ and has vast expertise in immigration, extradition, and claims against the state. Recent instructions of note for members include Heather Williams QC representing clients in McGlone & Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, which concerns the role of the police in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. She has also been instrumental in the Undercover Police Inquiry, undertaking considerable advisory work for the core participants which include Neville Lawrence and six victims of deceptive sexual relationships initiated by undercover officers. Edward Fitzgerald QC is acting for Maha El Gizouli, the mother of one of the ‘IS Beatles’, El Shafee Elsheikh, in her application for a judicial review into the Home Secretary’s decision to cooperate with the US authorities and assurances that her son won’t be subject to the death penalty. Others members of note include Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, who acted for Just for Kids Law in a test case concerning the use of children as ‘covert human intelligence sources’ by the police in R (Just for Kids Law) v Secretary of State for the Home DepartmentStephen Cragg QC who acted in Miah v Independent Police Complaint Commission challenging the use of illegal stops at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act 2010; and ‘standout junior’ Adam Wagner who acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in AB, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Justice regarding the prolonged detention of a minor in solitary confinement.

London Bar > Administrative and public law (including local government)

Within: Leading Silks -

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC

Doughty Street Chambers

Instructed in benefits cases.