39 Essex Chambers

Civil Liberties & Human Rights Department

London (Bar)
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Clients can rely on the expertise on offer at 39 Essex Chambers in mental health, discrimination and immigration matters, among many other issues connected with the protection of human rights. Practitioners at the set recently acted in the high-profile Conway case, defending a challenge to the prohibition on assisted suicide and the internationally notable Charlie Gard case.

Client service: Alastair Davidson and Michael Kaplan are senior clerks at the set.

James Strachan QC
Well versed in the arena of civil liberties and human rights, he is a familiar face at the ECtHR. He regularly contributes to high-profile cases centring on complex issues, such as the Secretary of State’s approach to detaining asylum seekers who claim to be minors but appear to be adults. He has significant experience in a variety of different areas including mental health, immigration and national security matters.
Strengths: "Strachan is extremely clever. He's a really excellent advocate and comes across in an understated way but is no less powerful for it."
Recent work: Successfully acted for the Secretary of State in R (Nealon and Hallam) v Secretary of State for Justice, in the Supreme Court, a case considering whether the refusal of compensation for a miscarriage of justice, following the quashing of the criminal convictions of both claimants, was compatible with Article 6 of the ECHR.

Jenni Richards QC
Respected human rights silk who routinely acts for both claimants and defendants. She demonstrates great skill across a number of areas, including local government, prison law and community care. She has additional capability in matters stemming from mental health and education law. She regularly appears at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Strengths: "She's a tough and formidable opponent; an impressive barrister."
Recent work: Acted in R (Johnson and Others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on behalf of four single mothers challenging the operation of the Universal Credit scheme.

Katherine Apps
She impresses as a standout junior with notable expertise in civil liberties and human rights law. She is particularly well-versed in equality and discrimination matters. She regularly appears before domestic and international courts at all levels.
Strengths: "She's an incredibly hard worker and she produces ideal written material." "Katherine is very pleasant to deal with, a very fair and diligent lawyer."
Recent work: Acted for the Department for Work and Pensions in R (Rehman) v SSWP, a Cart judicial review case brought by an unmarried woman who had unsuccessfully claimed widowed parents allowance and bereavement payment.

Lisa Giovannetti QC
Esteemed practitioner offering expert advice on asylum, immigration and national security. She is regularly sought out by public authorities, government bodies and individual claimants, often appearing on their behalf before the Supreme Court and the ECtHR. She has recently been involved in decisions requiring the Secretary of State to allow unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors in other EU member states entry into the UK.
Strengths: "Lisa is a very committed and hard-fighting but fair litigant. She has the respect of the court."
Recent work: Drafted the UK response in Ndidi v UK, an application to the European Court of Human Rights, alleging a breach of Article 8 ECHR by the UK in seeking to deport the applicant, who had come to the UK as a young child, but had an escalating history of offending from the age of 12.

Nigel Pleming QC
A respected member of the Bar who draws on vast experience of handling administrative and public law matters, including individual human rights-related matters and commercial regulations. He is known for his frequent appearances in landmark civil liberties cases, which he handles in Hong Kong and the Caribbean, as well as domestically.
Strengths: "Nigel Pleming is first rate. He's a forceful advocate who is never under-prepared and he has a very pleasing and relaxed manner." "An extremely charming advocate."

Steve Broach
Is a discrimination and disability rights specialist who regularly appears in high-profile challenges in the Supreme Court. Many of his cases arise in an educational context and he often represents vulnerable children and local authorities.
Strengths: "He fights hard for his clients."
Recent work: Acted in Mr and Mrs C v Governing Body of a School, a successful human rights challenge to a long-standing rule which excluded disabled children from the protection of the Equality Act 2010 where they demonstrated a tendency to physical abuse, arguing that it breached Article 14.

Victoria Butler-Cole QC
Focuses her practice on health and social care-related violations of human rights. She regularly handles significant damages claims and is highly regarded for her skilful handling of complex judicial review proceedings. She is on the B Panel of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and is routinely instructed by the commission as intervenor.
Strengths: "Victoria is brilliant counsel, both her written and spoken advocacy are outstanding."
Recent work: Successfully defended the father of an autistic young woman against an injunction sought by the local authority, preventing him from speaking out about her care in a psychiatric hospital, following a Radio 4 documentary which featured her case.