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39 Essex Chambers houses a deep bench of silks and juniors specialising in health and welfare matters, and garners praise from instructing solicitors who describe the set as "undoubtedly the leader in this field." Members handle a wide range of cases in the Court of Protection, and offer significant expertise in matters involving the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration and capacity to marry disputes. Members are regularly instructed in the most complex matters, frequently appearing in landmark test cases before both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The team acts on behalf of the Official Solicitor, statutory agencies, incapable individuals and their families. Recent work for the set includes A Local Authority v P, P’s parent and an NHS Trust, a highly sensitive case concerning capacity to consent to sexual relations, deprivation of liberty and covert contraception, and N v A CCG and others, a Supreme Court case analysing whether a commissioning body can remove the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection to make a best interests decision about contact. Interviewees note that 39 Essex "is at the forefront of new developments in the law," and draw attention to the set's "portfolio of very impressive advocates."
Client service: "The clerking is absolutely fantastic. The clerks will do their utmost to find a barrister for you and they're really responsive in sending fee notes and accepting papers." "The clerking team is in a league of its own - they're all very well organised, always on the ball and always working. They won't double-book the barristers and they go the extra mile for their clients." "The clerks are really friendly, helpful and very quick to get back to you." "The clerks are the best in the business. They will find you counsel even when they truly didn’t think that anyone was available, and if they can’t find anyone, they will suggest alternatives or provide counsel's views on others to approach." Alastair Davidson and Michael Kaplan are the senior clerks.
Has a broad practice that encompasses mental capacity, social housing, and health and social care cases. He is highly regarded for his work for a broad range of clients, and regularly acts for private care providers, patients, service users and private litigants. He is appointed to the Attorney General’s Regional Panel and acts for both claimants and defendants in various courts from the Court of Appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
Strengths: "He's very thorough and always calm and collected. He's able to deal with complex situations in a very relaxed way, is good with clients and a pleasure to instruct." "He's always prepared, knows the issues and is very client-focused."
Recent work: Acted in a judicial review of the decision to close Huddersfield Hospital's A&E department and reconfigure the entire hospital services with a move to a neighbouring hospital.
Alexander Ruck Keene
Noted in the market for his academic excellence in the Court of Protection field. Peers consistently recognise his dedication to the area, citing his writing and involvement in the law as indications of his pre-eminence. He edits and contributes to a number of leading publications dealing with the area, while also maintaining an enviable practice.
Strengths: "He's at the forefront of high-profile policy work." "He knows more than anyone else in this area, and is a very good advocate." "He's extremely intelligent, really knowledgeable and his written work is of a very high quality." "An impressive barrister and the font of all knowledge on Court of Protection work."
Recent work: Instructed in N v A CCG, a case concerning the identification of the boundaries of the Court of Protection’s jurisdiction vis-à-vis public bodies.
Handles Court of Protection matters as a natural extension of her work in community care and mental health. She is adept at handling a range of cases, including those concerning deprivation of liberty, forced marriage and the relationship between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act. Her expertise also includes advising on professional discipline matters within the healthcare sector.
Strengths: "She is fast becoming a go-to barrister for cases where creative thinking is required. She works incredibly hard, and nothing is too much for her." "She's very thorough and straightforward in her approach to cases."
Adept at handling a wide range of Court of Protection matters, and has particular expertise in complex cross-border cases concerning the international protection of vulnerable adults. Her experience covers health and welfare matters such as care, contact, sexual relations, and serious medical treatment.
Strengths: "She is a good advocate - she focuses her points and deals with matters very carefully." "She is always on top of the latest legal developments and thinks outside the box to find the right solution for the client." "Very approachable and thorough."
Recent work: Instructed in a case concerning whether it is mandatory to bring before the court an application for withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from a patient who has a prolonged disorder of consciousness, in circumstances where the clinical team and the family are agreed that it is not in the patient's best interests to continue to receive that treatment.
Increasingly well known in the market for her work handling welfare and medical treatment disputes. She acts for a broad range of clients, including NHS trusts, CCGs and families, in a range of matters including cases concerning deprivation of liberty and best interest decisions. She is also well known for providing training and seminars on the Mental Capacity Act and the Mental Health Act.
Strengths: "She is very meticulous and analytical, and has a robust approach. She puts a lot of effort into preparing cases." "She is extremely bright but also caring and kind. She has the perfect balance and approach for vulnerable clients."
Fenella Morris QC
Highly regarded silk who has a broad practice that encompasses Court of Protection as well as health and community care matters. She is also increasingly involved in cases which involve disputes over property and financial affairs. She is an expert on capacity to consent to marriage and sexual relations, as well as on matters that concern urgent medical treatment and deprivation of liberty. Hers is a broad client base, ranging from individuals to NHS and private healthcare bodies.
Strengths: "She cuts down to the core issues very quickly and is not afraid of giving difficult advice." "She is really calm and understands both the sector and the judiciary and knows how to put everything in context."
Recent work: Instructed in a dispute between the relatives and a hospital over whether a very frail, elderly patient should move to palliative care.
Noted for her work handling cases concerning serious medical treatment and welfare decisions, she acts on behalf of a range of clients including families, the Official Solicitor and NHS trusts. She spent eight years as a solicitor in Scotland practising medical law, and as a result has expertise beyond her year of call.
Strengths: "Fiona is an amazing lawyer. She is reliable, thorough and has an incredible breadth of knowledge within her field. She leaves no stone unturned." "A formidable advocate whose attention to detail singularly sets her apart from her contemporaries."
Recent work: Instructed in N v A CCG, the second ever appeal to the Supreme Court concerning the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The court provided guidance about how a dispute between a public body and the family of an incapacitated adult about the provision of services should be managed by the Court of Protection.
Highly regarded prison law barrister who has cultivated a strong reputation in the Court of Protection for his handling of cases involving incarcerated, incapacitated individuals. He is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor, family members, NHS bodies and local authorities.
Strengths: "He is knowledgeable, takes a no-nonsense approach and he is very good at problem solving. He very quickly gets straight to the heart of the issues." "An incredibly passionate advocate."
Jenni Richards QC
A standout silk who acts on behalf of public bodies and individuals. She is also regularly instructed to act on behalf of public interest groups in cases covering all issues relating to public law. She is particularly adept at handling high-profile and complex cases under the Mental Capacity Act, many of which involve difficult issues around medical treatment, deprivation of liberty and capacity.
Strengths: "A go-to silk for really difficult cases - she's excellent with clients, brilliant in court and really good at thinking up novel points." "She's very very good on her feet and responds quickly when the court asks challenging questions." "She is hugely impressive; she's on top of the law and all the documentation, and is willing to push the boundaries of the law."
Recent work: Acted on the instruction of the Official Solicitor in a case in the COP concerning the care, residence and contact of a young woman with learning difficulties. The case raised difficult issues as to travel abroad and how to deal with allegations of abuse.
Instructed by a wide client base that includes local authorities, clinical commissioning groups (CCG), the Official Solicitor and others. She is particularly experienced at disputes that arise out of best interest decisions, with specific focus on matters involving health and welfare, although she does also practise in the related field of property and affairs. Her expertise spans matters arising under the Mental Capacity Act and the High Court's inherent jurisdiction.
Strengths: "She is brilliant; she is very good at picking through points of law and cases that involve tricky mental capacity issues, and her written work is very good." "A talented barrister who is sensitive when navigating cases and has a real gift for knowing how to pitch issues. She is an extremely reliable pair of hands." "She's personable, easy to work with and knows her stuff inside out. She's also very practical and reassuring."
Recent work: Instructed in a case concerning whether there is an obligation to bring decisions to withdraw clinically assisted nutrition and hydration before the Court of Protection, even where there is agreement that it is in P's best interests. Permission to leap-frog an appeal to the Supreme Court has been granted to the Official Solicitor.
Focuses on cases concerning mental capacity, mental health and medical treatment. He receives instructions from clients such as local authorities, NHS bodies and individuals. He regularly acts in cases concerning serious medical treatment of both adults and children.
Strengths: "He's authoritative, always meticulously prepared and very reasonable. He's very easy to deal with." "He is very pragmatic and exceptionally knowledgeable about this area."
Excels at Court of Protection work that involves deprivation of liberty and other human rights issues. He also has extensive expertise in the use of the Mental Health Act 1983. Peers point out his academic excellence as a distinguishing characteristic, citing his role as lecturer in Clinical Legal Education at the University of Manchester.
Strengths: "He's very academically on the ball, knows the law very well and is a very good advocate." "He is incredibly helpful, very responsive, fantastically knowledgeable and hugely respected in the Court of Protection world."
An excellent practitioner who has a broad public law practice that encompasses community care, mental health and human rights. She is particularly adept at handling medical treatment cases, and is regularly involved in matters involving an overlap between mental capacity law and civil litigation.
Strengths: "She is easy to work with, very responsive and has a detailed knowledge of mental health and the healthcare sector. She's very reliable, has a great rapport with clients and really understands their needs." "A very pleasant opponent and an advocate who makes her points well in court."
Recent work: Represented the parents of a two-month-old child with a rare brain disorder and severe epileptic condition in their opposition to the withdrawal of the child's medical treatment.
Parishil Patel QC
Skilled practitioner who acts for a broad range of clients such as public bodies, family members and the Official Solicitor. He is particularly good at medical treatment disputes and is instructed in cases involving a crossover of both welfare and property matters on behalf of all parties.
Strengths: "He's calm, measured and always a pleasure to be against." "He grasps things so quickly - he cuts through complex set of facts and gets straight to the important parts. He's really responsive and a very passionate barrister."
Recent work: Acted for M, the daughter of P, in the first case in which the court has sanctioned the withdrawal of clinically assisted hydration and nutrition provided to a person in a minimally conscious state.
Acknowledged as an expert in the field of health and welfare, and particularly proficient at handling cases on the overlap between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act. Mant also regularly deals with deprivation of liberty matters. Recent cases include disputes concerning end of life care, childbirth and forced contraception, among others.
Strengths: "He is an extremely intelligent, approachable and very skilled advocate." "He is excellent; very communicative and on the ball." "He's very knowledgeable on Court of Protection matters and is a safe pair of hands. He's able to tackle complex issues and is a very impressive advocate."
Recent work: Acted for the appellant in Welsh Ministers v PJ, a Supreme Court case concerning whether a patient's responsible clinician can lawfully impose conditions on a community treatment order that amounts to a deprivation of liberty.
Victoria Butler-Cole QC
Represents a broad range of clients, including family members, health authorities, local authorities and the Official Solicitor. She is a top choice for a range of cases, including those relating to welfare, capacity and medical treatment disputes. She has been involved in a number of the leading cases concerning the application of Article 5 as well as those concerning the international jurisdiction of the Court of Protection. She regularly acts in cases concerning end of life treatment.
Strengths: "Victoria is undoubtedly one of the brightest and most sought-after silks working within the Court of Protection field." "She's lovely to deal with and you feel the case is in very safe hands with Victoria." "She's a balanced and fair advocate, with a commanding presence in court."
Recent work: Instructed in a test case seeking new guidance on when family members of learning-disabled young adults should be appointed as their deputies for health and welfare, to continue having input into decisions about their care and wellbeing after they turn 18.
Vikram Sachdeva QC
Particularly adept at handling medical treatment cases due to his clinical background, which gives him an excellent understanding of the complex health issues involved. He has been involved in numerous high-profile and heavily scrutinised cases in the Court of Protection. He is known for his work in cases concerning mental health, medical ethics and end-of-life care cases.
Strengths: "Vikram is a leading silk for Court of Protection welfare cases. He has a strong intellect, attention to detail and a real depth of knowledge." "He is outstanding both on his feet and on paper." "He is incisive, well balanced and really goes the extra mile for his clients."
Recent work: Instructed in Secretary of State for the Home Department v Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal, a novel case concerning the legality of taking blood samples from the unconscious victims of the Salisbury poisoning for the purpose of sending them to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for third-party confirmation of the substances involved.