DEPARTMENT PROFILE

5 Essex Court

Inquests & Public Inquiries

15 ranked barristersBand 1London (Bar)UK Bar 2021 View ranking table
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5 Essex Court has an extremely strong bench of seasoned experts who are consistently involved in the highest-profile inquests and public inquiries. It has a wide spectrum of clients including NHS trusts, local authorities and government departments, and coroners or inquiry chairs, but its members have an especially strong following among police forces. Recent work has included key roles in the Birmingham Pub Bombings inquest, the Fishmongers' Hall inquest and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Client service:

"They are a really professional team; the clerks are switched on and go the extra mile." The senior clerk is Mark Waller.

Strengths:

Aaron Moss
Impresses peers with his advocacy and in-depth knowledge of inquests and public inquiries involving the police, terrorism and national security. He is regularly instructed by coroners as junior counsel to some of the more high-profile and sensitive inquests, and also acts for police forces and individual officers.
"He is very confident and articulate. He researches well and has good judgement in relation to how to pitch arguments tactically. He is a very good advocate, who is eloquent, clear and not afraid to stand up to the court."
Recent work: Acted as sole junior counsel for the Chief Coroner of England and Wales in the Fishmongers' Hall inquest, touching the deaths of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt in the 2019 London Bridge terror attack.

Strengths:

Alan Payne QC
Has a strong profile in this field, having represented the Home Office and various police clients in numerous inquests, in addition to high-profile matters such as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
"Alan is really on top of the detail and very well trusted and regarded."
Recent work: Represented the Durham Police, the North Yorkshire Police and Lancashire Constabulary in the Independent Inquiry into Sexual Abuse.

Strengths:

Alison Hewitt
Wide-ranging inquests and public inquiries practice. She is instructed by coroners and interested parties in matters involving police law, professional discipline and clinical and mental health. She also serves as the Senior Coroner for the City of London and routinely represents coroners in public law challenges.
"She is very calm and very knowledgeable in this area and she sits as a coroner so she has that extra perspective. She's a very good advocate in inquests." "There are certain categories of cases where her expertise, demeanour and balanced and calm approach are invaluable." "She is very well connected with the coroners and what she doesn’t know about this area isn't worth knowing."
Recent work: Acted as counsel to the Senior Coroner for Surrey in the inquests into the murders of Christine and Lucy Lee. The shotgun used by their murderer had been returned to him by Surrey Police prior to the attacks, despite serious concerns about the risks he posed.

Strengths:

Amy Clarke
Attracts instructions from various police forces in major inquests and public inquiries. She has notable expertise in areas including the use of force by the police, and the care of people with mental health problems.
"Her submissions were really clear and sensible and she won the respect of the coroner."
Recent work: Instructed to act as junior counsel on behalf of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Strengths:

Anne Studd QC
An experienced barrister offering considerable expertise in matters involving the police. She is regularly instructed in inquests and high-profile public inquiries involving police investigations and operations. She also handles some of the most controversial healthcare-related inquests.
"Particularly insightful and brings years of experience of tactics in police cases. Very assertive and assured."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of the Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust in the inquests following the deaths of ten patients of Paul Miller, a consultant urologist accused of serious negligence.

Strengths:

Barnabas Branston
Significant experience of inquests involving police conduct and deaths in custody. He is typically instructed on behalf of police forces and prison operators.
"Barnabas is great with clients, great with witnesses and also very good with coroners. He has really good working relationships with them which pays dividends." "He is an excellent communicator. He has a great deal of experience and is bright and decisive with his opinion." "An excellent advocate. He had an excellent grasp of the case and was always on top of the detail. He is really excellent at communicating the context of the police actions."
Recent work: Represented the Chief Constable for Dyfed Powys Police at the inquest into the death of Merion James, who died after being restrained by police officers during a mental health episode.

Strengths:

Beatrice Collier
Provides strong representation in matters scrutinising the actions or inaction of the police. She has additional expertise in mental health care, and is frequently instructed at inquests by NHS bodies as well as police forces.
"Her oral advocacy is assured and persuasive and her written submissions are in the same vein." "She's a pleasure to work with. She gets to grips with the issues quickly and is always looking to find a sensible solution for the benefit of the client." "She does some very heavy-hitting inquests and is very good all round."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of the Chief Constable for Surrey Police in the fresh Guildford Pub Bombing inquests. The investigation concerned the IRA bombings themselves as well as miscarriages of justice that followed when the Guildford Four were wrongly convicted.

Strengths:

Bilal Rawat
Regularly instructed in a wide array of inquests and public inquiries. He is particularly well regarded for his handling of matters involving death in prison or police custody, as well as clinical negligence issues. He is also noted for his considerable expertise in acting as counsel to the inquiry.
"He’s certainly a name I trust and is very knowledgeable about inquests – you know you're in safe hands if you instruct him."
Recent work: Acted as junior counsel to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Led the team responsible for obtaining and adducing evidence from survivors of the fire and relatives of those who died.

Strengths:

Claire Palmer
Routinely called upon by government departments and police forces to represent them in inquests and public inquiries. She is particularly adept at providing counsel on matters that involve national security elements, and police custody issues.
"She is a strong and forceful advocate who is persuasive and able to get the result the client needs." "She is very thorough, efficient and really good with the clients. She is very experienced in this area." "She came into a massive inquest halfway through and what was impressive was that she was in tune with what was going on immediately."
Recent work: Represented over 100 former undercover officers of the Metropolitan Police, in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Strengths:

Fiona Barton QC
Brings her significant expertise in police law to her representation of forces and officers in sensitive inquests and public inquiries. She also represents other state agents and is especially well versed in matters involving the criminal justice system. 
"She is really brilliant: she can get to grips with the central issues quickly and is very knowledgeable about police forces and their reputational issues. Her drafting and attention to detail is really excellent and clients adore her."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police in the Manchester Arena Inquiry.

Strengths:

Francesca Whitelaw
Is instructed by government and the police to represent their interests in many inquests which attract the attention of the national press, and which relate to serious acts of terrorism, or scrutinise the actions of police officers and other public agents.
"She is absolutely superb – a really effective senior junior. She is absolutely steeped in inquest work." "She is tireless, highly intelligent and has very, very good judgement. She is a sound tactician and is very good at knowing how to present your client's case to maximum advantage." "She is absolutely excellent and incredibly thorough. She is very well liked by clients and very hard-working, and excellent on her feet."
Recent work: Acted for the Department of Health and Social Care in the Infected Blood Inquiry.

Strengths:

Georgina Wolfe
Instructed in a broad range of public inquiries and inquests. Recent mandates include cases concerning police conduct, clinical negligence and prison deaths. She predominantly acts for state agents, including police forces, NHS trusts and government departments.
"Georgina is absolutely stellar. She has a huge brain and she's fiercely intelligent. She's firm with clients in a good way and doesn't get pushed around by anyone." "She has brilliant soft skills in an inquest." "She has been incredibly helpful at tackling very difficult cases at short notice."

Strengths:

Jason Beer QC
A true trailblazer in the field of public inquiries: having penned the seminal text on the subject he continues to pick up a plethora of key instructions in many of the most prominent inquiries undertaken, acting as counsel to the inquiry or for the police, government agencies and others.
"He is the most outstanding practitioner: an amazing advocate and so well prepared." "He is an especially good lawyer, and a go-to for the government." "He obviously has great knowledge and a depth of experience. He's been involved in pretty much every public inquiry that's happened over the last 20 years and it's great to be able to draw on that experience."
Recent work: Represented the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. The client had central government responsibility for fire safety issues and the building regulations system.

Strengths:

Jonathan Dixey
Routinely instructed by government departments, police forces and other public bodies in inquests and public inquiries. He also acts for coroners, and individual police officers or medical professionals.
"Incredibly thorough, very measured, amazing as a junior and knows inquest law inside out."
Recent work: Represented the Home Office in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Provided counsel on disclosure and the production of witness statements from senior civil servants.

Strengths:

Samantha Leek QC
Strong choice to represent coroners and state agents in sensitive inquests. She has particular expertise in inquests arising out of police shootings and deaths in prison. She also represents institutions as central core participants in high-profile public inquiries.
"Deals with difficult issues incredibly well, but also provides the necessary degree of client care you would expect." "She is at the top of her game – exceptionally good." "Samantha has a brilliant range of experience. She is an excellent advocate and clients love her."
Recent work: Represented the Home Secretary in the London Bridge terror attack inquests. The 2017 attack resulted in eight deaths and left 48 injured, including members of the public and police officers.

Inquests & Public Inquiries Department

5 Essex Court

firm
Department location

5 Essex Court

London

Greater London

UK

EC4Y 9AH

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Ranked Barristers

Chambers Research is conducted by 200 Research Analysts, across 200 jurisdictions and provides nearly 6,000 rankings tables. Annually we collect hundreds of thousands of responses from clients, the majority via in-depth interview. Learn more about our methodology.

Silks (QC)

London (Bar)

Inquests & Public Inquiries


Alan Payne QC
Band 3
Anne Studd QC
Band 3
Fiona Barton QC
Band 1
Jason Beer QC
Star Individuals
Samantha Leek QC
Band 1

Juniors

London (Bar)

Inquests & Public Inquiries