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Blackstone Chambers, described by solicitors as "near peerless," is home to a many of the Bar's most esteemed human rights and civil liberties barristers. Its deep bench of talented members appear for claimants and respondents in the most high-profile cases at all levels, including the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights. Recent instructions include R (Law Society) v Lord Chancellor, the judicial review of cuts made to criminal legal aid, and R (Robinson) v SSHD, a Supreme Court case concerning the scope of the statutory right of asylum and human rights appeals.
Client service: "The clerks at Blackstone are fantastic. The service is great and nothing is too much trouble for them." "The clerks are really easy to work with and they know the system inside out." "The clerks have a sophisticated understanding of the varying needs of different cases and the concept of horses for courses." "Derek Sutton is particularly good for help finding the right barrister." Gary Oliver is the senior clerk.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC
A hugely respected and much sought-after authority in the field of civil liberties and human rights, he has been involved in a number of major landmark cases over the course of his distinguished career at the Bar. He continues to act in significant human rights matters, calling upon his half a century of experience.
Strengths: "The grandfather of human rights law."
Ben Jaffey QC
He has a diverse client base comprising individuals, companies, central and local government, regulators and public interest groups. He is held in high esteem for his expertise in areas such as detention, data retention and the environment. He frequently appears before the Supreme Court.
Strengths: "He's got a terrifyingly brilliant mind and he is an absolute authority on surveillance, privacy and data matters." "His written drafting is exceptional. He's analytically very talented but also very good at expressing himself clearly and concisely."
Recent work: Appeared for the claimant in Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal, achallenge to a decision of the IPT concerning the lawfulness of computer hacking by GCHQ.
Charlotte Kilroy QC
A dynamic human rights silk with a respected practice, who demonstrates broad skill in the field and has particular expertise in cases concerning deportation, false imprisonment and national security matters. She is noted for her strength in complex immigration cases, undercover police investigations and broader constitutional issues.
Strengths: "Charlotte is a major driving force behind the jurisprudence that has been developed on many cases. She's quite brilliant."
David Pannick QC
An undisputed leader at the Bar, he has extensive experience of handling the most significant, high-profile human rights cases before domestic, European and international courts. He is a popular choice among both claimants and defendants given his broad-based expertise and formidable reputation. He has considerable expertise in Hong Kong in particular, where he acts across a range of sophisticated matters.
Strengths: "Courageous and convincing in the courtroom, he has a superb reputation." "David is the leading barrister in human rights." "Obviously fantastic."
Recent work: Appeared for the Metropolitan Police in D v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, a Supreme Court case concerning the duty of the Metropolitan Police under the Human Rights Act to investigate allegations of serious crime and their obligation to pay damages for a breach of such a duty.
David Pievsky QC
A highly regarded practitioner with a wealth of experience in the field, he regularly handles cases concerning property rights, the right to privacy, and freedom of expression. He is particularly noted for his aptitude in matters concerning the right to protest and religious expression. He is equally capable of acting for both claimants and respondents, in all forums, including the Supreme Court and the ECtHR.
Strengths: "He's excellent; a fantastic advocate with a very clear mind."
Recent work: Acted for the intervening government in DSD v Met Police, a Supreme Court case considered a leading authority on the liability for the police for failing to conduct inquiries/investigations which prevent/establish responsibility for Article 3 ill-treatment carried out by private persons.
Dinah Rose QC
Renowned for her superlative advocacy, she has an outstanding reputation for handling the most significant civil liberties and human rights cases. Her distinguished practice sees her regularly appearing in the CJEU, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. She continues to take on a variety of challenging cases, most recently involving sex discrimination, employment and data protection.
Strengths: "Dinah knows exactly what to say, when to say it and how to say it. She's extraordinary." "Dinah is a star of the Bar, she's a real tour de force. She's strategic, she sees the bigger picture and she has a confidence that permeates the team through to the client." "Dinah is exceptionally gifted at thinking on her feet and engaging with hostile tribunals, she can turn her hand to absolutely anything."
Recent work: Represented the Law Society in its judicial review of cuts made by the Lord Chancellor to criminal legal aid, which resulted in the Divisional Court quashing the Lord Chancellor's decision on the grounds of unfairness and irrationality.
He commands considerable respect in the field and is a regular feature in specialist tribunals and the Administrative Court, as well as appellate and European courts. He is an adroit representative of both claimants and respondents, offering expertise in areas such as social security, community care and prisoners' rights.
Strengths: "He's extremely bright, thoughtful and thorough as well as personable and easy to work with." "Iain's reliable, enthusiastic and produces good-quality written work."
Recent work: Acted for the prison in R (Thakrar) v Governor of HMP Long Lartin,successfully resisting a judicial review claim concerning prisoners’ rights.
James Eadie QC
Treasury Devil with a stellar reputation in the field of civil liberties and human rights, and is regularly instructed in high-profile judicial review proceedings. He is a familiar face in the ECtHR and a recognised authority on HRA challenges. He is able to take on a range of issues, from right to life to Crown immunity, and is an expert when it comes to the intersection of UK law with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Strengths: "A strategic practitioner with a very impressive overview of all of the issues in government." "James Eadie is a figurehead in the field of human rights." "Eadie is a formidable advocate."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of the Secretary of State in R (Robinson) v SSHD, a Supreme Court case concerning the scope of the statutory right of asylum and human rights appeals.
A sought-after junior barrister acclaimed for his work for claimants in a plethora of civil liberties and human rights matters. He is highly regarded as an expert on the interplay between public international law and human rights, an area in which he has extensive academic experience. He also has significant practical experience acting in high-profile cases concerning refugees, British military action abroad and sanctions.
Strengths: "Jason is absolutely brilliant. He gets stuck in to any public law or human rights problem put in front of him. He's a consistent source of legal power, enthusiasm and energy." "Jason is focused, diligent, extremely intelligent and hard-working. His attention to detail, manner with clients and legal knowledge is most impressive."
Recent work: Represented a number of unaccompanied minors challenging the significant and ongoing delay by the SSHD in determining the claimants' individual asylum claims, and the systemic delay by the SSHD in determining such claims more generally, in R (J) v Secretary of State for the Home Department.
Kate Gallafent QC
A highly regarded civil liberties silk, specialising in gender rights and human trafficking, as well as the scope of Article 8 ECHR and the right to privacy, among other human rights issues. She frequently appears on behalf of defendants, and has experience at inquiry and before the Court of Appeal.
Strengths: "Kate will push you very hard to look at the facts, face up to them and make difficult decisions. She does so in a way that engenders confidence and doesn't demoralise." "She is razor sharp and very acute in her observations and perceptions."
Recent work: Represented the Secretary of State for Justice, defending a judicial review claim alleging that the Parole Board lacks the requisite degree of independence, following the John Worboys challenge and subsequent resignation of the Parole Board Chair.
Monica Carss-Frisk QC
Joint head of Blackstone Chambers, she is an esteemed practitioner offering top-quality advice and advocacy to a diverse client base, including high-profile individual claimants and various public authorities. Her notably broad-based expertise encompasses areas such as freedom of information, immigration and disability discrimination, often with multi-jurisdictional elements. She has a strong international practice, having been called to the Bar in Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
Strengths: "She's very competent and effective." "A very good, understated advocate in a way that courts trust. She makes everything she says seem incredibly reasonable."
She offers expert advice across the full spectrum of human rights and public law matters, demonstrating particular skill in complex judicial review proceedings. She is regularly called upon to handle significant cases concerning defence and foreign policy, as well as asylum and immigration matters. She routinely acts for claimants and interested parties, as well as the government.
Strengths: "Naina has a forensic eye."
Recent work: Represented the claimants in a challenge to the SSHD's failure to consider the claimants' eligibility for DLR as victims of modern slavery before considering their protection claims and whether the policies concerning victims of modern slavery fail to reflect the obligations imposed by the Anti-Trafficking Convention.
A highly able junior who focuses his human rights practice on human trafficking and matters at the intersection of civil liberties and public international law. He often acts for NGOs and public interest groups and has appeared before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the CJEU.
Strengths: "Paul has an impressively broad practice and is an incredibly safe pair of hands. He is intelligent, strategic, creative and not put off by a challenge."
Recent work: Appeared in Benkharbouche v United Kingdom, a claim for damages against the UK in the ECtHR on the grounds that the State Immunity Act 1978 breached Article 6 of the European Convention by wrongfully granting state immunity to Sudan.
Sam Grodzinski QC
A highly thought-of barrister who wins particular praise for his advocacy style and intellectual prowess. He routinely tackles complex matters on behalf of both claimants and defendants, including central and local government bodies. He practises before all levels of UK court, the ECtHR, the CJEU and in several international jurisdictions. He handles a range of human rights issues, from religion-related cases to judicial immunity.
Strengths: "Sam is superb in every respect. He is fiercely intelligent and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law. He's an analytical, commercial and strategic thinker." "Clever and very tactical." "A really bright lawyer and an accomplished advocate."
Recent work: Acted for the claimant society, representing the Jewish and Muslim communities, in R (AYBS) v Senior Coroner for Inner North London, a challenge to the coroner's policy of refusing to take into account the religious need for speedy burials.
Shaheed Fatima QC
A highly acclaimed and talented silk who routinely provides expert representation to NGOs, governments and private individuals, domestically and internationally. Her broad expertise covers areas such as immigration, sanctions and unlawful detention. She is particularly well versed in the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and an authority on the protection of children in armed conflict.
Strengths: "Shaheed is a phenomenally impressive barrister, her enthusiasm, drive and brilliance is galvanising. She is nothing short of inspirational."
Recent work: Instructed for the corporate defendant in AAA v Gemfields plc,a mass tort claim arising out of the operation of a ruby mine in Mozambique, addressing corporate accountability for alleged human rights violations.
Thomas de la Mare QC
An esteemed practitioner whose broad-based expertise covers the full gamut of civil liberties and human rights law. He is a regular feature in cases concerning terrorism, torture and free speech, as well as immigration matters. He acts for companies, public bodies and private individuals.
Strengths: "He has an excellent bedside manner, he's very creative and he thinks outside the box." "Tom is a formidable advocate, who has a real passion for his clients' cases. He brings real creativity and flair to the table, often developing knock-out arguments that others simply wouldn't think of."
Recent work: Continued to act in Kamoka & Another v Security Service & Another, a long-running damages claim byformer members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group for claims of false imprisonment and other human rights violations, arising from the UK’s collusion in the rendition, unlawful imprisonment and questioning of LIFG members and its concealment thereof from the Home Secretary and courts.
Timothy Otty QC
He is particularly noted for his adroit handling of cases concerning state immunity and economic sanctions. He is regularly called on to tackle high-profile, complex matters before domestic, European and international courts.
Strengths: "He is extremely experienced, knowledgeable and clear in his advice." "He's masterful in his strategic guidance: he really understands how the court will approach an argument."
Recent work: Acted for the claimant in Janah v United Kingdom, a damages claim against the UK in the European Court of Human Rights, arising out of the wrongful application of state immunity to Libya, which amounted to a breach of the right of access to a court and unlawful discrimination.
Tom Hickman QC
A highly regarded new silk at the Civil Liberties and Human Rights Bar, he is well known for his notable experience in complex appellate cases. He regularly appears before all levels of court, including the Supreme Court and the ECtHR, litigating both for and against regulatory, government and public bodies. Possessed of far-reaching expertise, he has recently focused on the human rights issues surrounding diplomatic immunity, data protection and UK benefits schemes.
Strengths: "He's the leading voice in matters of constitutional importance. He's authoritative, knowledgeable and capable of leading against advocates of much greater call." "Tom Hickman is fantastic. He's delightful to work with, very efficient and very astute intellectually." "Tom is a superstar."
Recent work: Acted for the first intervener in Reyes v Al-Malki, concerning the diplomatic immunity of diplomats using trafficking victims as domestic servants.