THE SET Doughty Street Chambers is the dominant police law set in what is a limited field. It houses the majority of the most able practitioners and has great strength in depth. "All of their barristers can be relied upon to know the area of law very well," and appear in cases all the way up to Supreme Court. Members cover the whole range of actions against the police, from judicial reviews to civil claims and benefit from the support of a fine clerking team that engages in "first-class communication" with instructing solicitors.
SILKS Heather Williams QC is armed with an "incredible intellect," is "analytically brilliant," and has "all the advantages of a senior barrister without any of the pomposity others bring to the role." "A fantastic team player," she is praised for her "ability to explain complex legal issues and strategic points to clients." Williams commands the respect of opponents who say she "drives me mad sometimes because her arguments are so comprehensive." Frequently involved in some of the leading cases in the field, she has recently successfully represented a severely disabled young man who was arrested during a school trip. The County Court found in favour of the claimant, who had suffered breaches of Articles 3, 5 and 8 ECHR.
The "phenomenally intelligent" Phillippa Kaufmann QC shoots up the rankings this year due to exceptional feedback from market sources. "Extremely committed" to her clients, she is sensational both before and during a trial because she is able to "bring an incisive analysis to every case she considers." "A real joy to work with" she was involved in the last stages of Austin v United Kingdom, one of the first cases examining the legality of kettling. The case reached the ECHR which found that the claimant's Article 5 ECHR had not been infringed by the police.
Fellow silk Patrick O'Connor QC is praised for being "extremely bright." He has been involved in a large number of appeals concerning miscarriages of justice and is also noted for his work in inquiries. Sources say that he is "impressive at cross-examinations."
Hitherto Nicholas Bowen QC was known in the main for his work in education law, an area in which he still reigns supreme. Over time he has developed his practice, however, and he now handles a wide range of public law matters, police law cases amongst them. His recent cases include Michael v South Wales & Gwent Police, and Lynch v Warwickshire Police.
Paul Bowen QC was described to researchers as "a Renaissance man of public law, human rights and civil liberties work." He has worked on numerous cases of police accountability, many of which have contributed to the development of the law in this area. Examples of his work include Diedrick v The Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary & Others, and R (T) v Metropolitan Police Service, which concerned the collection and retention of confidential 'warning notice' data under the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act.
Leader of the police team, Stephen Cragg QC "has a wealth of experience" and is an "excellent police action lawyer." Widely admired for his "impressive case analysis and attention to detail" he is "formidable when handling judicial reviews." He recently acted in GC v Metropolitan Police Commissioner in the Supreme Court as leader, a case which found that the current policy regarding retention of DNA samples and fingerprints was unlawful.
JUNIORS The "very impressive" Henrietta Hill displays "forensic attention to detail" and brings a "creative and detailed approach to new and challenging cases." "Extremely experienced," she is "confidence-inspiring," "meticulous and approachable." She was involved in Lynford v Chief Constable of Sussex Police in which she successfully claimed sex discrimination for a police officer which resulted in a very substantial payout. She then successfully defended the award in the EAT.
"Extremely bright and innovative," Ruth Brander is "very thorough and very good with clients." Noted for her "fantastic attention to detail," she is also "impressive in her advocacy," and is well known for her work defending protesters rights. She is involved in the High Court hearing which will examine the legality of the pre-emptive arrest and detention of 15 people on the day of the royal wedding.
The "very competent" Alison Gerry has a particular specialism in defending prisoners rights. Sources say "she's not afraid to put emotion into a case, but in a balanced way. She gets the message across without being confrontational."
"Personable and enthusiastic," Nick Stanage is "a very charming lawyer." Particularly lauded for his exceptional analysis and his "first-rate advice, he is further appreciated for the fact that he is "not a head-banging advocate like some lawyers, but very smooth and the more effective for it." "Never one to move away from a difficult case," he has been involved with a long-standing group claim for damages concerning breaches of Article 10 and 11 ECHR.
Nick Brown has "plentiful experience of handling inquests" and displays "phenomenal attention to detail in his case analysis." He is "very forward thinking, and is good at anticipating issues that might arise." Noted for his "practical mind," Brown is able to "go straight to the main issues," and once in court he proves "thorough and relentless in his cross-examination."