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5 Essex Court


5 Essex Court - London
  • 5 Essex Court
  • Temple
  • London
  • Greater London
  • UK
  • EC4Y 9AH
  • Head of Chambers Fiona Barton QC
  • Senior Clerk Mark Waller
  • Tenants 38

The Chambers 5 Essex Court is a specialist civil set and is acknowledged to be one of the leading chambers practising in the field of police law. Members of chambers appear in the great majority of significant cases and public inquires concerning police forces. In addition, chambers has a highly successful Public Law Team, a thriving Employment Team, a well-established Personal Injury Team and a strong Licensing Team. Individual members have successful practices in a variety of other areas including immigration, equine law, insolvency, commercial disputes, contractual disputes, professional negligence, and landlord and tenant. Chambers’ unique expertise and depth of experience, combined with its commitment to excellence, ensures that it is able to handle any case within its fields. Members of chambers provide advocacy and advice of the highest standard in an efficient, effective, helpful and sensitive manner. These attributes, combined with a friendly, accessible and open approach to clerking, allow chambers to offer its clients a comprehensive service in an utterly reliable, highly effective and straightforward manner.

Work Undertaken
Police Law:
Chambers is instructed by virtually every police force in the country and has an unrivalled record in police law. Chambers has the highest number of counsel specialising in police law of any set in the country. It has more members identified by the reputable legal practice directories as leaders in the fields of police law than any other set. Members of chambers have appeared in significantly more reported cases concerning police than members on any other set of chambers.
Public Law: Chambers acts for government departments, government agencies, police authorities and other public bodies. It has extensive experience in public inquiries, judicial review, the Human Rights Act, the Data Protection Act and the Freedom Of Information Act. Members of chambers appear in a wide spectrum of cases concerning equality, discrimination, civil liberties, disciplinary tribunals and immigration. Nine members of Chambers are appointed Junior Council to the Crown (Common Law); 2 A Panel 2 B Panel - 5 C Panel.
Employment: Members of chambers are at the forefront of employment jurisprudence, appearing in related jurisdictions from the Employment Tribunal to the Court of Appeal. The team comprises dedicated specialist practitioners, each with extensive personal experience of industry and commerce, who offer advice and advocacy on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious work. Members of chambers have strength and depth in all areas of employment law relating to commercial organisations and a collective understanding to deal with the most complex issues. In addition to police forces, clients include global energy suppliers, international construction companies and investment banks, as well as employees at all levels.
Personal Injury: Members of chambers appear for both claimants and defendants, and instructions are received from insurers, local authorities and the police, as well as from privately paying clients. A substantial amount of work is also carried out under conditional fee agreements. Due to the strength in depth of the team at all levels of experience, chambers are able to cover the whole range of personal injury cases, from the most serious and complex multi-track claims to the simplest small track claims. Chambers has extensive experience of advising on and appearing in personal injury claims arising out of accidents at work, product liability, defective premises, highway claims, holiday claims and road traffic accidents.
Licensing: In response to the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, chambers has brought together its licensing practitioners to establish a dedicated Licensing Team able to provide expertise in licensing work. Instructions have expanded to include liquor, entertainment, gaming and taxi licensing.

Members List

  • Fiona Barton QC (1986) (QC 2011)
  • Geoffrey Tattersall QC (1970) (QC-1992)
  • Jason Beer QC (1992) (QC 2011)
  • Jeremy Johnson QC (1994) (QC 2011)
  • Anne Studd QC (1988) (QC-2012)
  • Samantha Leek QC (1993) (QC-2012)
  • John Bassett (1975)
  • Nicholas Wilcox (1977)
  • Charles Apthorp (1983) A
  • Alison Hewitt (1984)
  • Andrew Waters (1987)
  • Simon Walsh (1987)
  • Dijen Basu (1994)
  • Richard Oulton (1995) A
  • John-Paul Waite (1995)
  • Alan Payne (1996)
  • Victoria von Wachter (1997) A
  • Melvyn Harris (1997) A
  • Alastair Hodge (1997)
  • Matthew Holdcroft (1998)
  • Barnabas Branston (1999)
  • Russell Fortt (1999)
  • Charlotte Ventham (2001)
  • Elliot Gold (2001)
  • Francesca Whitelaw (2003)
  • Kate Cornell (2004)
  • Beatrice Collier (2004) A
  • Mark Thomas (2006) A
  • Georgina Wolfe (2006)
  • Jonathan Dixey (2007)
  • Peter Taheri (2007)
  • Cicely Harward (2008)
  • Alex Ustych (2010) A
  • Robert Talalay (2010)
  • Robert Cohen (2009)
  • Amy Clarke (2009)
  • Catriona Hodge (2012)
  • * Door Tenant A Direct/Public Access


Police Law - All Circuits


Maintains a strong reputation for providing high-quality advocacy in the major police law cases, and devotes 35 barristers to this area of the law. Its silk line-up is particularly strong, and the set has the strength and depth to cover all instructions in matters ranging from public law challenges and inquests to civil claims for police misfeasance and negligence. Matters handled by the set include Morgan v South Wales Police, a case arising from the Lynette White murder, and Alam v Cleveland Police, a £1 million claim for abuse of powers and malicious prosecution. Speaking about the set's members, clients say: "You can be sure that they will know the issues that are important to the police force."

Client service: "The clerking team there is excellent. They are flexible and never let us down, so much so that I see them as an extension of our team. Mark Waller is an excellent chief clerk."


Jeremy Johnson QC 
Acts for claimants and defendant police authorities in the full range of civil proceedings. He represents police authorities in matters concerning public law, employment law and internal disciplinary hearings, and is particularly good at dealing with claims that police officers have acted outside the law.
Expertise: "He is a very effective opponent, who is focused and prepares his cases very well." "He is logical and calm."
Recent work: Acted in R (Roberts) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, in a judicial review of the use of stop and search powers in the Court of Appeal.

Fiona Barton QC
A popular advocate tackling public and private law actions on behalf of police bodies, in cases ranging from the retention of information to deaths in custody. She also conducts internal hearings relating to police misconduct.
Expertise: "One of the finest police law barristers in the country, she is very approachable and good at advising on complex legal issues." "Her advice is always very useful and her pleadings are second to none."
Recent work: Acting in the Hillsborough inquest, and instructed in Nunn v Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary, a case concerning a challenge to CPS disclosure practices.

Jason Beer QC 
A public law specialist with a strong focus on public inquiries. He regularly defends police discrimination and misconduct claims.
Expertise: "He is incredibly astute and very client-friendly." "He is extremely well respected by judges for his intellect and for his understated and reliable advocacy."
Recent work: Acted for the Metropolitan Police in judicial review hearings brought by David Miranda following his detention at Heathrow airport.

Samantha Leek QC
Expertly acts in civil and public law proceedings, defending police and other public authorities. Practice areas include the torts of malicious prosecution, negligence and unlawful detention.
Expertise: "She is highly personable, approachable and accommodating." "She is very knowledgeable in what is a difficult area to understand."
Recent work: Instructed to appear in the inquest following the death of Ian Tomlinson. Also acted in the inquest following the death of Mark Duggan.

Anne Studd QC 
Highly regarded for her efforts in high-profile and emotive police law cases. Her recent work has included claims of discrimination by the police.
Expertise: "She is very decisive and intellectually very bright."
Recent work: Acted in ZH v Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, where the police faced allegations of disability discrimination in their handling of an autistic child. Also appeared in the inquiry following the death of Azelle Rodney.


Andrew Waters
A vastly experienced police law advocate with significant experience of handling allegations of misfeasance in public office and false imprisonment, among others. He has also regularly acted in public inquiries and internal disciplinary proceedings.
Expertise: "He identifies the strengths and weaknesses of a case and presents it in a streamlined way that is palatable for the panel."
Recent work: Acted in Evans v Chief Constable of South Wales Police, a case concerning a claimant who was tasered in his home. Also appeared in Phillips v Chief Constable of Staffordshire, where it was alleged that police officers conducting a lawful search stole £700,000 worth of property.

Dijen Basu
Has a varied practice that is strong on human rights and protest law cases. He is also a specialist in public law challenges and advises regularly on the impact of equality legislation on police practices.
Expertise: "He has good communication skills and is well liked by clients." "He is very thorough and approachable at any time of day."
Recent work: Instructed in R (R) v Chief Constable of West Midlands Constabulary, a case regarding the collection of DNA of offenders not on the current database.

Barnabas Branston 
Well known for his inquest work at the Coroners' Courts. His wider practice includes internal disciplinary proceedings and actions against the police brought by members of the public.
Expertise: "He is great; the clients absolutely love him."
Recent work: Acted in an inquest on behalf of the Metropolitan Police into the shooting of Dorothy Groce in her home in 1985.

Matthew Holdcroft 
Defends in cases where police officers are accused of tortious acts including assault, wrongful arrest and misfeasance in public office. He is further experienced in judicial review and police misconduct hearings.
Expertise: "He is very confident and businesslike, and he manages the client's expectations appropriately."
Recent work: Acting in the inquest over the deaths of 96 people at Hillsborough stadium in the 1989 FA Cup Semi-Final. 

Georgina Wolfe
Has a wide-ranging practice that covers claims resting on civil liberties arguments and cases of failure to protect. She also undertakes employment and inquest work on behalf of police clients.
Expertise: "She is extremely friendly, very bright and good to work with."
Recent work: Acted in R (AXT) v Chief Constable of Kent Constabulary, which concerned a decision to close a rape investigation without informing the CPS.

Lucinda Boon 
Provides high-quality advice to police clients on matters varying from malicious prosecution to trespass to the person. She also advises on policy issues with regard to the Human Rights Act.
Expertise: "She is very thorough and presents everything in a very calm way."

Russell Fortt 
Regularly acts in cases regarding false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and police omissions, among other matters. He also provides advice in disciplinary and misconduct hearings, and is experienced in judicial review.
Expertise: "He has superior cross-examination skills and is impressive in terms of his oral submissions."
Recent work: Represented the Metropolitan Police in a judicial review regarding a human rights challenge to the retention of identifying data for non-convicted individuals.

Charlotte Ventham 
Held in high regard due to her significant defendant practice that covers the full range of civil and public claims relating to acts of police negligence, misfeasance and malice. She is capable of handling inquests.
Expertise: "She is very, very good at going through complex medical records and picking out the best points to use." "She has a very analytical, scientific way of going through the evidence."
Recent work: Acted in Vian v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, defending against a claimant suing for malicious prosecution and misfeasance following acquittal in a murder trial.

Beatrice Collier 
Displays skill in both employment law and cases of police malpractice, but is also known for her ability in cases with a human rights dimension.
Expertise: "She has an excellent grasp of employment law and is an effective advocate."
Recent work: Acted in the important case of T v Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, a matter that had significant data protection implications for Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates.

Kate Cornell 
Enjoys a strong reputation in this area and defends in a vast array of civil causes of action, including those concerning negligence, police omissions and unlawful detention. Expertise: "She has a very strong grasp of the details of police regulations and is authoritative as a legal adviser." "She has a good blend of practicality, pragmatism, academic ability and commercial awareness."
Recent work: Acted in CLG, AJD and JAD v Merseyside Police, a case featuring human rights claims for breaches of Articles 2 and 8 of the ECHR.

Jonathan Dixey 
An excellent trial advocate with comprehensive knowledge of police law and experience of handling inquiries, inquests and employment law matters. His personal injury expertise is particularly useful in negligence and assault claims against the police.
Recent work: Engaged on behalf of the Metropolitan Police to provide disclosure advice on the high-profile phone hacking case involving Mirror Group Newspapers.

Inquests & Public Inquiries - London (Bar)

5 Essex Court is a leading set offering representation to individual police officers, police forces, private contractors and public bodies, on behalf of whom its members have appeared in a range of significant inquests in recent years. Members are particularly accomplished in matters relating to deaths in custody, fatalities following police shootings, acts of terrorism and major fires. The set is particularly strong on pre-inquest issues and the implementation of recommendations following proceedings.

Client service: "The barristers are all extremely user-friendly, and willing to muck in to meet deadlines. Clients find them sensitive, and tough when they need to be." 


Jason Beer QC 
Acts for a broad range of interested parties to inquests and inquiries of the highest significance. He is known for being particularly skilled in the representation of police officers.
Expertise: "A very able and very intelligent advocate."
Recent work: Acted for G4S in the inquest into the murder of Paul McGuigan, who was killed in Iraq by a fellow employee of the security firm he worked for.

Fiona Barton QC 
Primarily represents police forces in major inquisitorial proceedings, many of which carry a great deal of public and media interest. She is particularly experienced in matters concerning deaths in custody and those following contact with the police.
Expertise: "She manages to effectively present the position for her clients, who are often the unpopular party in an inquest." "She is never fazed by difficult inquests and never lets her guard down."
Recent work: Represented King Edward VII's Hospital in the inquest into the death of Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse who committed suicide after putting through a hoax call from a radio station regarding the Duchess of Cambridge, who was then an in-patient at the hospital.

Jeremy Johnson QC 
Typically acts for public authorities in a range of inquests and public inquiries. He has particular expertise in proceedings addressing the actions of police forces, the military and the security services.
Expertise: "He has acted on a wide range of high-profile inquests, and is a very robust advocate."
Recent work: Acted for West Midlands Police in the Hillsborough Inquest.

Samantha Leek QC 
Represents the interests of police forces, the MoD and the Home Office in high-profile inquests and inquiries.
Expertise: "She is extremely approachable and has a great client manner." "In some problematic cases, her sensitive manner has allowed her to break down reluctant witnesses in the nicest possible way."
Recent work: Acted for the Serious Organised Crime Agency in the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan.


Alison Hewitt
Acts for a wide range of clients in both inquests and public inquiries, and has particular expertise in inquests compliant with Article 2 of the ECHR and those touching on the deaths of people detained under the Mental Health Act. 
Expertise: "She is excellent in her attention to detail, and also has a great relationship with clients." "She's probably one of the best barristers I've ever seen in a coroner's court, as she's excellent on her feet, in her strategy and in her line of questioning."
Recent work: Acted for G4S in the inquest into the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who died in the course of his deportation on an aircraft while being restrained by three security guards. At the centre of the inquest was the question of the existence of a causative link between the restraint and Mr Mubenga's death.

Professional Discipline - London (Bar)


5 Essex Court is a pre-eminent name in the field of police law. As such, it receives praise for its extensive involvement in police disciplinary cases, and regularly acts on behalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, chief constables and police authorities. The set also receives instructions from the NMC and GDC. 


Fiona Barton QC
A well-respected advocate in the field of police law. She regularly acts for constabularies and panels in misconduct hearings, and is also active in judicial review proceedings.  
Expertise: "She is a thorough advocate in terms of her preparation."

Jason Beer QC
Often appears in high-profile police misconduct cases.
Expertise: "He is bright, very good on the law, tactically very astute and a top-drawer advocate."


Matthew Holdcroft
Regularly appears as a presenting officer and legal adviser in police misconduct hearings and in matters before the Police Appeals Tribunal.
Expertise: "He is a very thorough and robust advocate." "He is very intelligent and grasps the issues of the case very quickly."
Recent work: Represented the claimant in R (Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis) v Police Appeals Tribunal. This matter related to disciplinary proceedings concerning a police inspector who was caught travelling in first class without a ticket.

Francesca Whitelaw
Has a plethora of experience of handling police disciplinary matters and regularly advises on misconduct hearings.
Expertise: "She is very effective and doesn't overstate her case." 
Recent work: Represented the Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary in an expedited misconduct case against a police officer who was accused of child sexual offences.