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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 37

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.

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. Eight members of Chambers are appointed Junior Council to the Crown (Common Law); 1 A Panel 2 B Panel - 6 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)
  • Lucinda Boon (2002)
  • 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)
  • Robert Talalay (2010)
  • Robert Cohen (2009)
  • Amy Clarke (2009)
  • * Door Tenant A Direct/Public Access


Police Law - All Circuits

This leading police law set works almost exclusively on the defendant side, and continues to attract some of the most complex and sought-after cases. The client base is made up of chief constables, police and crime commissioners, the IPCC and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. Standout work includes advising the Metropolitan Police on high-value claims relating to the phone hacking scandal. Other work includes representing the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis in the civil proceedings brought by the family of Ian Tomlinson, who died at the G20 riots. Clients describe this set as "very accommodating, approachable and easy to deal with. There is no formality around briefing and instructions and fees are very competitive." 

Client service: "Their clerks are great and they pick well for you. They also do their best for you if you want a particular barrister."


Fiona Barton QC 
Tackles public inquiries, civil jury actions and judicial reviews, and advises on police misconduct tribunals. Represents most of the 43 police forces in England and Wales in inquests and disclosure matters.
Expertise: "Has unrivalled experience, is very thorough and is extremely supportive."
"She is trusted with very sensitive cases and provides no-nonsense advice. Her understanding of the law in this area is phenomenal."
"She is practically minded and appreciates commercial realities. Robust in her advice, she doesn't get cold feet."
Recent work: Advised on Alam v Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, which concerned a civil claim by a former police officer for misfeasance and malicious prosecution.

Jason Beer QC 
Practises the full range of police work, including civil claims, misconduct proceedings, inquests and inquiries. Gives sensitive policy and operational advice.
Expertise: "Supremely intelligent, he is sensible and gives you advice you can really use."
"In the high-profile inquests he can do everything. He has a great command of the court and his written advice is very helpful."
"A sophisticated analyst who does a lot of public inquiries. He has a deep knowledge of political practices and intelligence systems."
Recent work: Advised the Metropolitan Police on two species of high-profile claims arising from the phone hacking scandal.

Jeremy Johnson QC 
Has extensive experience of a range of police law matters, including malfeasance claims, human rights, freedom of information and data protection issues. Regularly acts on claims against the police in the Administrative Court.
Expertise: "When you ask him a very complicated legal question his response is quick and impeccable. He can tackle huge and very complex cases, and sometimes breaks new law."
"Possesses a first-class legal mind."
Recent work: Advised South Wales Police on claims arising out of the collapse of the criminal trial alleging a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice during the Lynette White murder investigation.

Samantha Leek QC 
Practises in all areas of police law and government litigation. Areas of focus include judicial review, inquests and the gamut of civil actions. Regularly acts on behalf of the Prison Service in judicial inquests.
Expertise: "She has the ability to set a client's mind at rest in difficult circumstances."
"An excellent practitioner who is very charming."
Recent work: Represented the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis in the civil proceedings brought by the family of Ian Tomlinson, who died after being pushed by an officer at the G20 riots.

Anne Studd QC 
Vastly experienced in police law, having handled judicial reviews, malfeasance claims, inquests and misconduct cases. Provides counsel in high-profile matters involving disability and race law.
Expertise: "Pragmatic and firm in her presentation."
Recent work: Acted as leading counsel for the Metropolitan Police in the public inquiry into the death of Azelle Rodney, who was shot dead by officers while under suspicion of drugs crimes.


Andrew Waters 
Possesses widespread knowledge of police law, specialising in civil actions at all levels. Handles a wide range of disciplinary work, and is experienced in high-profile and sensitive matters.
Expertise: "Clients love him and are naturally put at ease by him. He's very good at talking to people on their level and listening to them, which is incredibly important. He's a co-operative team player."
Recent work: Instructed by the Metropolitan Police in disciplinary proceedings against the officer who caused the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 riots.

Barnabas Branston
Police work focuses on coroners’ inquests, disciplinary hearings and general civil actions. Lectures police forces around the country on the new Conduct and Performance Regulations.
Expertise: "He is very approachable and clients like him very much. We use him a lot for misconduct and inquest work because he knows it inside out."
"There is no panicking with him and he puts everyone at ease. Also his style of delivery is excellent and panels really like him."
Recent work: Advised on a High Court civil claim alleging assault, misfeasance and negligence. It was brought by the family of a man who died shortly after his arrest and transportation in a police van.

Matthew Holdcroft 
Regularly instructed in civil claims alleging unlawful arrest, assault, malicious prosecution, misfeasance and allegations of discrimination. Also covers all other police law matters, such as those relating to the retention and seizure of vehicles and the correct interpretation of the Police And Criminal Evidence Act.
Expertise: "Always finishes well before deadline and is very clear and to-the-point."
"He is a very good jury advocate, who pitches it well and is persuasive and thorough."
Recent work: He was instructed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis in a claim relating to the alleged assault and wrongful prosecution of a mother following a domestic incident call-out. 

Lucinda Boon 
Has extensive experience of police and government litigation and prison custody inquests. Typical work includes police misconduct, judicial review and data protection cases. Has particular expertise in advising the police on operational and policy matters.
Expertise: "Very nice and helpful to work with."
"She has bags of enthusiasm, is a junior on the up and is very busy."
Recent work: She was instructed to advise on the Leveson Inquiry, looking at the relationship between the press and the police. 

Dijen Basu 
Covers a range of police law issues, including those relating to police powers, protests and challenges to enhanced criminal record certificates. He is also very good on the impact on policing of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Expertise: "He's innovative and aggressive when pleading, has sound judgement and is a real expert on police law."
"He has the added advantage of being qualified as a doctor which is very helpful – he's a first-rate leading junior."
Recent work: He successfully defended the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis against a group of solicitors who claimed false imprisonment, unlawful search and seizure and breach of their Article 8 rights after they were arrested for alleged money laundering offences.

Russell Fortt 
Experienced in judicial review, police misconduct tribunals, civil actions for defendant police forces and inquests. Has proved himself when tackling jury inquests involving deaths in custody.
Expertise: "He has an excellent grasp on the interpretation of very complex law and has the ability to cope under extreme pressure."
"Gives sound and well thought-through, structured advice. He also turns things around very quickly."

Charlotte Ventham 
Negotiates a police law practice that includes judicial review, false imprisonment, assault, malicious prosecution, negligence and misfeasance cases. Represents police forces in inquests on a regular basis.
Expertise: "She is very approachable and no question is too small. She will drop anything to help her clients."
Recent work: Acted for the Chief Constable of Cumbria Police on a judicial review of an alleged violation of the Article 8 right to respect for a private life. The claimant is a teacher accused by a pupil of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Nicholas Wilcox 
Represents forces in a wide variety of civil law matters, including assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution cases. Has particular experience in misconduct-related work and handles policy issues, pensions law and police finance matters. He is an approachable, fair and even-handed opponent, according to those who have been against him.
Recent work: Instructed by Durham Police Authority on the forfeiture of a police pension application under the Police Pensions Regulations 1987. 

Georgina Wolfe 
Handles wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault, personal injury and human rights claims. Regularly advises on police policy, operational matters and inquests.
Expertise: "She is incredibly industrious."
Recent work: She acted on a high-profile inquest into the death of a baby from malnutrition, and of the baby's mother who died in custody shortly after.

Kate Cornell 
Takes on all manner of civil claims, including discrimination and misfeasance in public office cases. Regularly advises on human rights matters often relating to protests. Has both criminal and civil litigation experience.
Expertise: "She has a very broad practice and is meticulous and well prepared. She's also extremely approachable and helpful."
"Gets to grips with the case quickly and can handle a massive amount of information within a short period of time."
Recent work: Defended a claim for alleged negligence arising from the claimants’ status as informants in A&B v Chief Constable of Hampshire.

Professional Discipline - London (Bar)

5 Essex Court really shines in the police professional misconduct field. It acts for Chief Constables, police authorities and the IPCC in all manner of disciplinary cases, and also undertakes NMC and GDC work. Sources say its members "are very good, give sound advice and are very professional."


Fiona Barton QC 
Widely recognised as one of the leading barristers in the police discipline field. She regularly acts for police forces in civil jury actions and judicial review proceedings.
Expertise: "She is incredibly thorough and well known for being unflappable, and has a real intellectual rigour."
Recent work: Acted in a police misconduct hearing following a long-running investigation into the conduct of the members of an entire crime squad.

Jason Beer QC 
He is regularly instructed in alleged police misconduct cases.
Expertise: "Incredibly astute and very client-friendly." "He is very bright and quick to pick up issues and key points. His drafting is excellent and he is very prompt in responding." 


Francesca Whitelaw 
Has extensive experience of representing and advising police officers in disciplinary matters.