Katherine O’Byrne

k.obyrne@doughtystreet.co.uk

Year of Call

2013
Katherine O’Byrne
Profile

Katie has a broad practice specialising in international law, human rights, public law and extradition. She has been instructed as junior counsel in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and in public inquiries. She has represented individual and state clients before UN bodies and the International Court of Justice, and has given evidence in the European Parliament on human rights issues.  

 

Katie represented claimants in the ‘bedroom tax’ litigation and in the Construction Industry Vetting Information Group Litigation, recognised in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2016. She regularly acts unled in urgent claims on behalf of children in need and in challenges to extradition requests. Katie has expertise in public law cases with international law elements, including torture and arbitrary detention cases.

 

Katie currently serves as junior counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.  She was also appointed by Northern Ireland DPP Barra McGrory QC as junior counsel to Sir Keir Starmer QC to conduct an independent review of failed prosecutions of sexual abuse and terrorism cases.

 

Prior to joining chambers, Katie practised as a solicitor at Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) in commercial litigation and charity law. She was an associate to Justice Kenneth Hayne AC of the High Court of Australia and an advisor at the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre in Melbourne. Before qualifying as a lawyer, Katie was an assistant legal officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the case of Prosecutor v Radovan Karadzic

 

Alongside legal practice, Katie has lectured in the Juris Doctor program at Melbourne Law School and has published in the areas of public law, gender, children’s rights and international law. She is a trustee of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

 

Further information is available under the drop-down tabs below.

Extradition

Katie is regularly instructed in extradition cases at first instance and on appeal.  She has advised on the full spectrum of extradition issues including dual criminality, double jeopardy, forum and passage of time.  She has particular knowledge of practice and procedure under ss 21A and 21B of the Extradition Act, having delivered training on these sections.

Katie has strong expertise in challenges to extradition requests on grounds of family life under Article 8 ECHR, including cases involving children in need. She has used s. 17 of the Children Act 1989 to obtain evidence about the effects of extradition on the children, and to ensure that social services engage in making proper contingency plans for care and support of the children in the event of extradition.  She has provided separate representation to children both on appeal under the Extradition Act and on subsequent judicial review.

Notable cases include:

Seijka v Poland (unreported, 10 November 2015):  Successful Article 8 challenge to extradition of a father who had limited contact with his son, on the basis of excessive delay.  Whether or not the father was a fugitive was found to be irrelevant to the issue of delay. 

Fabczak v Poland:  Successful Article 8 challenge to extradition of father of two for a fraud offence.

Krusinina v Latvia [2014] EWHC 2509 (Admin):  Successful Article 8 challenge to extradition of single mother recalled to serve a six-year suspended sentence in Latvia for a serious knife offence where there was no adequate care plan for her 14-year-old daughter.

Public and Administrative Law

Katie has expertise in a range of public law work.

She acts for a vulnerable domestic violence victim in R (A) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a judicial review of the application of the ‘bedroom tax’ to women living in Sanctuary Scheme homes (led by Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers and Caoilfhionn Gallagher, instructed by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine).  The case was successful in the Court of Appeal ([2016] EWCA Civ 29) and will be heard in the Supreme Court in February / March 2016 with a number of other cases concerning the bedroom tax.

Katie frequently acts in urgent judicial review proceedings under the Children Act 1989 and the Care Act 2014, and has obtained favourable settlement terms for clients challenging government decision-making on public law and human rights grounds.

Community Care and Health

Katie is regularly instructed in cases under ss. 17 and 20 Children Act 1989, including urgent judicial reviews.  She has assisted in successfully obtaining interim relief and favourable settlement terms for children and their families.

Katie has expertise in advising clients on the requirements for proper needs assessment under the Care Act 2014.  She has been instructed by the Official Solicitor acting as litigation friend to vulnerable adults in judicial review cases. 

International Law

Katie has expertise in various areas of international human rights law, particularly in relation to the rights of overseas detainees in sensitive high-profile cases, including:

Ibrahim Halawa v Egypt (with Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Mark Wassouf):  Representing 20-year-old Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa before numerous UN bodies in relation to his arrest (when still a child aged 17) and arbitrary detention in Egypt.  As a result, several UN bodies and Special Rapporteurs have appealed to Egypt regarding human rights violations in Ibrahim’s case.  Katie also gave evidence on the case in a special session of the European Parliament.  The European Parliament subsequently passed a resolution calling for Ibrahim’s immediate release by 566 votes to 11.

Andargachew Tsege v Ethiopia (with Ben Cooper):  Representing the partner of British national and Ethiopian government critic Andy Tsege, who was illegally abducted by Yemeni officials and rendered to Ethiopia in June 2014.  He is arbitrarily detained in Ethiopia pursuant to two death sentences imposed in absentia.

Gloria Arroyo v Philippines (with Amal Clooney):  Successful case before the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found that former President Arroyo’s pre-conviction detention on electoral fraud charges for two years violates the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Assisting John Jones QC, representing former President of Liberia Charles Taylor before the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone in relation to the enforcement of his sentence in the UK.

Katie is instructed to advise a group of Members of the European Parliament on the legal effects of repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 (with Caoilfhionn Gallagher).

Katie assisted Sir Keir Starmer QC and was part of the legal team representing Croatia in Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v Serbia) before the International Court of Justice, led by James Crawford SC and Philippe Sands QC.  Katie prepared advice and oral submissions on various questions of public international law, evidence and Court procedure, and assisted in proofing witnesses of genocide called to give testimony before the Court.

Public Inquiries

Katie is instructed as one of a team of junior counsel to the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse, led by Counsel to the Inquiry Ben Emmerson QC.

Katie was junior counsel to Sir Keir Starmer QC on the Independent Review of the Prosecution of Related Sexual Abuse and Terrorism Cases, commissioned by Northern Ireland DPP Barra McGrory QC.  All recommendations in the final report were accepted by the DPP, who issued a public apology to the victims. 

Freedom of Information and Data Protection

Katie was instructed as junior counsel in the Construction Industry Vetting Information Group Litigation (aka Blacklisting Litigation) (Various Claimants v Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd & Ors), representing GMB Union and various claimants in ongoing group litigation in the High Court.  Katie was part of a team acting for former construction workers in conspiracy, defamation and data protection claims against major construction companies.  She advised and assisted clients in achieving fair and reasonable settlement of their claims.

Katie was led by Dinah Rose QC of Blackstone Chambers and Guy Vassall-Adams QC of Matrix Chambers, with Ben Silverstone of Matrix Chambers, instructed by Michael Newman of Leigh Day.  The case was recognised in The Lawyer's Top 20 Cases of 2016

Publications

Books and chapters:

'The Nuremberg Trial’, in Cameron Miles and Eirik Bjorge (eds), Landmark Cases in International Law (Hart Publishing, forthcoming 2016) (with Philippe Sands QC).

Co-editor, Surrogacy, Law and Human Rights (Ashgate Press, 2015) (with Paula Gerber). 

‘Souls in the House of Tomorrow:  The Rights of Children Born via Surrogacy’, in Surrogacy, Law and Human Rights (Ashgate Press, 2015) (with Paula Gerber).​

Contributing author, ‘Discretion and Duty - The Limits of Legality’, in Supperstone, Goudie and Walker on Judicial Review (LexisNexis, 5th ed, 2014) (with Azeem Suterwalla).

Articles:

'Liability of International Banks for Financing Terror:  Current Cases and Risk Management’, (2014) 29 Journal of International Banking and Finance Law 701 (with John Jones QC).

‘Case analysis: Kennedy v Charity Commission – Freedom of information under art.10 and the common law’ (2014) 3 EHRLR 284.

‘Is there a need for better supervision of the Refugee Convention?’, (2013) 26(3) Journal of Refugee Studies 330 (Special Feature on Supervising the Refugee Convention).

‘Should gay men still be labeled criminals?’, (2013) 38(2) Alternative Law Journal 82 (with Paula Gerber).

'General Comment 16 on State Obligations Regarding the Impact of the Business Sector on Children’s Rights: What is its Standing, Meaning and Effect?’, (2013) 14(1) Melbourne Journal of International Law 93 (with Paula Gerber and Joanna Kyriakakis).

‘Children and the Family’, (2012) 1(2) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law 55 (with Sahib Singh).

‘Beyond Consent: Conceptualising Sexual Assault in International Criminal Law’, (2011) 11 International Criminal Law Review 495.  Presented at the American Society of International Law Roundtable on Women and International Criminal Law.

·         ‘The Dialogue of Difference:  Gender Perspectives on International Humanitarian Law’, (2010) 92(877) International Review of the Red Cross 31 (with Helen Durham).

Bar admission

 

High Court of Australia (2010)

Supreme Court of Victoria (2009)

 

Education

 

LLM (Class I), University of Cambridge, UK (2012)

Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice (Dist.), College of Law, Australia (2009)

BA/LLB (1st Class Honours), Monash University, Australia (2009)

 

Memberships

Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association

Human Rights Lawyers Association

Liberty

 

Scholarships and Prizes

Pegasus Scholarship (Pegasus Trust, Inner Temple, London Bar) (2012)

Foundation Scholarship (Jesus College Council, University of Cambridge) (2012)

David M Livingstone Scholarship (Cambridge Commonwealth Trust) (2011-12)

Winner (with co-counsel), National Australian Red Cross IHL Moot, Canberra (2007)

Publications

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