Sources admire its “genuine commitment to civil liberties” and its “incredibly long history of doing human rights work.”

The protection and development of Human Rights and civil liberties is at the very heart of the work we do at Doughty Street Chambers. Since Doughty Street was first formed back in 1990 a commitment to human rights and civil liberties has been our guiding principal and we pride ourselves on the depth of knowledge, unrivaled expertise, and experience of our barristers in the field of human rights.

 

We provide specialist human rights advice, training and advocacy across all the broad practice areas our barristers cover. We have represented and defended human rights both within the domestic courts, in jurisdictions around the world, and at the various specialist international human rights bodies, including, for example, the Council of Europe and the Inter American Court of Human Rights.

 

What we do

 

We represent all those seeking to protect their human rights, exercise their human rights, and those seeking redress for violations of their human rights.

 

Domestic courts

 

In the domestic courts Barristers at Doughty Street have used their extensive legal expertise to further the protection of rights in such diverse fields as mental health, prisoners’ rights, actions against the police, crime, extradition, social welfare and housing, and media law.

 

Recent examples of high profile and complex cases include SSHD v Othman, the successful challenge of Mr Othman (Abu Qatada) to the decision of the Home Secretary to order his deportation to Jordan; Gary McKinnon v SSHD, the long running battle over Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the United States; J v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, a claim arising out of the intimate sexual relationships which Mark Kennedy (a police officer) had while working undercover with those upon whom he was spying; the Mau Mau case, where elderly Kenyans are seeking compensation for torture during the uprising in 1950s Kenya; Rabone v Pennine Care NHS Trust in which the Supreme Court held that the positive obligation to protect the right to life under Article 2 ECHR applied to informal mental health patients at risk of suicide as well as to detained patients; The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and another v  Wayne Obrey and others, which concerned the compatibility with Convention rights of the Housing Benefit Regulations applicable to a person who had been temporarily absent from home as a result of being detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983; and R  (S and KF) v Secretary of State for Justice a case concerning the whether the levy upon prisoners earnings violated article 1 protocol 1 of the European Convention.

 

The European Court of Human Rights

 

Doughty Street Chambers has a long and successful history of representing applicants before the European Court of Human Rights, including in some of the most important and landmark cases such as Stafford v UK (the right to liberty and life sentenced prisoners), Venables and Thompson v UK (the right to a fair trial and juveniles), Johnson v UK (the right to life and the duty to investigate), and Thynne, Gunnel and Wilson v UK (the right to liberty and mental health).

 

Recent examples of cases where barristers at Doughty Street have successfully represented applicants before the European Court of Human Rights include Aswat v UK, where the European Court unanimously upheld Mr Aswat's Article 3 rights in finding that the extradition of a mentally ill prisoner accused of terrorism to an American "supermax" high security prison would constitute inhuman or degrading treatment; MS v UK where the European Court unanimously found that the detention of a mentally ill man in a police cell for over three days violated his rights under Article 3; F-K v Poland, a rare and successful challenge to the decision to extradite, where the Court made a landmark ruling on Article 8 and the need to have regard to the best interest of children when reaching a decision as to the extradition of their parents; and in the field of crime, Al-Khawaja and Tahery  v UK, a case before the Grand Chamber, where the court held that sole or decisive hearsay evidence is in breach of Article 6.

 

International Tribunals and Foreign Jurisdictions

 

The exceptional International law team at Doughty Street has an extensive and unrivalled experience of appearing before the various international tribunals, including at The Hague, the ICTY, the ICTR as well as the International Criminal Court, and in foreign jurisdictions. Our barristers’ wide and diverse experience in these cases cover such complex and controversial areas of law such as counter-terrorism, war crimes, the death penalty, and extradition.

 

Recent cases include Prosecutor v Henry Kosgey, the successful defence of former Kenyan Minister of Industrialisation, accused of Crimes against humanity before the ICC for his alleged role in election violence in Kenya in 2007; Prosecutor v Zuhdija Tabakovic, the case against a former witness charged with Contempt of the ICTY for agreeing to sign a false witness statement and give false evidence in support of the Milan Lukic defence; Prosecutor v Prlic and others, the representation of a UN international organisation during testimony of a former staff member in closed session proceedings at the ICTY. Members of chambers have also been involved in various Inquiries into atrocities committed during wartime, including in the Al-Sweady Inquiry, a Public Inquiry investigating alleged misconduct and breaches of international law by British armed forces.

 

Lectures and Training

 

Many of our practitioners have also written and lectured extensively on human rights both in the UK and overseas. Examples include training on human rights law for European Roma Rights Centre (Romania) and Interights (Azerbaijan), organising and providing legal and advocacy training to members of Sierra Leone bar to appear at Special Court for Sierra Leone (Freetown, Sierra Leone), as well as training and lectures for members of the Foreign office and for overseas judges and advocats, including in particular for those involved with defending individuals facing the death penalty..

 

Publications

 

Several of our practitioners are the authors or editors of seminal text books on human rights, including Best Practice Guide to Asylum and Human Rights Appeals (2nd edition, Immigration Law Practitioners' Association in association with the Refugee Legal Group, 2003); Delivering Rights: How the Human Rights Act is Working (Hart Publishing, 2003); Race, Religion and Ethnicity Discrimination: Using International Human Rights Law (JUSTICE, 2003); International Criminal Practice(3rd edition, OUP, 2003); "Housing Law" in Barry Clarke (ed.); Challenging Racism: Using the Human Rights Act (Discrimination Law Association, 2003);Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice (2nd edition, Penguin, 2002); and Study Guide to the Human Rights Act 1998 (2nd edition, Home Office/Bar Council, 2002).

Anti - Trafficking

The Doughty Street Anti-Trafficking Team is a cross-disciplinary team with specialist expertise on rights of victims of trafficking within different areas of law in which we are consistently and highly ranked; amongst these:

- crime, including appeals against conviction and CCRC applications;
- criminal remedies, confiscation and compensation orders;
- extradition;
- immigration and asylum;
- public law challenges to decisions under the National Referral Mechanism for victims of trafficking;
- public law challenges in relation to support, assistance, housing;
- court of protection;
- equality and discrimination;
- employment;
- age assessments;
- unlawful detention and false imprisonment;
- claims for compensation - Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
- police actions, including failures to investigate;
- judicial reviews of failures to prosecute and of decisions to prosecute;
- inquests;
- civil claims and claims for damages;
- claims in tort against public authorities and traffickers;
- negligence claims - including failure to identify defences and discontinuance of prosecution
- licensing - Gangmasters Licensing Authority
- corporate accountability and supply chains

Our members have highly specialised knowledge of the interlocking domestic, European, and international legal frameworks specifically designed to protect victims of trafficking.

Members of the team have helped to shape this developing area of law: they frequently act for and work with leading NGOs and campaigners in this field, advise on legislative and policy developments and Consultations, including campaigning for the offence of holding another person in slavery or servitude to be brought into English law through the Coroners and Justice Act 2009; and in relation to legal aid and civil remedies for victims of trafficking in the Modern Slavery Bill currently passing through Parliament.

Members have been involved in some of the leading cases to date; and are also involved in setting up and advising on policy and systemic challenges, working together effectively across the different areas.

Notable cases include:

Gudanaviciene & Ors, R (on the application of) v The Director of Legal Aid Casework & Or [2014] EWCA Civ 1622 – challenge to the refusal of exceptional case funding under LASPO to victims of trafficking for legal advice prior to a reasonable grounds decision by the Competent Authority, as a breach of enforceable EU/Convention rights under the Trafficking Directive 2011/36, Charter rights, the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, Articles 4 and 8 ECHR.

The Queen on the application of Detention Action v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 1634. Detained Fast Track asylum process challenge – including the detention of victims of trafficking.

JVL v. Austria, Application no. 58216/12. The first case concerning the obligations of a transit state towards victims of trafficking. Article 4 ECHR challenge to the refusal to investigate credible allegations of trafficking by three victims of forced labour and trafficking on the basis that parts of the trafficking chain occurred outside of Austria. With the AIRE Centre.

Igbinovia v President of the Criminal Division (Seccion Segunda De La Audencia Provincial De Santa Cruz De Tenerife) [2014] EWHC 4512 (Admin) (09 December 2014) - appeal from the decision of District Judge Snow ordering the appellant's extradition to Spain to serve the balance of a sentence of imprisonment for the importation of cocaine, on the basis that it was wrong to proceed with the extradition hearing when the issue of trafficking was still being considered under the NRM; and as an abuse of process.

R (Atamewan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] 1 WLR 1959 - successful challenge to the Home Office policy on "historical victims" of trafficking resulting in withdrawal of the policy which denied protection and assistance to victims who delayed in approaching the authorities. The Divisional Court also held that the Home Office have an Article 4 positive obligation to trigger an investigation where a credible allegation of trafficking is received. 

R v LZ [2012] EWCA Crim 1867: Conviction of victim of trafficking quashed despite initial guilty plea.

HA CO/12029/2011. Challenge to the treatment of asylum appeals as abandoned where victims of trafficking are granted twelve months leave to remain. Led the Home Office to amend its Asylum Process Instruction on Discretionary Leave so as to grant leave for one year and one day to enable victims to pursue a statutory appeal.

The Government of Lithuania v AI [2010] EWHC 2299 (Admin). Extradition defeated owing to protection concerns because AI had been trafficked into prostitution and was AI of specific assistance to the police in this country in connection with the investigation into trafficking of women for prostitution

 

Team Members: Edward Fitzgerald QCMartin Westgate QCJudith Farbey QCNick BrownStephen Reeder; John WalshQuincy WhitakerDominic Preston; Ulele BurnhamCharlotte Kilroy; Jamie Burton; Ben Cooper; Phil HaywoodCaoilfhionn GallagherRichard ThomasLaura Dubinsky; Ben NewtonMary WestcottAlison PickupSarah SteinhardtAlex GaskCatherine Meredith; Michelle Knorr; Harry LambertTim Cooke-Hurle.

Capacity Rights

Doughty Street Chambers barristers appear regularly in the Court of Protection in cases involving those lacking capacity to make decisions on health or welfare issues. As part of chambers wider commitment to acting for vulnerable people, members of chambers have developed an acknowledged expertise in this area and have authored two well regarded practitioners texts: Butterworth's New Law Guide to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Blackstone's Guide to the Mental Health Act 2007. Some of the interesting cases done by DSC barristers include: DL v A Local Authority [2012] EWCA civ 253: the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction to protect vulnerable adults was not ousted by the MCA; A v E and a Health Authority [2012] EWHC 1639 (the case of an anorexic woman's wish not to eat or be fed); London Borough of Hillingdon v Neary (by his LF the OS) [2011] EWHC 1377 (COP) (article 5 and 8 violations found in relation to a young man with LD who had purportedly been removed from home and detained under the MCA) and [2011] EWHC 413 (the first case in which members of the press were permitted to attend for the duration of the hearing); P(otherwise known as MIG) and Q(otherwise known as MEG)(by their litigation friend, the OS) v Surrey County Council and others [2011] EWCA civ 190:  currently the leading authority on what constitutes a ‘deprivation of liberty’ under the MCA and article 5 and before the Supreme Court in October 2013; RT v LT and A local authority (2010) 13 CCL Rep 580; [2010] EWHC 1910: capacity as to residence and contact under the MCA; A v Independent News and Media Limited and others [2010] EWCA civ 343: the first case to consider the issue of press attendance in the Court of Protection; A Local Authority v A [2010] EWHC 978 (Fam): Court of Protection/family proceedings considering whether restrictions on disabled children living at home constitute a deprivation of liberty.

Linked Practice Areas: CrimeCommunity Care and Health, Housing and Social WelfareInquiries and InquestsMental Health and Court of ProtectionPrison Law  and Criminal Justice.

Children's Rights

Doughty Street Chambers has unparalleled expertise in children’s rights, in a wide range of domestic and international settings. DSC barristers have expertise in the complex legal frameworks which protect children’s rights, including the Children Acts 1989 and 2004, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Beijing Rules.

DSC barristers routinely act for children and families in the courts and work closely with many children’s charities and NGOs.

The public law team has acted in the vast majority of key cases under Part III of the Children Act 1989, including R (Howard League for Penal Reform) v SSHD and DoH (Children Act duties continue to apply to children in custody); R (J) v Caerphilly LBC (assessments and personal advisors); R (S) v Sutton LBC (duties to homeless children leaving custody); R (JL) v Islington LBC (duties to disabled children); R (A) v Croydon (age assessments); and R (G) v Southwark (duties to homeless teenagers).  DSC has expertise in children’s issues which cross traditional practice area boundaries, such as age disputes, trafficking, support needs of disabled children, and ‘best interests’ questions. Members have written the leading textbooks on community care for children, Children in Need: Local Authority Support for Children and Families (LAG, 2011) and Disabled Children: A Legal Handbook (LAG, 2010,).

DSC has also been to the forefront in protecting children detained in immigration detention centres, prison and police cells. Members regularly act for children challenging the lawfulness of their detention, their treatment whilst detained, or the use of force to enforce removal. DSC barristers have been instrumental in establishing the rights of children in the criminal justice system.  They have acted in the leading cases on protecting the current identity or appearance of individuals convicted of notorious crimes when children, including Venables and Thompson and Mary Bell. Internationally, DSC undertakes cutting-edge work in children’s rights, including the Nigeria ‘witch’ children project.

Linked Practice Areas: Crime, Administrative and Public LawCommunity Care and Health, ExtraditionEquality and DiscriminationHousing and Social WelfareImmigration- Asylum and Personal, Inquiries and InquestsPrison Law and Criminal Justice.

 

Criminal Justice Rights

Chambers has been at the heart of rights based developments within the criminal justice sphere.

Chambers has been involved in the leading cases on the right to a fair trial guaranteed under Article 6, from R v Lambert [2002] AC 545 which was one of the early seminal post-Human Rights Act 1998 cases addressing both the retrospective effect of the HRA 1998 in criminal proceedings and the compatibility with Article 6(2) ECHR of the reverse burden of proof, to Al-Khawaja and Tahery v United Kingdom [2011] where the Grand Chambers of the European Court of Human Rights addressed the safety of a conviction based upon sole or decisive hearsay evidence.

We have been involved in most of the significant recent cases involving the rights to freedom of expression and assembly protected in Articles 10 and 11 ECHR including the prosecution of climate change activists that collapsed following the exposure of Mark Kennedy as an undercover police officer, the hijacking of the train on the way to the Drax Power Station and the prosecution of UK Uncut protestors in Fortnum and Mason: R v Bauer and others [2013] EWHC 634.

The European Court of Human Rights in G v UK considered whether the prosecution of a child for consensual but underage activity is in breach of Article 8, and we are currently involved in an ongoing Article 8 based challenge to seek to allow claims in damages for vulnerable defendants who were wrongfully prosecuted: SXH v CPS.

Chambers has been involved in many cases involving the rights of refugees and trafficked victims as well as cases seeking to incorporate into domestic law some of the protections afforded by international human rights instruments: R v Asfaw [2008] 1 AC 1061.

Linked Practice Areas: CrimeAdministrative and Public LawInquiries and InquestsPrison Law and Criminal Justice

 

Detainees' Rights

Doughty Street Chambers brings exceptional expertise, experience and breadth of knowledge to cases concerning deprivation of liberty. Doughty Street’s barristers have been involved in ground breaking litigation on detainees’ rights at all levels to the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights, and in connection with detention of prisoners, immigration detainees, people detained following arrest on suspicion of criminal charges, and those detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 or deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

We regularly act on behalf of detainees seeking to challenge their continued detention, and the conditions of detention. We have extensive experience in bringing claims for damages for past detention, seeing cases through from initial advice to trial and/or settlement. We regularly act in and advise on inquests. We bring multi-disciplinary expertise in immigration, mental health and capacity law, discrimination, community care, private and public international law and criminal law. This enables advice to be given in cases which cross over traditional practice boundaries. We are able to advise on related issues, such as community care provision on release from detention.

Members include authors of the Legal Action Group's Police Misconduct and Foreign National Prisoners: Law and Practice; Blackstone's Guide to the Mental Health Act 2007 and Butterworth's New Law Guide to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and the lead author of the current edition of Sharpe on Habeas Corpus (2011). Members are active in the Police Action Lawyers Group and the Foreign National Prisoners Network.

Some of the key cases in which members have recently acted include: London Borough of Hillingdon v Neary (by his LF the OS) [2011] EWHC 1377 (COP) (article 5 and 8 violations found in relation to a young man with LD who had purportedly been removed from home and detained under the MCA); R (Lumba and Mighty) v SSHD [2011] UKSC 12; [2011] 2 WLR 671 (whether public law error in decision to detain gives rise to tort of false imprisonment and role of causation in liability and damages in false imprisonment generally); R (Kambadzi) v SSHD [2011] UKSC 23; [2011] 1 WLR 1299 (whether breach of a purely procedural policy requirement renders detention unlawful); Marper v UK [2009] 48 EHRR 50 (challenge to policy of retaining DNA of police suspects); R (Saunders) v Independent Police Complaints Commission [2009] EWCA Civ 187 (investigation guidelines for death in custody cases); R (Miller) v Independent Assessor [2009] EWCA Civ 609 (the correct approach to evaluating compensation for loss of liberty); R (JL) v Secretary of State for Justice [2009] 1 AC 588 (threshold for and content of article 2 ECHR investigative duty re near suicide in prison); Iqbal v Prison Officers Association [2009] EWCA Civ 1312; [2010] QB 732 (false imprisonment claim against POA arising out of call on prison officers to strike); Austin v Commissioner of Police [2009] UKHL 5; [2009] 1 AC 564 (compatibility of tactic of detaining protesters by kettling with Article 5 ECHR); Savage v South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust [2008] UKHL 74; [2009] 1 AC 681 (application of Article 2 operational duty to patients detained under the Mental Health Act); G v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [2008] EWCA Civ 28; [2008] 1 WLR 550; [2008] 4 All ER 594 (detention at the police station for charging decision); R (Stellato) v SSHD [2007] 2 AC 70 (retrospective effect of recall provisions in Criminal Justice Act 2003).

Linked Practice Areas: CrimeAdministrative and Public LawImmigration-Asylum and PersonalInquiries and InquestsMental Health and Court of ProtectionPrison Law and Criminal JusticeImmigration Detention.

 

Equality and Discrimination Rights

Almost all of the civil law teams at Doughty Street include practitioners with significant experience of claims with an Equality/Discrimination element. As indicated in the Employment Law and Industrial Relations Team profile, all of the team are skilled in conducting discrimination claims pursuant to the Equality Act 2010 in the employment tribunal and at appellate levels. Similarly, members who practice in Administrative and Public Law, and also such areas of practice as Community Care and Health Immigration, Prisoners Rights and Actions Against the Police, are well versed in using domestic and international anti-discrimination law principles in those specific contexts. Public Law practitioners have been trail-blazing in their use of the public sector equality duty to challenge public law decisions taken in the context of public sector fiscal restraint in a wide range of areas of public sector provision.

Linked Practice Areas: Administrative and Public LawCommunity Care and HealthExtraditionEquality and DiscriminationEmployment Law and Industrial RelationsHousing and Social Welfare.

 

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Doughty Street Chambers is at the forefront of economic, social and cultural rights law.  In addition to covering domestic issues relating to housing, social security, health, education and employment, Doughty Street also works with minority groups in the field of discrimination and cultural participation.  Members of Chambers have been involved in many of the leading cases regarding the positive obligations inherent in Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the ECHR in which specific reference has been made to the UK’s obligations under the UN Conventions on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Rights of the Child and People with Disabilities. Furthermore members of chambers are familiar with the procedures governing the UN Committees and reporting processes and have written and lectured economic, social and cultural rights.

Linked Practice Areas: Community Care and HealthExtradtionEquality and DiscriminationEmployment Law and Industrial RelationsHousing and Social Welfare, Immigration-Asylum and PersonalMental Health and Court of Protection.

Health Rights

We cover all aspects of health rights. Public law cases include challenges arising from NHS Continuing Health Care entitlement, assessment of and planning to meet health needs, direct payments, refusal of treatment, and the interface between NHS and social services provision. We also act in cases relating to the organisation and delivery of health services including consultation rights, the right to be involved, and equality matters. Specific issues arising in the area of mental health include a variety of challenges arising out of detention under the Mental Health Act 1983,  the scope and application of section 117 Mental Health Act, and issues arising under the Mental Capacity Act 1985 including deprivations of liberty in hospitals and disputes in relation to medical treatment.

Linked Practice Areas: Community Care and HealthInquiries and InquestsMental Health and Court of ProtectionPrison Law and Criminal Justice.

 

International Human Rights

Doughty Street Chambers offers outstanding experience and expertise across the full scope of privacy and freedom of expression rights. Its practitioners have appeared in many of the leading cases in this field, whether acting for the media in litigation concerned with open justice and access to information or for individuals seeking to protect their private lives. A particular strength lies in the team’s interdisciplinary expertise in public, criminal and human rights law which provides a breadth of procedural and substantive knowledge in relation to the cross-cutting issues which frequently arise in this field. Members have co-authored leading publications in the field including Media Law (Geoffrey Robertson QC).

Many Doughty Street barristers are involved in human rights cases with an international dimension and in bringing cases before the European Court of Human Rights and other regional bodies such as the African Commission of Human Rights, the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Chambers has a number of barristers who have previously held positions within the United Nations system. Members of the international law team frequently serve in high-level advisory roles, for instance as advisor to the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General dealing with the political transition process in Yemen, to Kofi Annan in his capacity as the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and Arab League on Syria, to the African Union, and to a range of mediation, conflict-resolution and reconciliation initiatives. Mediation work is also done in conjunction with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue based in Geneva. Individual members have been appointed as the UK representative to the UN Human Rights Committee, to the UN Justice Council, and as the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture.

In addition to litigation and legal advice, team members regularly conduct advocacy and human rights training for judges, prosecutors and defence counsel as well as government officials, NGOs, police and military personnel around the globe. Doughty Street barristers have trained the British and US military, NATO, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and judges and lawyers in countries such as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Libya, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda. Team members teach international law and have published leading practitioner guides in this area. Many also regularly appear on television and other media as experts on issues relating to international law.

Linked Practice Areas: CrimeInternationalImmigration-Asylum and Personal.

 

Privacy and Freedom of Expression Rights

Doughty Street Chambers offers outstanding experience and expertise across the full scope of privacy and freedom of expression rights. Its practitioners have appeared in many of the leading cases in this field, whether acting for the media in litigation concerned with open justice and access to information or for individuals seeking to protect their private lives. A particular strength lies in the team's interdisciplinary expertise in public, criminal and human rights law which provides a breadth of procedural and substantive knowledge in relation to the cross-cutting issues which frequently arise in this field. Members have co-authored leading publications in the field including Media Law (Geoffrey Robertson QC) and Duncan and Neill on Defamation (Heather Rogers QC).

Doughty Street barristers have acted in many cases concerned with the tension between privacy rights of individuals and the media's freedom of expression. This includes several landmark challenges to restrictions on the media's access to information, including Re Guardian News and Media [2010] UKSC 1 (the "Alphabet Soup" case) and R (Guardian News & Media) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court [2012] EWCA Civ 420. Doughty Street barristers have featured prominently in ground-breaking claims brought against public authorities on privacy grounds, such as R (on the application of S) v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [2004] UKHL 39, R (on the application of GC) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] UKSC 21, R (on the application of Catt and T) v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [2015] UKSC 9. In many instances members have been involved in the litigation of leading Article 8 and Article 10 ECHR cases in Strasbourg, such as Steel v United Kingdom [2005] EMLR 15, Marper v UK [2009] 48 EHRR 50, MGN Ltd v United Kingdom [2011] EMLR 20, and Axel Springer v Germany (No 2) [2014] ECHR 745.

Linked Practice Areas: Media Law and DefamationMental Health and Court of ProtectionPrison Law and Criminal Justice.

European Human Rights

As a consequence of the UK’s membership of both the EU and the Council of Europe, UK law regularly gives regard to the rights enshrined under both mechanisms. There is an increasing prominence of EU law and human rights law in our domestic courts and Doughty Street Chambers is a leading expert in all areas of European human rights law from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to the European Social Charter.

The rights enshrined in The EU Charter are for example, directly enforceable in national courts if the case involves the application of EU law. This can offer a huge benefit to cases where there is a human rights violation, particularly where damages are concerned. Additionally, The European Convention on Human Rights and Freedoms was incorporated into domestic law through the Human Rights Act 1998. Chambers has extensive experience litigating using the ECHR and the EU Charter in cases both domestically and across Europe. We act for clients around the world who need to rely upon European human rights law and litigate on their behalf before the Strasbourg and Luxembourg Courts. Advocacy before both courts require particular skills and members of chambers have proven experience in litigating before both.

Business and Human Rights and Modern Slavery

As trade and investment become increasingly global, multi-national corporations and other businesses are having a much greater impact on the lives of the communities in which they or their supply chains operate.  NGOs, socially-conscious investors, governments and the media are all scrutinising business operations more than ever before to ensure that the activities of companies are compliant not only with their national and international legal and regulatory obligations, but are also in line with internationally proclaimed standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multi-National Enterprises, the Equator Principles, and others. 

For over 25 years members of Doughty Street International have been regarded amongst the world’s best known and most highly regarded human rights and civil liberties lawyers.  Our team of specialist, independent lawyers and academics advise individuals, companies, States, international organisations and NGOs on issues at the nexus where human rights “soft law” meets “hard” issues of legal liability, risk and regulatory compliance.  We also offer specialist advice to commercial law firms and auditors who are increasingly being asked to assist clients with this fast-developing and complex area. Amongst our team is Elise Groulx Diggs, one of only nine lawyers worldwide ranked by the Chambers and Partners Global Guide to the legal profession, which identifies the leading practitioners in the field of Business and Human Rights law. The guide comments that "Elise is deeply knowledgeable about virtually every facet of the field of business and human rights. Combined with her broad range of contacts internationally, this knowledge carries formidable weight and influence. In addition, Elise has a personal warmth and concern for the people with whom she works, which builds trust, creative energy and a sense of shared vision in her projects."

We also help companies who have a new liability under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.  We can advise on drafting a s.54 statement, and assist them undertake due diligence to ensure they and their supply chains are compliant with their new statutory obligations.  We also offer assistance with drafting anti-slavery and anti-trafficking policies, and help staff implement them through appropriate training.      

Our Business and Human Rights services include:

Litigation, mediation and arbitration of disputes where communities have been adversely affected by the environmental and human rights impacts of business. Members of our team have advised in prominent claims raising business and human rights issues around the world. 

Advising on the obligations of companies under the UNGPs and the OECD Guidelines, either to clients directly, or via their professional advisers.  We can act as an extension to an in-house team, or have business and human rights projects outsourced to us in their entirety, as well as providing strategic and legal advice.  Recent mandates have included providing a major gold refining company with an independent legal opinion on responsible sourcing, and assessing a policy manual prepared by expert consultants to ensure proposed due diligence on sourcing arrangements for precious metals ore from artisanal miners were compliant with the company’s obligations to protect human rights.

We deliver workshops and training courses around the world on how to identify human rights risks and the international human rights standards businesses should meet, both to companies who wish to cascade best practice throughout their management and operational teams, as well as to transactional lawyers and others who have to advise clients on such risks and related issues.

Designing, conducting and advising on internal or other investigations. We work with clients who are seeking to uncover the extent of reported human rights violations by employees, suppliers, contractors and business partners, or to assure themselves no such violations are occurring.  Our long experience of human rights law allows us to suggest practical solutions where such issues are identified.  We also assist those who wish to report confidently on such investigations.

Advising on human rights due diligence, as well as enhanced due diligence in weak governance zones and high risk regions. We regularly work and gather evidence relevant to business risk in conflict and high risk zones, and throughout the 25 years since our foundation have acquired experience of identifying “red flag” legal issues such as war crimes, corruption and bribery, and excessive use of force by private security providers.

Advising on access to remedy (the “Third Pillar” of the UNGPs), as well as offering independent and robust mediation and dispute resolution services in which both communities, indigenous peoples, labour organisations and civil society organisations and companies can have confidence.  We also design and advise on remediation and compensation processes that respect international human rights standards.

To achieve a truly deep understanding of business and human rights issues, we can also call upon our strong links with partner organisations who have extensive experience of security, political and social risk, social licence, corporate and environmental responsibility and community engagement.

Doughty Street Chambers offers comprehensive, creative and commercial advice from some of the most experienced specialists operating in this developing field.  For more information please speak to Maurice MacSweeney on +44 (0)207 400 8906 or send an e-mail.  

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