Since our foundation in 1990, we have been protecting the rights of individuals from the abuse of power by State bodies; this ethos runs across the entirety of the work of Chambers.

We are particularly well-known for our work in holding the police to account, and other agencies involved in the criminal justice system, including in prisons (see our section on Prison Law, accessed at the foot of this page). For over a decade we have been ranked by industry directories including Chambers & Partners as the clear market leader in this specialist field.  With junior barristers through to senior KCs being cited as experts, we offer genuine strength in depth.

We are frequently at the cutting edge of legal developments in this area, appearing in many landmark Supreme Court cases. We are regularly engaged in civil compensation claims, judicial review challenges and significant appeals. Our work helps ensure that the wide powers of the police and other investigators are not abused. It includes:

  • Bringing substantial civil claims for damages for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and misfeasance in public office. We act in the ongoing Hillsborough misfeasance group litigation and appeared in the recent seminal Supreme Court cases on suing the police in negligence (Robinson v CC of West Yorkshire Police; and Michael v CC of South Wales).

  • Using our expertise in human rights law, we have brought many claims under the Human Rights Act, including where there have been deficient investigations (most notably, the recent Supreme Court decision confirming the Article 3 ECHR investigative duty: DSD v Metropolitan Police Commissioner), discrimination and curtailment of rights to protest.

  • Obtaining public law remedies to challenge the illegal exercise of police powers, including search and seizure operations and disclosure failures; and helping victims of crime re-open decisions not to prosecute cases. We also help clients challenge the determination of police complaints.

  • Using our cutting-edge knowledge of data law in bringing judicial review applications to remove personal data which is unnecessarily held on police databases and challenging inaccurate information on Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates and provision of historic information to employers. High-profile examples include: (R (Catt) v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (lawfulness of police retention of sensitive information) and R (T, JB & AW) v SSJ (disclosure of childhood cautions on enhanced criminal record certificates).

  • Developing strategic litigation to bring about changes in the law, for example in relation to the holding of children in police cells.

  • Helping those who have suffered miscarriages of justice seek redress and compensation, including challenging the narrow terms of the existing statutory scheme: R (Hallam) v SSJ (see also our Criminal Appeals page).

  • Representing victims at public inquiries, including the ongoing Undercover Policing Inquiry and the inquiry into the police shooting of Anthony Grainger.

  • Advising where both civil claims and inquests are involved. We have a particular expertise in cases involving deaths in custody and deaths from police shootings. Team members represent the families of Mark Duggan, Rashan Charles and Olseni Lewis and acted for the bereaved at the Hillsborough inquests. (See also our Inquests & Inquiries page.).

  • We also challenge illegal arrest and detention by other agencies, including the Home Office in immigration cases, the military, and HM Revenue and Customs.

Please also see our Administrative and Public Law page to learn more about how we hold other government bodies to account for their unlawful or irrational acts.

Team members benefit from the overlapping areas of specialism in Chambers, including in criminal law, inquestsmental health, large-scale person injury claims and international law issues.

To find out more about our work in this area, or to discuss the work of our barristers, please contact Melvin Warner from our practice management team.

What the directories say

The Legal 500 2024 - Tier 1

"Doughty Street continues to be the powerhouse in this area – a great team."

"Excellent, hugely strong team, suitable counsel are always found to deal with issues which arise at short notice – my go to Chambers."

"Doughty Street Chambers as a set are amongst the most competent barristers in this area of law. All barristers are personable, smart, hard working and dedicated to this field."

Chambers and Partners 2024 - Band 1

"The clerks are excellent and always on hand to assist with whatever the query. They ensure instructing any counsel is seamless."

Chambers and Partners 2023 - Band 1

"Doughty Street Chambers offers a formidable bench of barristers who have a deep knowledge of actions against the police."

"Doughty Street has responsive and friendly clerks, offering a really usable service."

The Legal 500 2023 - Tier 1

"Doughty Street are one of the best sets undertaking claimant police law work. They have a set of highly committed barristers who have been involved in some of the biggest cases involving the examination of police powers." 

"Doughty Street is, in my opinion, the leading set in the field with an extraordinarily strong police law practice. It provides excellence."

Prison Law

Doughty Street has always been the home of prison law. Its practitioners have been involved in many of the leading House of Lords cases over the last two decades, cases which have brought about important advances in prisoners’ rights but also the development of key principles in human rights and administrative law.

In the last decade prison law has become markedly more complex. Over this time we have seen the creation of new sentences including the disastrous IPP, an ever growing prison population with the resulting pressure on the prison estate to deliver humane regimes and an increasing number of vulnerable prisoners. New populations of long-term prisoners, such as immigration detainees have emerged. Prison lawyers have also come to look beyond the prison gate as awareness has grown about the need to protect prisoners on release, or new coercive criminal justice measures such as control orders have been introduced.

Doughty Street fields a team of prison law practitioners across all call levels who have the additional expertise needed in all related fields such as human rights, immigration, national security, inquests, mental health law and community care.