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‘She has a fantastic legal mind and excellent judgement to go with it.’ Legal 500

Recent plaudits

‘[…] the very carefully presented submissions of Miss Bright […]’: The Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone, then the Judge in Charge of the Administrative Court, in HA (Applicant) v. The Government of the United States of America, the State of New York (Respondent), [2019] EWHC 3838 (Admin), 24th October 2019

‘As it is put by Ms Bright, the central issue in this extradition case – so far as the US alleged crime of international kidnapping is concerned – is whether there was maternal agreement in 2017 to the child's removal by the Applicant to India.  These points provide the essence of the case […].  I am quite satisfied that it has been clearly thoroughly and comprehensively put forward by Ms Bright in the written submissions which she has adopted.  […] the attractive way in which the points have been advanced […]’: The Honourable Mr Justice Fordham in AKP (Applicant) v. The Government of the United States of America, the State of New Jersey (Respondent), Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court [2021] EWHC 2375 (Admin), 24th August 2021

‘We are most grateful for the submissions made by leading and junior counsel for the applicant, Mr Richard Wormald Q.C. and Miss Abigail Bright’: Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, on 27th August 2021, granting leave to appeal sentence in a terrorism case concerning a young autistic man, a mathematics graduate of Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.

'Strategic': Legal department of the British Medical Association; Abigail was instructed by the legal department to advise and defend the British Medical Association at a statutory failure trial; the parties convened for trial on 16th July 2021; the prosecution of the British Medical Association was abortive.

Forthcoming instructions

For six months, September 2021 to March 2022, Abigail is instructed to defend K, the first in indictment order of seven defendants, of fraud of public money (re Operation Larkspur), before the Honourable Mr Justice Goose, Southwark Crown Court. The Crown’s opening note of August 2021 identifies that a total of £1,856,584 was claimed.  The claims pertain to legal costs claimed by lawyers.

Recently concluded cases

At the end of a six-day trial, Abigail successfully applied for the very first unlimited (‘for life’) reporting restriction order to be granted to an acquitted rape defendant, her lay client.  Granting the application, the judge said ‘It is rare, in practice, for the public interest not to be served by the press having freedom to publish (at a minimum) the fact of an acquittal and the name in which a defendant was indicted or otherwise known at a trial.  Counsel has addressed the Court on exactly how two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, articles 2 and 10, exceptionally, were engaged.’

In February 2021, the Criminal Appeal Office instructed Abigail directly in a two-day hearing on a point of law before a special constitution of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division: [2021] 1 W.L.R. 2997, Dame Victoria Sharp PQBD; William Davis J; Johnson J, concerning the impact of, and anomalies created by, terrorism, violence and sex cases with the coming into legal effect on 1st April 2020 of the Release of Prisoners (Alteration of Relevant Proportion of Sentence) Order.

Between March and July 2021, instructed by Corker Binning, Abigail advised an Albanian defendant on how to resist an Italian-issued extradition arrest warrant.  The proceedings resolved when an Italian-based lawyer, acting on Abigail’s advice, secured an ‘in principle’ type of sentence highly favourable to Abigail’s lay client. 

In July 2021, Abigail defended in Operation Gnathonize at Southwark Crown Court, a National Crime Agency surveillance operation of a businessman re perverting the course of justice.  From December 2020, Abigail advised the same lay client on related civil proceedings re alleged breaches of an all-assets restraint order obtained by the National Crime Agency re an application to commit to prison for contempt.  In March 2021, at the committal hearing for contempt of a court order, proved by several breaches of the order, Abigail persuaded a court not to imprison her lay client for contempt and a community-based penalty was passed.

In July 2021, Abigail successfully applied for bail in the Administrative Court for a Somalian national arrested on a conviction-type Greek-issued arrest warrant; the application was opposed and there was no presumption in the applicant’s favour of bail; the applicant, convicted of human trafficking, was liable to serve a sentence of six and a half years’ imprisonment: Omar (Rahima Abdi) v. Prosecutors’ Office at the Appeal Court of Thessaloniki, Greece at [2021] EWHC 2136 (Admin).

In August 2020, Edward Fitzgerald Q.C. and Abigail, instructed by Karen Todner, were granted permission to appeal on the very first point of pure law in an extradition case arising from the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.  The point pertained to Germany’s constitutional non-reciprocity, nationality, bar.

In January 2020, Abigail’s appeal against extradition to Slovakia was allowed: the extradition order was quashed and orders made for immediate discharge and release from prison, the Respondent judicial authority having applied to adjourn the hearing: Cerci v. Slovakian Judicial Authority [2020] EWHC 208 (Admin).

In 2020 and 2021, Abigail was instructed as sole counsel for two defendants facing American extradition requests, one originating in New York (accused of tens of conspiracies to commit banking (‘wire’) frauds and money-laundering) and one in New Jersey (accused of international child kidnap).  In August 2020, the first defendant, a Nigerian citizen and a naturalised British citizen, sought by New York, became eligible for bail upon surrender to New York; this was due to extensive liaison between the British-based and New York-based instructed lawyers and the relevant Assistant United States Attorney.  The New York prosecutor’s opening note for the extradition hearing stated: ‘More than $2.3M was stolen and diverted to the accounts of this man and his co-conspirators by tricking the victim banks and corporate entities into thinking one of their vendors had changed suppliers’.

In 2019 and 2020, Abigail was instructed as leading counsel, leading junior counsel, re-trial, to defend a young autistic man accused of membership of a proscribed terrorist organisation (Operation Cycler I; Operation Cycler II).   Another of Abigail’s lay clients was the sole one of five to be acquitted of terrorism-related offending in Operation Gorlois after a trial of six weeks.  In May 2020, Abigail obtained a conditional discharge after trial for the leader of the far-right political group, Britain First, upon conviction for a Schedule 7 Terrorism Act offence.  Abigail has advised on numerous such Schedule 7 Terrorism Act arrests.

Overview

Abigail is a leading barrister.  She leads junior barristers and accepts instructions in all chambers’ many practice areas.  Abigail specialises in extradition and special jurisdiction work and several fields of public and civil law work.  She is routinely instructed to advise on Indian, American, Australian, and other Part II extraditions.  Between 2010 and 2019, she was instructed as counsel in four major public inquiries.  She holds Developed Vetting and works off-list for several government departments and directly for the Registrar of Criminal Appeals.  She advises on private prosecutions and successfully defends environmental law prosecutions.   

In July 2021, Middle Temple appointed Abigail the Inn’s Deputy Course Director for its pupillage advocacy training, deputy to Master Paul Garlick.  Abigail taught advocacy at the Inn’s intensive and residential weekends in July and August 2021.  Abigail is an accredited Inns of Court College of advocacy trainer and is qualified to be a pupil supervisor.  In October 2021, a pupil based at the Crown Prosecution Service in London will undertake part of his qualifying pupillage with Abigail.

Abigail is a guest lecturer for psychiatry registrars at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, and has been since 2010. She holds a diploma in forensic medical science, the Dip.FMS, awarded after competitive examination by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in conjunction with Barts and the London School of Medicine.  Abigail’s dissertation argued the case for doping in sport.  Abigail serves on the independent Forensic Science Advisory Council of the Forensic Science Regulator and has done since 2017.  Abigail also serves on two Home Office committees – the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group and the Forensic Science Regulatory Committee.  By invitation, she attends the ‘Science and the Law’ programme of lectures at the Royal Society.

Abigail has joint responsibility for advocacy training hosted by the Kalisher Trust, a Bar charity, at the Royal Courts of Justice and the Central Criminal Court.  In 2021, Alison Levitt Q.C. and Abigail are refreshing the Trust’s safeguarding policies.

In October 2019, Middle Temple’s Master Treasurer asked Abigail to give the Inn’s most prestigious lecture, the ‘Grand Day’ lecture (‘The Case Against Julian Assange’). That month, Counsel Magazine published Abigail’s article on the Assange case.

When a new tenant, Abigail was led by Joe Stone Q.C. in four murder trials – one involving the rare psychiatric disorder of morbid jealousy, Central Criminal Court.

At the very start of her practice, Abigail gained experience of cutting-edge public law cases.  Abigail appeared before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal for one of three claimant Members of Parliament in proceedings to enforce the meaning, effect and status of the so-called ‘Harold Wilson doctrine’ against respondent intelligence and security services (re whether interception of parliamentary communications complied with the ECHR art.8, art.9 and art.10): (1) Caroline Lucas MP, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb AM; (2) George Galloway v. Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service, Government Communications Headquarters, Secretary of State for The Home Department, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Abigail has appeared for successful claimants in judicial reviews of the issue and execution of search warrants and production orders – one a Practice Note – involving claimants who were practising solicitors where issues of LPP arose:

  • R. (on the application of Kouyoumjian) v. Hammersmith Magistrates' Court [2014] EWHC 4028 (Admin); [2015] Crim. L.R. 455 (a search warrant was quashed, and seized property was returned, where the warrant had been issued and executed in relation to drug offences, but the police indicated that they wished to retain the property in connection with fraud offences; police had given no information as to why and when the focus of the investigation had changed from drugs to fraud)

  • R. (on the application of, AB, CD) v. Huddersfield Magistrates' Court, The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (re a costs decision) [2014] EWHC 2179 (Admin) ([10] ‘Standing back once more, we consider that this level of costs is high but not disproportionate for a case of considerable importance to the Claimants in circumstances where the Defendants continued to describe their claim as being without merit to the end.’ [11] ‘We therefore assess costs summarily in the sum of £63,508.17.’)

  • R. (on the application of AB and another) v. Huddersfield Magistrates' Court and another [2015] 1 W.L.R. 4737 (a specific premises warrant issued by a magistrates' court pursuant to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.8 was unlawful: the police had failed to inform the court that the occupants of the premises were solicitors, which on the facts was a relevant consideration; further, the warrant was unfocused in respect of the articles sought)

  • R. (S and others) v. Chief Constable of the British Transport Police and another, A Practice Note [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1647 (re search warrants for excluded material and special procedure material at solicitors' premises quashed for failure to comply with the requirements of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.9 and Sch.1)

On Abigail’s first day in tenancy, led by Edward Fitzgerald Q.C., her lay client’s appeal against a whole life order, which Edward and Abigail argued was wrong in principle, was allowed; a minimum term was fixed at 40 years; the Court was persuaded that the sentencing judge had wrongly sentenced on the basis that the applicant had ‘killed before’, evidence establishing the applicant's guilt of an offence charged on the indictment having been deployed as similar fact evidence: Restivo v. The Queen [2013] Q.B. 979.  Edward and Abigail continue (to 2021) to defend in related extradition proceedings pertaining to the same applicant.

When a pupil, Abigail successfully applied for an exceptional type of order, a solicitors’ costs order, to fund preparatory work done by solicitors when contacting Médecins sans Frontières and other professionals to appeal against sentence.  Allowing the appeal and granting the exceptional order, Lord Justice Leveson observed ‘Yes, that would be extremely unusual, wouldn't it.  I can't think of a sentence appeal where we would normally afford a representation both for solicitor and counsel.  The court is not at all sure that all the work that [the solicitor] has put into this case was entirely necessary, but, having regard to the circumstances and subject to appropriate assessment, we shall grant you legal aid both for solicitor and counsel.’: Mildred Yesenia Terraza De Leon v. The Queen [2013] EWCA Crim 198 (sentence of five years' imprisonment reduced to four years’ imprisonment; importation of class A drugs; new mitigating factors allowed the court to place her in a lesser role within the guidelines).

When a pupil, Abigail was instructed by solicitors at a City civil fraud department, acting for Commerzbank AG, for twelve weeks, to note a multi-handed fraud trial.

Abigail has a Distinction in the Bachelor of Civil Law, BCL, from Balliol College, Oxford, in jurisprudence, winning a Balliol College graduate scholarship based on her performances at her undergraduate examinations.  Abigail was Called to the Bar by Middle Temple in July 2010 and awarded a Queen Mother Scholarship for her full Bar vocational course fees and accommodated at the Inn for her Bar year. 

Abigail won Middle Temple’s Speed Moots competition at a knock-outs weekend. 

Abigail won both rounds of the United Nations Model Debates in Istanbul in 2010. 

Whilst reading for the Bar, Abigail taught criminal law, evidence and jurisprudence at University College, London.  She taught European Union constitutional and competition law whilst reading for the Bachelor in Civil Law.  Abigail was a researcher in law for Professor Ashworth at All Souls College.  Abigail won the Dean’s Prize for the highest overall mark for her Law finals examinations.  In the same year she won the Jeremy Bentham Prize for Jurisprudence and Political Theory which led to her spending a paid year to edit her university’s law journal.  She went on to be appointed at University College, London, both as an honorary teaching fellow in law and an honorary researcher in law, starting first in the English department, then in History, and then in Law.  Abigail worked on security-level research in law on judicial corruption among European national courts.

Before reading for the Bar, Abigail was engaged as a solicitors’ agent for six months at a multi-handed mass cocaine importation trial conducted before the Resident Judge at Oxford Crown Court.  Abigail gained an early and comprehensive insight into high quality trial litigation.  An acquittal resulted. 

Abigail served as counsel to four public inquiries between 2010 and 2019, non-statutory and statutory.  She was instructed by Eversheds LLP for the Department of Health as noting counsel to the Mid Staffordshire General NHS Hospital Trust Inquiry between 2010 and 2011.  She was instructed by Fieldfisher LLP as counsel to the inquiry at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in 2016.  She was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor’s Department as counsel to the inquiry at the Undercover Policing Inquiry from 2016 to 2018 and as counsel to the inquiry at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in 2019.  Abigail has a proven grasp of the Inquiries Act 2005.  She is well-placed to act for interested parties at public inquiries and for interested persons, including bereaved families, at coroners’ inquests.

Abigail has appeared for families at inquests involving deaths in custody where coroners must sit with jurors.  In July 2020, Abigail demonstrated to Inn students the role of counsel for a bereaved family in a mock coroners’ inquest convened before Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Inner West London.  The day was filmed to be used as an advocacy teaching aid.  Abigail persuaded the Coroner that a finding of suicide would be unsafe and should not be made after a hanging where there had been no toxicology tests obtained to demonstrate whether the deceased had consumed cocaine, the family having balked at a finding of suicide.

Abigail appears in the Court of Appeal Civil Division to defend applications to commit to prison – whether for breaches of High Court all-assets restraint orders or insurance cash-for-cash frauds.  Abigail has a busy practice challenging search warrants, production orders and assets freezing orders.  She attends on site at business offices when HMRC executes searches and she sits in with solicitors to advise on interviews under caution by foreign investigators liaising with HMRC.

Abigail successfully advised a serving member of the Metropolitan Police Service on how to engage with police before several voluntary interviews under caution.  She accepts instructions both in cases for the Police Federation and against police.

Abigail serves on the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee.  She was elected by her peers to serve on the Criminal Bar Association from 2017 to 2020 and drafted responses to various consultations.  Law reform is of real interest to Abigail.  She serves as a committee member of an independent law reform organisation, the Criminal Law Reform Now Network (CLRNN), established in 2017 and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, founded by academics at Oxford and Cambridge, hosting conferences on law reform at Oxford and Cambridge.  

In 2016, Abigail gave a lecture on English law reform at All Souls College, University of Oxford, to a delegation of standing law commissioners from the Nordic countries.  Between 2007 and 2009, Abigail was the secretary of the Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) whilst a graduate student.  The programme is run by the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford: it assists solicitors and barristers and prepares reports for committees such as the Joint Committee of Human Rights.  In 2008 Abigail was one of the OPBP Burma (Myanmar) research team consisting of a group of postgraduate law students whose report was published in April 2008.

Abigail is a co-author of The Drugs Offences Handbook, first published by Bloomsbury Press in 2018.

Abigail’s younger brother at Lamb Chambers is a Waterstones best-selling author, having published the second edition of ‘A Practical Guide to the Small Claims Track’.

Abigail kept wicket both for and against the Marylebone Cricket Club and kept wicket for three counties – Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire. 

Abigail really enjoys yachting.  In November 2020, Abigail was elected to serve the London Sailing Club as a Club officer at the Club’s annual general meeting.  The Club presents classes on sailing instruction and tides theory.  Abigail helps to organise the Club’s monthly social evening at a venue on the Southbank.  She is also a member of the Bar Yacht Club.  With the London Sailing Club, Abigail sailed in the 2021 Round the Island race, on a chartered yacht, Fleur de Lys.  Fair seas and following winds meant the Club finished in 9 hours, 12 minutes and 52 seconds. 

Abigail runs the London Marathon for Middle Temple charities.

Abigail was educated at Newport Girls’ High Court in Shropshire, a State school.  She was the captain of her school’s debating team for debates at the Oxford Union.