Public Law

Public law is at the forefront of all our work and one of the main tools that can be used to make the state and its tribunals more accountable and accessible.

We pursue public law challenges in all areas ranging through inquests, police complaints, immigration detention powers, prisoners’ rights, data retention and criminal appeals.

All of our lawyers have experience in pursuing public law challenges as this remedy is integral to all aspects of our work and the service we provide.

What is public law?
Public law allows the courts to review the actions and decisions taken by the state to ensure that they are lawful and that fair and appropriate procedures are followed.

The most common public law remedy is through judicial review, although challenges can also be pursued through declarations in claims for damages, inquest verdicts, Ombudsman and complaints schemes, public inquiries and the European Court on Human Rights.

The types of challenge that we have made for our clients include:

Challenges to legislation
This can ensure that new laws are interpreted and implemented so that they operate in accordance with fundamental human rights. We have challenged numerous laws including those relating to:

  • The police retention of DNA and fingerprint samples from innocent citizens;
  • The manner in which sentences are fixed for people convicted of murder; and
  • The test to be applied when released prisoners are recalled to prison.

Entitlement to reasons
People should be given full and proper reasons for decisions that affect their rights. We have succeeded in achieving a right to properly reasoned decisions on behalf of:

  • Prisoners in respect of decisions affecting their release;
  • Prisoners in respect of their categorisation; and
  • Bereaved families in respect of decisions not to prosecute police officers concerned in their loved one’s deaths.

Coroners' decisions
We have challenged Coroners:

  • In respect of their conduct of inquests; and
  • Concerning their discretion to convene inquests in certain cases.

Police complaints
The investigation of police complaints raises many concerns and we have challenged:

  • The adequacy of investigations undertaken;
  • The quality of decisions reached by the Independent Police Complaints Commission;
  • Decisions to exclude victims from the process of investigation; and
  • The legality of permitting police officers to retire and thereby escape disciplinary sanction.

Prosecutions
Where victims of crime have concerns about how their cases have been handled by the police and the prosecuting authorities, we have represented people in challenges to:

  • The legality of decisions not to prosecute police officers;
  • The lack of openness and transparency in the process; and
  • The prosecution of asylum seekers.

Police forces
The police make many decisions that impact on people's rights and we have acted in cases challenging:

  • The administration of cautions and reprimands and how the police use this information;
  • Police decisions not to investigate serious offences; 
  • The retention and use of police intelligence; and
  • The retention of DNA and fingerprint samples.

Data Retention
We have represented NGOs and individuals in cases seeking to ensure control over the state's use of personal data before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

 

 
 
  • Public Law

"Their work is meticulous. All of the people there work as a team. There is a real discussion of strategy, a give and take relationship with a view to developing the law. They are at the top of their game."

Chambers & Partners 2018