"Founded on a commitment to human rights and social justice, this large and diverse defence set "provides quality law and fearless advocacy" and "counsel that is always of the highest calibre." Garden Court Chambers has a strong international crime team and members who specialise in judicial review, prison law and extradition. It also has something of a reputation for complex and serious fraud matters."
Chambers UK 2013
"Over the years, it has handled a torrent of criminal work and has individuals skilled and seasoned enough to impress the market. Its myriad members have a strong work ethos and are "responsive and supportive to solicitors."
Chambers UK 2012
"Garden Court Chambers' team of 16 silks and 40 juniors is one of the 'most rounded' at the criminal Bar. David Spens QC is 'one of the very best in a world increasingly saturated with QCs', and Henry Blaxland QC is 'a smooth and fluid advocate who does not make bad points'. Shiraz Aziz is 'fearless in court', and up-and-coming junior Tom Wainwright 'cross-examines expert witnesses with considerable skill'.
The Legal 500, 2012
"Garden Court Chambers' counsel are 'innovative, friendly and willing to take up any challenges'. Newly appointed silk James Scobie QC is 'extremely professional and completely dedicated to his clients', and David Spens QC 'uses the intelligent strategy and tactical analysis of a military general'. Richard Harvey is 'inspirational', and Tom Wainwright 'never gives up on a case'."
The Legal 500 2011
Our criminal defence team is known for its fighting spirit, fearless commitment to clients and unwavering determination to be a voice for those disadvantaged by poverty, discrimination, racism and abuses of State power. The team is extremely diverse and is the largest in chambers consisting of 50 practitioners, including 15 silks. We have defended in - and won - many of the landmark cases that have defined modern criminal law. Indeed the earliest case on lost evidence and abuse of process (R v Birmingham and Others) was an argument taken by members of the team.
Historically, we have been instructed in all the major public order trials emanating from political and / or other beliefs, beginning with the Mangrove Nine trial in 1971 and continuing over the years with trials originating from the Balcombe Street Siege, the miners' strike (including the Orgreave Riot trial), anti-apartheid demonstrations, anti-poll-tax demonstrations, the Whitemoor prison escape, the uprising of the Yarslwood immigration detainees, GM crops protesting (in particular representing members of Greenpeace), the May Daydemonstrations and animal rights protesting. We are proud to have played our part in developing the concept of community self-defence in trials arising out of racial tension such as the Bradford Twelve, the Newham Seven, the Newham Eight and more recently, the Burnley, Oldham and Bradford trials. Since the introduction of SOCPA 2005, we have been instructed in many of the first prosecutions under the Act (such as on behalf of the anti-war protestors Brian Haw and Milan Rai, and most recently in the first prosecution of animal rights protestors pursuant to s.145 of SOCPA, R v Kirtley and others). We also regularly represent arms trade protestors (see for example, R v Anwyn Jones & others).
Additionally we have strong appellate expertise, having being instructed in seminal miscarriage of justice cases / CCRC referrals such as the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, Judith Ward, Carl Bridgewater, Derek Bentley, Johnson, Davis and Rowe, Hanratty and R v Pendleton (now the leading case in "fresh evidence" appeals). Our recent successful appeals include the fresh evidence case of Suzanne Holdsworth (the Teesside baby-sitter) and R v Altaf Hussain (the last in a long line of CCRC referrals from the 80s and 90s known as the Pakistani controlled delivery cases). Another aspect of our appellate work is pro bono death penalty appeals in the Privy Council arising mainly from convictions in the Caribbean.
In recent times we have been instructed in the majority of the high profile terrorism trials including Ricin, Omagh, R v Khyam & Others (the "fertiliser bomb plot" trial), the "dirty bomb" trial and the "airlines plot" trial. We have also been involved in challenges to the terrorism legislation itself and the availability of defences in such cases (for example, R v Rowe) as well as challenges to the sentencing regimes (R v Bharot, Attorney General's References (Nos. 85, 86 & 87 of 2007) sub nom R v Tsouli, Mughal & Al-Daour). We have been instructed in the earliest prosecutions for breaches of control orders and continue to challenge the ambit of the law on "reasonable excuse" in this context.
Whilst we have a strong presence at the Old Bailey and have defended in many high profile murder cases (for example, the much publicised 2002 Damilola Taylor trial; and more recently the murders of City lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce; the City banker John Monckton; PC Nasri and the Hammersmith school boy Kodjo Yenga), we are instructed in trials covering the spectrum of criminality all over England & Wales. Members of the team are regularly instructed in the whole range of fraud cases from carousel and white collar to VAT and housing benefit, as well as money laundering and confiscation cases. We have also challenged the sentencing regime under the CJA 2003, in particular IPP sentences, adding to the wealth of case law on the subject.
The international dimension of the criminal defence work we do has grown considerably in recent times. Members of our team are currently instructed in war crimes cases in the Special Court of Sierra Leone and The Hague (representing the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor). Other members of the team provide ECHR training to emerging states and are involved in conflict and post-conflict resolution around the world.
We share a multidisciplinary approach with others in Chambers and a number of us also practice in the fields of judicial review (in particular challenges to youth court practice and procedure), extradition, inquests into deaths in custody (as well as deaths in hospitals and army barracks), police actions, mental health review tribunals, and prison law. The expertise within Chambers means we are also able to call on other specialists in immigration and family law to assist in specific cases as appropriate. We also have a particular expertise in the now vast range of quasi-criminal orders (such as ASBOs) which are available both on a stand-alone and post-conviction basis.
Another related area, in which we have played a part in exposing institutional racism, is in the field of public inquiries. Members of the team represented the CRE and Duwayne Brookes in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (which resulted in the publication of Macpherson Report, regarded by many as a defining moment in British race relations) and the family of Zahid Mubarek in the Mubarek Inquiry.
Many of our team have written, lectured (both nationally and internationally), appeared on the television and spoken on the radio in relation to crime, the criminal justice system, youth justice, human rights and civil liberties. Some of the team are authors of text books and / or contributors to legal journals and criminal text books, including Blackstone's.
This set continues to expand, and now boasts well over 100 tenants. "A modern set of criminal chambers with an efficient and determined set of barristers and clerks," Garden Court "fully understands and tirelessly seeks to satisfy the needs of its clients." Chambers & Partners 2008
"With a sizeable contingent of lawyers handling criminal matters, it is respected by solicitors for its "tremendous strength and undoubted zeal." Chambers & Partners 2008
"Garden Court Chambers is respected for its commitment to social justice, acting in some of the most important and complex crime trials and appeals." Legal 500 2007
"The criminal practitioners at this civil liberties set are renowned for the "absolute commitment and belief" that they bring to every case they work on." Chambers and Partners 2006
Though based in London, we work all over the country. Through our ties to Garden Court North Chambers, we have a strong presence in Manchester. Two of our team also live in Leeds and Sheffield.
Our crime team is supported by its own, dedicated team of clerks. The clerks strive for efficiency and are known for their commitment. They are always keen to meet professional clients to ensure that the service required is one which we consistently provide, whether it is fee-based or pro bono. If you would like more information about our crime team email the clerks firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7993 7624.
Members of the Crime team are listed below - click on their names to go to their profiles.