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Gráinne Mellon

  • Call: 2010
Grainne Mellon


Gráinne is a public law specialist with particular expertise in human rights and equality law. She has a broad domestic law practice which includes immigration, unlawful detention and trafficking, community care and Court of Protection, children’s rights and employment and discrimination law.

In addition to her domestic practice, Gráinne also acts and advises in international and European human rights law and in international criminal law. In 2013, Gráinne was awarded a Pegasus scholarship to complete a fellowship at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York where she worked on national security, international human rights and Guantanamo Bay cases.

Gráinne lectures in International Human Rights Law at the London School of Economics and is on the Executive Committee of the Bar Human Rights Committee, the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales.

Prior to joining the Bar, Gráinne worked in the European Commission, the International Criminal Court and the House of Lords.

Gráinne was admitted to both the Bar of Ireland and the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2013.

She is able to accept instructions from members of the public on a direct access basis.

Public and Administrative Law

Gráinne provides advice and representation in judicial review and human rights challenges arising in a range of areas including education, immigration and asylum (including detention), community care and claims arising out of the criminal justice and coronial system. The breadth of Gráinne’s public law practices means she is well-placed to advise on cross-over cases in her core areas.

Gráinne is frequently instructed in urgent cases under s. 17 and 20 Children Act 1989, including in cases involving inter-authority disputes. She represents claimants in public law challenges relating to community care assessments, child in need assessments, the provision of services and support and the on-going duties owed to care leavers. She has particular expertise in cross-over immigration and community care cases and regularly represents victims of trafficking, unaccompanied and age disputed migrant children.

Gráinne has expertise in the full spectrum of Court of Protection work and regularly represents family members, local authorities and the Official Solicitor in fact-finding and best interests hearings.

In education law, Gráinne is instructed in both schools, higher education and regulatory cases. She has a particular expertise in the disability discrimination aspects of these claims. She is instructed in special educational needs (SEN) appeals and represents parents, schools and local authorities in exclusion and admission cases. Gráinne also represents students and institutions in further and higher education matters including in internal disciplinary and complaint hearings, fitness-to-practise matters and in respect of appeals to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (“OIA”).

In immigration, Gráinne is regularly instructed in First Tier and Upper Tier Tribunal on the full range of asylum, deportation, detention, family reunion and Article 8 appeals. She has particular expertise in migrant children cases and also acts and advises on the civil penalties regime in employer and carrier’s liability cases (including county court appeals). Gráinne is presently instructed in the test case challenge to the operation and practice of the Detained Asylum Casework system.

Employment, Equality and Professional Regulation

Gráinne is instructed in a wide range of employment cases including unfair and constructive dismissal, redundancy, whistleblowing and multiple discrimination claim cases. Mostly recently, Gráinne represented a female physics technician in a high profile equal pay and sex discrimination case against a leading public school.

In addition to her trial advocacy, Gráinne maintains a busy advisory practice. Her expertise in education and immigration law means she is well-placed to advise on cross-over cases in these areas. Gráinne is frequently instructed in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, including most recently in test-case litigation concerning the rights and status of interns in the workplace.

Gráinne has a particular interest in equality and discrimination law including in a non-employment context. She was instructed by the National Secular Society to advise on the Government’s obligations to activate s.9(5) of the Equality Act 2010 prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of caste.

Gráinne represents clients before the full range of professional and regulatory bodies and in particular deals with fitness to practice hearings before the Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Medical Council and the Health Professions Council. She also advises and represents professionals facing baring by the Disclosure and Barring Service including the Adult and/or Children’s Barred List.

Gráinne is a Guest Lecturer on the LLM in Employment Law at the London School of Economics.

Family Law

Gráinne has acted for parents, children and local authorities in the full range of private and public family law matters, including final hearings. She acts in international family law cases including abduction, international adoption and relocation cases and has experience in FGM and forced marriage cases. Gráinne is frequently instructed both as an expert and advocate in cases involving issues of Irish law and in cases involving discrete human rights points. She also provides expert advice in immigration and family proceedings relating to public law, discrimination and community care matters.

International Law

Gráinne undertakes advisory work, litigation, teaching and training in international and European human rights law and in international criminal law. She has most recently been instructed by Reprieve to advise on the case of Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen detained in Egypt for over two years who faces a mass trial alongside 493 other Defendants.

In addition to her litigation and advisory work, Gráinne undertakes trial observations and fact finding missions in international human rights law including on behalf of both the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), of which she is on the Executive Committee and the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBA HRI). In 2016, she travelled with Steve Cragg QC to Calais to undertake a fact-finding mission in relation to police violence in the camps. In 2015, she was appointed as a trial observer in the Anwar Ibrahim trial in the Federal Court of Malaysia. In July 2013, Gráinne was part of a delegation to Nigeria where she delivered training on behalf of UNICEF to the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission on children’s rights and international law.

In 2013, Gráinne was awarded a Pegasus scholarship to complete a fellowship at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York where she worked on national security, international human rights and Guantanamo Bay cases.

Gráinne has acted in an advisory capacity to organizations involved in litigation before the UN Human Rights Committee and the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States. She was part of the drafting team instructed by Open Society Justice Initiative in Askarov v Kyrgyz Republic, before the UN Human Rights Committee.

Gráinne is on the Panel of Assistants to Counsel at the International Criminal Court and has been appointed as an expert to the Panel of the Legal Expertise Access Platform (LEAP).

Academic Work: Teaching, Training, Research

Gráinne teaches International Human Rights Law to LLM students in the London School of Economics where she is an active member of the Law Department. She is also a Lecturer and Fellow at LSE’s Center for Human Rights. Grainne is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Gráinne teaches advocacy and refugee law at BPP Law School and is accredited to provide advocacy training by the Advocacy Training Council.

Reported Cases

  • Re EQ [2016] EWHC 3418 (Fam) – Urgent consent to medical treatment case under the inherent jurisdiction of the Family Division of the High Court; concerning a baby diagnosed with bilateral congenital cataracts shortly after birth and whether it was in her best interests to be operated on under general anaesthetic to treat the condition.
  • Hossain and others v SSHD [2016] EWHC 1331 (Admin) – Test case (with four representative claimants) on the lawfulness of the “Detained Asylum Casework” system; granted declaration that SSHD failed to have regard to equality duties in considering asylum claims in detention.
  • Re AO (Care Proceedings) [2016] EWFC 36 – High Court case on when and whether a woman’s decision to give her child up for adoption is likely to meet the threshold criteria for a care order pursuant to s. 31 Children Act 1989 – see coverage in the Guardian and Family Law Week
  • A v London Borough of Enfield [2016] EWHC 567 (Admin) – Unlawful failure to accept radicalized and homeless teenage girl as a Child in Need pursuant to s. 17 Children Act 1989 and to provide accommodation under s. 20 Children Act 1989): see coverage in the The Telegraph and in Community Care
  • Re JL and AO (Babies Relinquished for Adoption) [2016] EWHC 440 (Fam) – Guidance on consensual adoptions and parents from abroad; see coverage in Family Law Week
  • Ayinde and Thinjom (Carers – Reg.15A – Zambrano) [2015] UKUT 560 (IAC) – test case concerning the rights of Zambrano carers to a derivative residence card under Regulation 15A (4A) of the EEA Regulations 2006.
  • North Somerset Council v LW [2014] EWHC 1670 (Fam) – Court of Protection proceedings concerning whether or not a local authority were permitted not to disclose to a mother who lacked capacity the care plan for her unborn child, namely removal at birth; capacity to consent to a caesarean section; see coverage in Family Law Week
  • M v Somerset County Council [2014] EWCA Civ 942; see coverage in Family Law Week 
  • Walsh v Shanahan [2013] EWCA Civ 675
  • Nejjary v Aramark Ltd (Unfair Dismissal) [2012] UKEAT 0054_12_3105 (31 May 2012)


Before coming to the Bar, Gráinne was a stagiaire in the Department of Justice (Fundamental Rights and Citizenship) of the European Commission in Brussels and worked in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court in the Hague where she worked on the case of Prosecutor v Jean Pierre Bemba and in particular on the decision on interim release.

Gráinne has previously worked with Prayas Institute of Juvenile Justice in Delhi on issues of child trafficking and labour, in the US House of Congress in Washington DC and as a legislative assistant (criminal and prison law) in the House of Lords. In 2007 and 2009, she was appointed as a research assistant at the LSE where she was the primary researcher for two editions of the seminal textbook “Sealy and Worthington: Cases and Materials in Company Law” (2007 and 2009) OUP.


  • ”Interim Trial Observations Report: Hearing of ‘Taraf’ Journalists”, Bar Human Rights Committee Report, October 2016, available here;
  • “Camps at Calais and Grand Synthe (France): Policing and Access to Justice”, Fact-Finding Report on behalf of the Bar Human Rights Committee,  1 August 2016 (with Stephen Cragg QC), available here;
  • “British plans to repeal Human Rights Act misguided and unnecessary”, Irish Times, 10 November 2015, available here;
  • Judicial Review of Criminal Proceedings, Hart, Contributing author (2014);
  • “The Impeachment of a Chief Justice” Counsel, May 2013 (with Theodora Christou);
  • “The Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Dublin Convention: An Analysis of N.S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department (C-411/10) European Public Law 18 (4) – Nov 2012
  • “Indeterminate sentences for public protection: James, Wells and Lee v UK” and “Permission to work: Asylum Seekers and Article 8 ECHR” Human Rights in Ireland (Guest Contributor)
  • “Statutory Rules, Common Law Rules and Public Policy in the Global Financial Crisis” Penn State International Law Review, [2011] 29 3 613 (with Professor Sara Worthington)
  • “Prosecutorial compassion” Criminal Law & Justice Vol. 175 No. 12, 2011 (with Abigail Bright)
  • “Congo Brazzaville: Report on Fundamental Freedoms” Bar Human Rights Committee Report, November 2011 (with Peter Dean)

Seminars and Conferences


  • Pegasus Scholarship, Middle Temple, 2013
  • Middle Temple Queen Mother BVC Scholarship, 2009-2010
  • Middle Temple Certificate of Honour, 2010
  • LSE 11KBW Award for Human Rights Law, 2007;
  • Exhibitioner, Trinity College Dublin.