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Jo Cecil

  • Call: 2005
Legal 500 UK Awards 2015: Winner 
"The go-to junior for criminal cases with human rights issues, particularly ones involving vulnerable defendants."
Legal 500 2017

Joanne combines a mixed serious crime and public law practice with criminal justice related judicial review and civil litigation in the civil liberties sphere.

She has a strong appellate practice both domestically and internationally, appearing at all levels including the Supreme Court. Most recently she was instructed by Just For Kids Law in the joint enterprise case of Jogee before the Supreme Court.

Joanne has developed an expertise in strategic litigation and acting for intervenors. She has been instructed in every significant test case at the appellate levels concerning juvenile justice in recent years, resulting in significant changes to the law.

She is currently instructed by the FCO and separately the EU and Council of Europe in two seminal US Supreme Court criminal cases. Previously instructed by the EU, Council of Europe in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (Juvenile death penalty ruled unconstitutional)

Her expertise in criminal justice can be seen in her appointment as an Independent Commissioner on the Legal Aid Review Commission (the Bach Commission). She is also as an elected member of the Criminal Bar Association, Bar Human Rights Commission and has been appointed to the FCO Consular Panel for expert assistance in criminal cases in overseas jurisdictions.

Prior to being called to the Bar of England and Wales, she worked for several years in Washington, DC. and has extensive experience in international human rights cases. She continues to consult on human rights issues to governments, international organisations (e.g. EU, UNICEF, UN) and NGOs.

What others say

Jo Cecil is ranked in the Legal 500 2017 for Crime.

“The go-to junior for criminal cases with human rights issues, particularly ones involving vulnerable defendants.”
Legal 500 UK (2017)

She has acute skills in solving complex legal problems.”
Legal 500 UK (2016)

Appellate Cases

R v Jogee [2016] UKSC 8  

Historic joint judgment of Supreme Court and Privy Council. Joint Enterprise

R (OP) v Secretary of State for Justice [2014] EWHC 1944 (Admin), [2014] WLR (D) 348

Test case concerning the lack of provision of registered intermediaries for vulnerable and child defendants in criminal trials by the MoJ as compared to their provision for Crown witnesses and complainants. Successful. Court held unlawful.

R (HC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 982 (Admin), [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1234; [2013] Crim. L.R. 918; [2013] A.C.D. 94

High profile landmark test case concerning the anomalous position of 17 year olds being treated as adults within the criminal justice system (excluded from protections of PACE when detained in police custody). Successful. PACE Code C held unlawful and in breach of Article 8 interpreted in the light of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Resulted in change of the law. Considered most significant appellate criminal law and child rights case of 2013.

Sanchez-Llamas v Oregon 126 S.Ct. 2669 (2006)

U.S. Supreme Court, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and Article 36 rights in criminal proceedings. Brief of Amici Curiae, The European Union and Members of the International Community.

Medellin v Dretke 544 U.S. 660 (2005)

Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and Article 36 rights in criminal proceedings. Brief of Amici Curiae, The European Union and Members of the International Community.

Roper v Simmons 543 US 551 (2005)

Juvenile death penalty ruled unconstitutional. Brief of Amici Curiae, The European Union and Members of the International Community.

Hamdan v Rumsfeld 126 S.Ct. 2749 (2006)

US Supreme Court, legality of military commissions re. Guantanamo and enemy combatants.

Serious Crime

R v Slade, Baxter and Pearman, Sheffield Crown Court

The defendants were convicted of a high-profile conspiracy to murder in 2009. They appealed against their conviction in 2014. The conviction was quashed but the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial. In the retrial the defence made submissions as to unfair disclosure and as to abuse of process. Before the disclosure and abuse arguments had all concluded, three weeks into the trial, the Crown dropped the case by offering no further evidence and inviting the jury to acquit. This was a direct result of the defence arguments which argued that the Crown could not proceed. This was a major reversal for the Crown. They had prosecuted the defendants at trial and on appeal for eight years before conceding that it was wrong to have done so.

The defendants were described as highly sophisticated premier league criminals and included ‘Yorkshire’s crime boss’.

R v Lawrence, Central Criminal Court

High profile multi-handed conspiracy to rob.   Defendants wore burkhas to conduct the robberies. Complex cell site and tracker evidence.

R v S, Central Criminal Court

Eight handed conspiracy to rob cash in transit (CIT). Case concerns an undercover flying squad operation targeting an organised criminal gang conducting CIT robberies in London and Bournemouth and targeted smash and grab robberies of Knightsbridge stores, Louis Vuitton etc. Substantial observation, surveillance, tracker and telephone (cell site) evidence.

R v Gomez, Central Criminal Court and Maidstone

Sole counsel for D1 in two large scale multi-handed multi-million pound conspiracies to import cocaine into the UK from Colombia and the Dominican Republic (alleged in excess of 100kg). One heard at the Central Criminal Court and the other at Maidstone Crown Court (SOCA prosecution). Involved cell site, observations, expert forensic evidence etc. D1 was at the top of the chain. Subsequently case heard on appeal at Court of Appeal.

R v A

Sole counsel in multi-handed child sex case. Represented 13-year-old boy with learning difficulties accused of sexually assaulting two young brothers (5 and 6 years old) and inciting oral rape along with two other boys. Case dismissed following legal argument.

R v Khan, Nottingham Crown Court

Grooming and multiple rape of white vulnerable girls in care.

R v Husain, Inner London Crown Court

Leading Junior. S.18 Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) acid attacks and stabbings in revenge attacks. In context of rape allegations (male). Defendant suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and currently detained under mental health provisions. Initially unfit to plead, subsequent medication resulted in finding of fitness to plead. Both defendant and Crown witnesses gave evidence with assistance of intermediaries.