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Stephen Simblet

  • Call: 1991
Stephen Simblet
"He gives everything for claimants." "His advocacy is superb, and I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of his cross-examination."  "One of the first names that comes to mind for difficult and hard-fought police trials."
Chambers UK Bar Guide

“He is extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points.”
Chambers UK 2018 (Police Law: Mainly Claimant)

He can quote cases ‘off the cuff’ to support his arguments.”
Legal 500 2017

“He is extremely bright and handles complex legal points with ease.” “He’s great with clients and good at putting people at ease.”
Chambers UK 2017 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

“He specialises in police cases involving discrimination and has good judgement.” “He brings a very intellectual but accessible approach and is easy to work with.” “He cares about clients, is really collaborative and courts and judges like him.”
Chambers UK 2017 (Police Law: Mainly Claimant)

“A tenacious and confident advocate.”
Legal 500 2016 (Administrative and Public Law)

“Extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points.” “Helpful and great with clients.”
Chambers UK 2016 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

“Stephen is an absolutely fantastic junior.” “He gives everything for claimants.” “He is very nice and did an excellent job.”
Chambers UK 2016 (Police Law: Mainly Claimant)

“A specialist in police claims and mental health law.”
Legal 500 2015

“He is really on the ball with the law, really up to date, and knows answers off the top of his head.” “His advocacy is superb, and I wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of his cross-examination.” “He’s fantastic – very committed, very bright, helpful and approachable.” “He is a fine tactician and has really good instincts.” “He is a superb trial advocate, who has inside-out knowledge of the process. He is one of the first names that comes to mind for difficult and hard-fought police trials.” “He is very bright and very good at building relationships with clients.”
Chambers UK 2015

Stephen is “extremely knowledgeable” and has “in-depth knowledge of a very wide variety of civil liberties matters.”
Legal 500 2014

“He is not afraid of a hard fight and will take interesting points. His breadth of knowledge means that he can see a way into things that other barristers might miss.” “He is considered and understated but very effective.” “His attention to detail is great and he is brilliant on technical cases.” “He is extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points.”
Chambers UK 2014

“First class when it comes to the more technical side of arguments,’ ‘Extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points,’ he has been involved in some ‘real key judicial reviews.’ He brings many successful claims against the police for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and assault, resulting in substantial damages for his clients.’He conducts several jury trial in police cases each year. ‘extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points.’ His public law practice centres around challenges to official decision-making in police, coronial law, mental health and detention-related matters.
Chambers UK 2013

Practice

Stephen’s practice focuses on individual rights in four discrete areas. These are civil claims against the police and public authorities; inquests; mental health; public law and judicial review. He spent the last two and a half years as one of the lead advocates representing the largest group of bereaved families in the Hillsborough Inquests, during which his questioning of police officers about the inadequate emergency police response to the unfolding disaster was regularly reported in national media, as was his questioning of Kenny Dalglish. He, along with the other family legal teams from the inquests, is a recipient of Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2016.

Stephen specialises in claims for false imprisonment, assault, malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office against the police, prison authorities and psychiatric hospitals. Stephen is highly experienced in trials in this area, and conducts many High Court and County Court trials in these types of claim every year, as well as advising in many others that settle. He is probably one of the most experienced lawyers in the country in this sort of litigation and is ranked highly in the Chambers UK Bar Guide in this area. He conducts several trials in the High Court and County Court each year. Stephen was involved in some of the first damages claims under the Human Rights Act 1998. He was the lead advocate in a case before the European Court of Human Rights concerning forcible entry by the police, in a decision important enough to be reported in the European Human Rights Reports.

Stephen is also specialist in inquests into deaths in police and prison custody and into deaths in hospital, having represented families at inquests for many years. He represents families in several inquests each year and has represented in many controversial inquests, including several deaths involving police restraint. He also conducts complex hearings before what used to be called the Mental Health Review Tribunal, including restricted patients, those with so-called “dangerous severe personality disorder” in Rampton, Broadmoor and other special hospitals, along with associated judicial review and habeas corpus. He is also an expert in damages claims arising out of psychiatric detention.

His judicial review work is primarily within the substantive areas of mental health, prisoners’ rights, coroners’ inquests, police claims and proceedings involving ASBOs. He also has wide experience in judicial review arising out of criminal proceedings, education law and community care problems, as well as cases involving the rights of gypsies and travellers. Stephen has pursued a number of successful applications for habeas corpus.

His interest and expertise in mental health law has also led him into difficult Court of Protection cases. Stephen also represented protestors in several cases involving court injunctions taken out by commercial organisations against protestors. He has been involved in several High Court cases involving such injunctions, including cases where the injunction proceedings were dropped, or injunctions refused as a result of the defendant’s opposition and is at the centre of some of the cases involving opposition to fracking.

Stephen is also instructed on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse in two phases of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and has appeared in the Nottinghamshire phase and the Accountability and Reparations phase.

Stephen has sat as an Assistant Coroner.

Background

Stephen qualified for the Bar after completing a postgraduate degree in European Community and employment law in Italy, where he lived for over a year. He has reasonably fluent conversational Italian.

Representative Reported Cases

Police cases in the higher courts

Keegan v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2003] 1 WLR 2187 (appeal raising ambit of tort of malicious procurement of search warrant in circumstances where no human rights claim could be brought. Resulted in successful Strasbourg claim)

R (application of Wilkinson) v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2004] 1 Pol LR 189 (quashing a police force’s refusal to conduct an investigation into a complaint)

R (application of Clare) v Independent Police Complaints Commission [2005] 1 Pol LR 185 (upholding the complainant’s right to have an investigation by establishing that IPCC is permitted to withdraw a dispensation from requirement to investigate complaint)

Chief Constable of Merseyside v Ali Daar [2005] EWCA 1774, [2005] 1 Pol LR 376 (preventing police striking out claim against police on basis that claimant had received an ASBO)

Paul v Chief Constable of Humberside Police [2004] EWCA Civ 308, [2004] 1 Pol LR 179 (successful appeal establishing that claims for damages against the police will often depend on inferences being drawn against police evidence)

Scott v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police [2006] 1 Pol LR 86 (failing to obtain a re-trial on basis of non-disclosure of police non-compliance with PCA complaints investigation)

Keegan v United Kingdom [2007] 44 EHRR 33 (obtaining compensation from European Court of Human Rights for breach of ECHR Article 8 and Article 13 following police search)

Shields v Chief of Merseyside [2010] EWCA (Civ) 1281 (failing to invalidate ruling that arrest of a child had been lawful when the detaining officer had not been aware of the original reason for arrest)

Minio-Paluello v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 3411 (QB)(not an appeal, but a successful claim for damages heard in the High Court for assault upon a demonstrator whose arm was broken by a police office)

Daniels and Gillard v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2015] EWCA Civ 680 (successfully fending off an appeal to the Court of Appeal in an important case about immunity from suit and claims for misfeasance in public office. A 3 month trial in the High Court took place later that year.)

Vian & ors v Commissioner of Police [2017] EWHC 273 (QB) (High Court claim for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office damages arising out of the prosecution of people alleged to be involved in the killing of Daniel Morgan in 1987. There have been a number of criminal trials and allegations of police corruption.)

Mental health appellate and judicial review cases

Re Briscoe [1998] COD 402 (successful habeas corpus application in relation to improperly detained psychiatric patient)

R (on application of C) v Mental Health Review Tribunal [2002] 1 WLR 176 (overturning a practice by which patients had to wait excessive times for a Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing)

R (application of T) v Mental Health Review Tribunal [2002] 1 MHLR 275 (upholding the right of a victim of an offence to receive some information about the discharge plans of a patient. This case later became the basis for a statutory right to receive such information)

R (application of CS) v Mental Health Review Tribunal [2004] 1 MHLR 355 (concerning the powers of the Mental Health Review Tribunal in relation to discharge of patients on long-term leave of absence)

R (application SSG) v Liverpool City Council[2002] 5 Community Care LR 639 (successfully brought proceedings enabling same sex cohabitants to be treated the same as heterosexual couples for the purposes of being recognized as nearest relative under the Mental Health Act)

R (X) v Mental Health Review Tribunal [2003] 1 MHLR 299 (failing to establish unlawful unfairness in Mental Health Review Tribunal proceedings where the Tribunal called further evidence after closing submissions)

R (application of MM) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2007] 1 MHLR 304 (failure in Court of Appeal case concerning Home Secretary’s powers to recall conditionally-discharged patients to hospital. Soon afterwards, the patient was absolutely discharged and removed from the Home Secretary’s control)

BB v Cygnet Health Care [2008] EWHC 1259 (Admin) (successful habeas corpus application where social worker not completed necessary consultation before compulsory admission of patient to hospital)

GD v Managers of Edgware Hospital [2008] 1 MHLR 282 (successful habeas corpus application where social worker not completed necessary consultation before compulsory admission of patient to hospital)

M v Managers of Queen Mary’s Hospital [2008] 1 MHLR 303 (failing to establish that a patient had not been lawfully examined – subsequently (unsuccessfully) appealed with Roger Pezzani as advocate)

R (application IT) v Secretary of State for Justice [2008] EWHC 1717 (Admin) [2008] 1 MHLR 290 (successful challenge to Secretary of State’s powers to recall a conditionally discharged patient, with subsequent damages hearing – compensation amount settled)

BB (Upper Tribunal, Administrative Appeals)[2009] UKUT 157 (AAC) (successful appeal from Mental Health Review Tribunal based on inadequacy of reasons for refusing discharge, overturning the inadequate tribunal decision)

LC v DHIC and Secretary of State for Justice [2010] UKUT 319 (AAC), [2010] 1 MHLR 337 (successful appeal against decision of Tribunal to reverse decision to discharge patient when there had been no change in his condition)

RM v St Andrew’s Healthcare [2010] UKUT 119, (Upper Tribunal, Administrative Appeals) [2010] 1 MHLR 176 (obtaining disclosure to a detained patient of the fact that he was being covertly medicated while in hospital, as part of the obligations of procedural fairness in Mental Health Review Tribunal hearings. This case featured in the preface to Jones as the most significant recent mental health case of that year)

RN v CC (2011, Upper Tribunal) (Successful appeal against Tribunal’s decision where it announced at the start that it would not make a CTO recommendation, in breach of right to a fair hearing)

re MS  [2013] UKUT 92 (AAC),Upper Tribunal (successful appeal against a decision by tribunal that had set out wrong statutory test in application for patient’s discharge from section 3 admission)

Significant cases in the Court of Protection

PB v RB and Another [2013] EWCOP B41 (appellate point about meaning of “prohibit” in context of Court of Protection). 

Re M [2018] EWCOP 4 (Successful High Court appeal where a circuit judge had unfairly determined issues relating to residence for a person without capacity)

AB v HT & Others [2018] EWCOP 2 (High Court case in which obtained recognition of the relationship of  an Islamic spouse in complex proceedings about the best interests of a woman without capacity)

Judicial review involving inquests

R v HM Coroner for Swansea ex parte Chief Constable of South Wales [2000] 164 JP 191 (judicial review where an inquest jury’s verdict of neglect following death in custody was challenged. The new inquest returned a verdict incorporating neglect)

R v HM Coroner for Coventry ex parte Chief Constable of Staffordshire [2000] 164 JP 665 (successfully upholding an inquest jury’s verdict of neglect following death in custody)

R (Dawson) v HM Coroner for Kingston-u-Hull[2001] 1 WLR 132 (appearing for deceased’s family successfully upholding unlawful killing verdict)

R (on application of Scott) v HM Coroner for Inner West London [2001] 165 JP 417, (2001) 61 BMLR 222 (obtaining a new inquest where a psychiatric patient detained in prison had been allowed to hang himself and the issue of “neglect” had not been considered. The new inquest ordered returned a verdict incorporating “neglect”)

R (on application of Cash) v HM Coroner for Northamptonshire [2007] 4 All ER 903 (successful application for judicial review of coroner’s failure to leave verdict of unlawful killing and failure to leave narrative verdict, resulting in a fresh inquest being ordered)

R (Humberstone) v Legal Services Commission[2010] EWCA Civ 1479, [2010] 1 Inquest LR 221 (Successful judicial review of the Legal Services Commission’s refusal to fund the mother of the deceased at an inquest, succeeding both at first instance and on appeal. This case also deals with systems duties under Article 2 ECHR).

R (Mack) v HM Coroner for Birmingham [2011] EWCA Civ 712 (Succeeding before Court of Appeal in obtaining an order for a fresh inquest where a coroner had not called sufficient witnesses properly to inquire into a death in hospital from clostridium difficile)

Other Judicial review, including in criminal proceedings and ASBOs

R v Crown Court at Maidstone ex parte Schulz[1993] COD 182 (while still a pupil, successfully obtaining judicial review of custody time limits extension)

R v Highgate Justices ex parte Riley [1996] COD 12 (quashing a summary trial due to a magistrate’s intervention displaying bias)

R (application of P) v Barking Youth Court[2002] 2 Cr. App. R 19 (overturning a finding that a young defendant was fit to plead and stand trial)

R (application D) v Camberwell Green Youth Court [2005] 1 WLR 393 (House of Lords case involving challenge to the special measures directions and use of video evidence in trials of young defendants)

R (application D) v Sheffield Youth Court[2003] 167 JP 159 (successfully challenging committal decisions by youth courts of committal of children for crown court trial)

R (application of C) v Sunderland Youth Court[2004] 1 Cr App R (S) 76 (successfully quashing ASBO made against a child)

R (application of Mills) v Birmingham Magistrates’ Court [2005] EWHC Admin 2732 (successfully quashing an ASBO made following a shoplifting conviction and in which also costs ordered against the CPS)

Gibson, Kelly and Bailey v Secretary of State for Justice [2008] 3 WLR 1044 (failing to procure release of prisoner affected by the drafting errors in the legislation relating to early release from prison)

R (V) v Redbridge Magistrates’ Court & DPP (2009) (quashing the conviction of a mentally vulnerable man who had been convicted and imprisoned despite being unfit to plead)

R (Hussein and Rahman ) v Secretary of State  [2018] EWHC 213 (Admin) (assisting in successful judicial review of conditions of detention in Immigration Detention Centres).

Injunctions against protesters

EDO MBM Technology and others v Axworthy and others [2005] EWHC 837 (QB) (establishing that it is necessary for someone seeking injunction against unincorporated association to identify those whom it proceeds against)

Heathrow Airport and others v Garman and others[2007] EWHC 1957 (QB) (preventing wide-ranging injunction that would have allowed arrest of anyone opposed to airport expansion)

University of Oxford v Broughton [2008] EWHC 75 (successfully resisting use of harassment injunction to prevent peaceful protest at university ceremonies)

INEOS Upstream v Persons Unknown [2017] EWHC 2945 (Ch) ( arguing against an injunction being granted against protestors against fracking: expected in the Court of Appeal later)

UKCOG v Persons Unknown  (proceedings in the High Court against fracking protestors)

Other significant cases

Malik v Selfridges [1998] ICR 268 (appeal where employer had refused to comply with an order for reinstatement and tribunal ordered additional compensation)

Farah v Home Office [Times LR 26/1/2000] (successfully appealed the striking out of a claim against Home Office relating to Somali family being detained and stranded abroad due to incorrect information about their immigration status being given by Home Office to airline)

M (a child) v Ministry of Justice [2009] EWCA (Civ) 419 (getting stuck with one of the first cases on the consequences of bringing a claim for breach of Convention rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 and failing to persuade the court that section 7 (5) ought to be interpreted flexibly in favour of claimants)

Publications

In addition to conducting training in mental health law, police actions and inquests, Stephen is a frequent contributor to Legal Action, Solicitors’ Journal and other periodicals. Past articles include principles for obtaining compensation for police negligence, the role of the nearest relative under the Mental Health Act 1983, and developments on the case-law relating to neglect verdicts at coroners’ inquests. He also had an article on police anonymity at inquests published in the Mail on Sunday. He is an editor of the Community Care Law Reports., specialising in mental health cases. Stephen has also made programmes for Legal Network Television and has appeared as a legal expert on inquests on Sunrise TV.

Honours

  • Squire Law Scholarship (University of Cambridge)
  • Major and Duke of Edinburgh Scholarships (Inner Temple)

Interests

Stephen is interested in alternative energy projects, such as solar and wind power applications. His belief in hope over experience results in his active support of Nottingham Forest FC. He also plays the violin (badly) in an amateur classical orchestra and  plays mandolin in the London Gypsy Orchestra, which plays Balkan gypsy music. Stephen has overcome his prejudice that skiing is for posh people and is now a regular skier.

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