James Mehigan

Year of Call: 2008, 2013 (Ireland), 2014 (Northern Ireland)

"His work includes murder appeals."

Legal 500, 2019

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James Mehigan specialises in criminal defence and has broad experience of all aspects of criminal justice-related work. He has particular experience in cases involving human rights issues in the UK and abroad. He has been instructed in high-profile appeals and inquests.

Criminal Appeals

Overview

James specialises in criminal defence and has broad experience of all aspects of criminal justice-related work. He has particular experience in cases involving human rights issues. James has been instructed in high-profile appeals.

Notable Cases

Jogee & Ruddock, Supreme Court & Judicial Committee of the Privy Council [2016] UKSC 8, [2016] UKPC 7, [2016] 2 WLR 681.
Mr Ruddock was convicted of joint enterprise murder in Jamaica. In one of the most significant developments in criminal law in recent years and an historic joint sitting, the Supreme Court and Privy Council unanimously allowed the conjoined challenges of Jogee and Ruddock, correcting a 30-year-old 'error' in the interpretation of the law. Led by Julian Knowles QC. The case received significant national media attention, including in the Guardian.

Lane, Court of Appeal 2015
Appeal against conviction for 1995 contract killing. Led by Joel Bennathan QC. This case was reported in the Guardian.

Bronson, Criminal Cases Review Commission 2015
Appeal against conviction for false imprisonment and criminal damage. Led by Hugh Southey QC. This case was reported in the Guardian.

Taylor, European Court of Human Rights 2013
Application to ECHR relating to breach of Article 6 right to a fair trial.

Livingston, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council [2012] UKPC 36
Ms Livingstone was accused of killing her employer, a high-profile lawyer in Jamaica. The Board found cumulative deficiencies in the directions given to the jury. Led by John Perry QC. This case received significant media coverage, including in the Jamaica Observer.

Nero et al, Administrative Court [2012] EWHC 1238 (Admin); (2012) 176 J.P. 450
Appeal by way of case stated against conviction in Palestinian protest case.

Benalbaida, Court of Appeal [2010]
Appeal against sentence for violent disorder at protests outside the Israeli Embassy against the invasion of Gaza.

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Inquests and Inquiries

Overview

James has been instructed in high-profile inquests. As part of the team of lawyers representing families at the Hillsborough Inquests he received Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2016 and the Modern Law Awards 2016.

Notable Cases

Hillsborough Inquests [2014-2016]
James was part of a team instructed on the Hillsborough Inquests. He was led by Stephen Simblet and Sean Horstead.

Inquest into the death of Gladys Richards, Portsmouth Coroner's Court [2013]
Inquest into the death of an elderly lady in Gosport War Memorial Hospital. An Independent Panel later found that over 450 people may have had their lives shortened by over prescription of opioids. This was one of two inquests that concluded opioid prescription contributed to the death.

This case was reported by the BBC. The report of the Gosport Independent Panel was widely reported. BBC; Guardian.

Inquest into the death of Daniel Smith, Swindon & Wiltshire Coroner's Court [2013]
Death of a prisoner at Erlestoke Prison. This case was reported by the Gazette and Herald.

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International Crime and Conflict Law

Overview

James began international criminal work in 2008 when he was legal assistant to the defence team in Prosecutor v Sesay at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

He represents clients on appeal to the Privy Council from Caribbean jurisdictions, including representing the Jamaican appellant in the landmark case on joint enterprise Jogee & Ruddock.

He has represented NGOs before the international tribunals, including appearing at the historic first reparations hearing at the International Criminal Court on behalf of Child Soldiers International.

He is a former member of the Policy Council of Liberty and trustee of the UK branch of Front Line Defenders

Notable Cases

Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga, International Criminal Court [2016]
James Mehigan presented an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Child Soldiers International to the International Criminal Court. The London-based NGO had been asked to submit such a brief to the Trial Chamber. This was the first time that a reparations hearing had taken place at the Court and received significant media coverage.

Application for an Arrest Warrant for Ehud Barak [2009]
Application for a UK arrest warrant to be issued for Israeli Defence Minister alleged to have committed war crimes arising out of the invasion of Gaza known as 'Operation Cast Lead'. Led by Michel Massih QC. This case was reported by the Guardian.

Prosecutor v Sesay, Special Court for Sierra Leone [2008]
James was a legal assistant to the team defending Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Issa Sesay who was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Financial Crime and Confiscation

P, Manchester Crown Court [2013]
Led junior in two indictments investigated by four police forces in two jurisdictions. £2.5 million credit card fraud, 'the likes of which had never been seen before'. Led by Nick Wrack.

Sofronea, Wood Green Crown Court [2011]
Money laundering arising out of internet fraud.

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Criminal Defence

Sexual Offences

T, Snaresbrook Crown Court [2013]
Sexual assault.

M, Blackfriars Crown Court [2012]
Inciting a 13-year-old to sexual activity and possession of extreme pornographic images.

S, Guildford Crown Court [2010]
Led junior in case involving rape allegations dating back over 20 years. Case stayed As an abuse of process after extensive submissions relating to doli incapax and the presumption of impotence. Led by Katy Thorne.

Other serious crime

Rafiq et al, Birmingham County Court [2013]
One of the first applications for a new gang-related violence injunction, a so-called 'gangbo'.

Groake, Kingston Crown Court [2013]
Conspiracy to rob over £1 million of watches from Selfridges. This case was reported by the BBC.

AD, Southwark Crown Court 2013
Failure to declare terrorist convictions.

Mohamed, Isleworth Crown Court [2012]
Human Trafficking Unit prosecution for a 'passport swap' in Dubai.

Slusnys, Snaresbrook Crown Court [2012]
Theft of £500,000 yacht. This case was reported by the Daily Mail.

Rahman and another, Inner London Crown Court [2011]
Section 18 grievous bodily harm (GBH).

M, Isleworth Crown Court [2010]
Palestinian torture victim accused of entering UK without a passport.

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Prisoners’ Rights

Overview

James acts for prisoners in all aspects of prison law from adjudications and parole board hearings to judicial reviews and civil actions in prison cases.

Notable Cases

Mordecai, Administrative Court 2016
Judicial review of Parole Board decision not to recommend transfer to open conditions. The original order was quashed. Case received regional media coverage.

Bewley, Court of Appeal 2015
Judicial review of decision not to transfer a prisoner to open conditions because he had absconded in the past. Led by Hugh Southey QC.

Sujen Balachandran, Administrative Court 2013
Judicial review of decision not to allow prisoner compassionate release when he is the only bone marrow match for his terminally ill sister in Sri Lanka.

Reynolds, Administrative Court 2013
Judicial review of refusal to allow release on temporary licence.

Bronson, Parole Board, Wakefield Prison 2013
Represented Mr Bronson, often dubbed 'Britain's most dangerous prisoner' at his oral hearing.

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Background

James joined Garden Court Chambers in 2013, after practising at Tooks Chambers.

Prior to coming to the Bar, James worked as a researcher for three human rights organizations; Front Line Defenders - The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Dublin (where he remains a trustee and company director of the UK branch), the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva and the Ethical Investment Research Service in London. He has provided advice to numerous other NGOs. He is a former member of the Policy Council at Liberty and the legal advisory panel at the Child Rights International Network.

James' international practice also includes consultancy for a number of NGOs. Most notably he was invited by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights to be part of an international group of experts to provide an independent review of their operations.

In 2013 James received a Pegasus Scholarship to work at Onyango & Co in Kampala. The firm is one of the leading human rights and international criminal law firms in East Africa.

James is a former member of the Independent Monitoring Board at Pentonville Prison. He has a PhD on policing and has lectured in law at the University of East London. He is a lecturer in criminology at the Open University.

Publications

Defending Hope: Dispatches from the Front Lines in Palestine and Israel, Dublin: Veritas (2018). (with Eoin Murray)

'Criminal Law, Evidence and Procedure' in D Clarry and C Sargeant (eds) (2017), UK Supreme Court Yearbook, London: Appellate Press, pp.324-335. (with Henry Blaxland QC and Joanne Cecil)

'Universal Jurisdiction for International Crimes in Irish Law', Irish Jurist (2010). (with Alan DP Brady)

'Crime, Globalisation and Human Rights' in Criminal Justice: Local and Global, Cullompton: Willan (2010). [Approximately 40,000 copies of this book have been sold.] (with Reece Walters and Louise Westmarland)

'Problematizing Prison Privatization', in Handbook of the Prison, Cullompton: Willan (2007). (with Abigail Rowe)

'Bringing Cases Against War Criminals: Universal Jurisdiction in Ireland', Law Society Gazette (July, 2006).

Training and Seminars

  • Challenging Violations of Children's Rights through strategic litigation in Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine, Child Rights International Network, Belgrade, November 2016.
  • Challenging Police Brutality in Court: A Practical Approach, European Roma Rights Centre, Belgrade, October 2015
  • Parole Reform and the ECHR, Irish Penal Reform Trust Prison Law Seminar, Dublin, October 2012
  • Security and Protection in Human Rights Defenders' Cases, Avocats Sans Frontières and East Africa Law Society, Training for East African and Congolese Human Rights Lawyers, Kampala, June 2012
  • Bringing Cases Against War Criminals: Universal Jurisdiction in Ireland, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Universal Jurisdiction Conference, Malaga, March 2006

James has a PhD in policing and has lectured in law at the University of East London. He is a lecturer in criminology at the Open University.

Awards

As part of the team of lawyers representing families at the Hillsborough Inquests, James received Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2016 and the Modern Law Awards 2016.

In 2009 he was nominated for the Bar Pro Bono Award for his contribution to the case of Balaj et al. before the UNMIK Human Rights Advisory Panel for Kosovo.

Education

  • PhD in Criminology (Open University)
  • M Phil in Criminological Research (Cambridge University)
  • LLB (Hons) (Trinity College, Dublin)

Professional Membership

  • International Criminal Court Bar Association
  • Criminal Bar Association (CBA)
  • Haldane Society

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