Joanne Cecil KC

Year of Call: 2005

"Joanne is a superb, hardworking, skillful barrister. She has secured bail for clients against the odds. She successfully appealed a conviction in circumstances where the evidence was overwhelming."

Legal 500, 2022 (Crime)

"Joanne has exceptional client care skills and huge ability. She is widely – and justifiably – respected."

Legal 500, 2021 (Crime)

"A star performer. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the criminal law relating to children."

Legal 500, 2020

"Has the ability to weigh legal problems and create cogent solutions for her clients."

Legal 500, 2019

"Thorough and diligent with an impressive grasp of the law."

Legal 500, 2019

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Joanne Cecil KC 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.

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.

Joanne was the winner of the Legal Aid Barrister of the Year category of the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards (LALYs) 2019.

Criminal Appeals

Overview

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. Most recently she was instructed by Just For Kids Law in the joint enterprise case of Jogee before the Supreme Court.

Notable Cases

Past notable cases can be viewed below. Click here to see a list of recent notable 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 regarding Guantanamo and enemy combatants.

Contact Joanne

Criminal Defence

Overview

Joanne's practice covers serious crime. She is currently instructed by the FCO and separately the EU and Council of Europe in two seminal US Supreme Court criminal cases. Joanne was 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). Joanne 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.

Notable Cases

Past notable cases can be viewed below. Click here to see a list of recent notable cases.

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, such as Louis Vuitton. 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.

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Youth Justice & Child Rights

Jo has a wealth of experience in representing children. She is renowned for having been instructed in many test cases relating to children in the criminal justice system which have resulted in significant changes in the law. Most recently, Jo acted in a Just for Kids Law’s case R v TI, a leading High Court case on intermediaries for children. Prior to working as a barrister in the UK, Jo was instrumental in the fight against the use of the death penalty for under-18s in the US which culminated in the case of Roper v Simmons which abolished the death penalty for those who were children at the time they committed an offence.

Jo is a Board Member of Just for Kids Law, the Standing Committee for Youth Justice and formerly of ROLE UK and was appointed as an independent commissioner on the ‘Bach’ Access to Justice Commission.  She is a lead facilitator for the Advocacy and the Vulnerable, sits on the Ministry of Justice’s Working Group on Youth Advocacy and is currently devising a youth advocacy course with the ICCA for national roll out.  

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Administrative and Public Law

Overview

Joanne's practice covers public law. 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.

Notable Cases

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.

Contact Joanne

International Crime and Conflict Law

Joanne's practice covers serious crime. She is currently instructed by the FCO and separately the EU and Council of Europe in two seminal US Supreme Court criminal cases. Joanne was 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). Joanne 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.

Contact Joanne

Notable Cases & News

Garden Court barristers appointed as panel counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

We are delighted to announce that 12 members of Garden Court Chambers have been appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's (EHRC) preferred panel of counsel.

12 June 2024

Garden Court Chambers revises policy on Stratford Magistrates' Court

23 May 2024

Garden Court Chambers statement on security searches at Stratford Magistrates' Court

8 May 2024

Joanne Cecil and Greg Ó Ceallaigh to be appointed King’s Counsel

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that Joanne Cecil and Greg Ó Ceallaigh will be appointed King’s Counsel in 2024.

19 January 2024

Michael Ivers KC elected chair of Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

We are delighted to announce that Michael Ivers KC has been elected as chair of Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales (BHRC) Executive Committee from 1 January 2024.

22 December 2023

UK Covid-19 Inquiry Module 4 preliminary hearings open

Today marks the start of public preliminary hearings for the UK Covid-19 Inquiry Module 4: Vaccines and therapeutics.

13 September 2023

UK Covid-19 Inquiry first substantive hearing underway - Garden Court counsel instructed

Numerous Garden Court Chambers counsel, of the Garden Court Inquests & Inquiries Team, are instructed in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.

13 June 2023

Garden Court Chambers and Garden Court North remember Ian Macdonald QC

Garden Court Chambers and Garden Court North were honoured to host a memorial event for Ian Macdonald QC 1939-2019 at Middle Temple Hall on Tuesday 7 February 2023.

17 February 2023

Garden Court secures top tier rankings in the Legal 500 2023

Garden Court Chambers is proud to be recognised as a Top Tier set again in the Legal 500.

30 September 2022

Members of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team support escalating proposed CBA action to include days of action

17 June 2022

Stephanie Harrison QC, Chair and Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers, comments on the Nationality and Borders Bill receiving Royal Assent

29 April 2022

Garden Court Crime Team statement on no returns action

30 March 2022

Garden Court secures number one rankings in Chambers UK Bar Guide 2022

21 October 2021

Garden Court Chambers Crime Team shortlisted for Crime Set of the Year by Chambers Bar Awards 2021

We are delighted to announce that the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team has been shortlisted by the Chambers Bar Awards 2021 for Crime Set of the Year.

27 August 2021

Kate Aubrey-Johnson and Joanne Cecil appointed by the Lord Chancellor to the Expert and Advisory Panel for the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid

29 January 2021

Government announces children will be exempt from the recent extension to custody time limits

Joanne Cecil of the Garden Court Chambers Youth Justice & Child Rights Team has worked tirelessly to achieve this fantastic result.

15 January 2021

Government announces children will be exempt from the recent extension to custody time limits

Joanne Cecil of the Garden Court Chambers Youth Justice & Child Rights Team has worked tirelessly to achieve this fantastic result.

15 January 2021

Child Protocol in Criminal Cases

Drafted by Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Joanne Cecil and Anya Lewis of the Garden Court Criminal Defence Team.

5 May 2020

Garden Court Chambers wins Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion Award at Chambers Bar Awards 2019

We pay special tribute to Mia Hakl-Law, Director of Operations and HR at Garden Court for spearheading and championing our work on diversity and inclusion together with many others within our chambers.

1 November 2019

Garden Court Chambers shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion Award at Chambers Bar Awards 2019

We are proud to announce that Garden Court Chambers has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion Award at the Chambers Bar Awards 2019.

9 September 2019

Joanne Cecil wins Legal Aid Barrister of the Year and Una Morris wins Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year at 2019 LALY Awards

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that two of our barristers won awards at the seventeenth annual Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards.

11 July 2019

Politicians to bring a claim against Metropolitan Police over June 2016 Brexit Referendum campaign expenses

Joanne Cecil of Garden Court Chambers is instructed by Saimo Chahal QC of Bindmans LLP.

19 June 2019

Joanne Cecil and Una Morris shortlisted for Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2019

Garden Court is delighted to announce that Joanne Cecil and Una Morris of Garden Court Chambers have both been shortlisted for the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2019 (LALYs).

23 May 2019

15 members of Garden Court Chambers appointed to Equality and Human Rights Commission Panel of Counsel

Stephanie Harrison QC, Amanda Weston QC, Bethan Harris, Liz Davies, Grace Brown, Timothy Baldwin, Mark Symes, Joanne Cecil, Stephen Marsh, Anthony Vaughan, Shu Shin Luh, Connor Johnston, Gráinne Mellon, Tessa Buchanan and Miranda Butler.

16 May 2019

Jo Cecil wins Youth Justice Legal Centre Rising Star Award

Jo Cecil of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team has won the Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC) Rising Star Award.

11 May 2018

Garden Court Long Term Mentoring Scheme wins Chambers Diversity Initiative of the Year at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017

Mia Hakl-Law, Head of Operations & HR, pioneered the mentoring scheme in conjunction with Garden Court's Leslie Thomas QC and Connor Johnston.

30 November 2017

Judy Khan QC, Maya Sikand, Joanne Cecil and Shu Shin Luh shortlisted for Legal 500 Bar Awards 2018

Garden Court is delighted to announce that four of our barristers have been shortlisted for the Legal 500 Bar Awards 2018.

27 November 2017

James Scobie QC and Joanne Cecil secure an acquittal at the Old Bailey in multi-handed gang murder of music producer

James Scobie QC and Joanne Cecil are members of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team.

24 November 2017

Garden Court Chambers sponsor London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association's Annual Autumn Conference 2017

The LCCSA Annual Autumn Conference took place in Seville from 7-8 October.

12 October 2017

Bach Commission report calls for Rights to Justice Act and far wider eligibility for legal aid

Garden Court Chambers contributed evidence to the Bach Commission.

22 September 2017

Our justice system is in crisis – Bach Commission report highlights effects of legal aid cuts

Jo Cecil of Garden Court’s Crime and Public Law Teams is an Independent Commissioner on the Bach Commission.

25 November 2016

Garden Court barristers join #IBelong statelessness debate

Edward Grieves, Adrian Berry and Jo Cecil were invited to speak at a conference examining the significant international human rights issues of arbitrary revocation of citizenship and statelessness.

2 November 2016

Garden Court’s Jo Cecil to speak at Inns of Court College of Advocacy Annual Conference

Jo is speaking on the use of intermediaries for defendants and the current imbalance defendants face within the criminal justice system.

28 October 2016

Garden Court and Stephanie Harrison QC shortlisted for Human Rights and Public Law awards

Garden Court has been shortlisted at the Chambers Bar Awards, whilst Stephanie and our Public Law Team are shortlisted at the Legal 500 Awards.

21 October 2016

Asil Nadir transferred to serve remainder of his sentence in Turkey

Joanne Cecil advised in the judicial review proceedings challenging Chris Grayling's refusal to transfer Nadir to Turkey.

22 April 2016

Supreme Court and Privy Council hand down landmark decision on law of joint enterprise

Jo Cecil, for Just for Kids Law, and James Mehigan, for Ruddock, are both of Garden Court's Crime Team.

18 February 2016

Supreme Court and Privy Council hear landmark joint enterprise appeals

Joanne Cecil and James Mehigan are both members of Garden Court Chambers’ Crime Team.

28 October 2015

Garden Court wins Legal 500 crime set of the year award

The winners in these awards are chosen by the Legal 500 as a result of thousands of interviews with firms, sets and counsel.

8 October 2015

Voting Yes in the Criminal Bar Association Ballot

Sam Parham, Jo Cecil and Catherine Oborne of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team urge the undecided to vote yes in the Criminal Bar Association ballot.

14 July 2015

Appeal Court rules that removal of a child's clothes in police custody is a strip search

The Court considered whether the safeguards of Annex A on strip searches in PACE Code C apply

19 February 2015

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women meets with Garden Court practitioners

Garden Court welcomes Rashida Manjoo to discuss practitioners’ experiences of dealing with victims of violence against women.

2 April 2014

All related news

Background

Prior to being called to the Bar of England and Wales, Jo 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.

Joanne is appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's preferred Panel of Counsel (Panel A).

Education

  • LLB (Hons), Cardiff University
  • BVC, Inns of Court School of Law

Professional Membership

  • Criminal Bar Association (CBA)
  • Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)
  • Human Rights Law Association (HRLA)
  • Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC)
  • American Society of International Law (ASIL)
  • Amicus
  • Young Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Female Fraud Forum

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