Kirsten Heaven

Year of Call: 2007

"A hugely experienced inquest practitioner who strikes fear into the hearts of state bodies."

Legal 500, 2019

"She is very knowledgeable and able to cut through to the key points very quickly."

Chambers UK 2018 (Inquests and Public Inquiries)

"She combines robust advocacy with compassionate client skills."

Legal 500 2017 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

"An incredible jury advocate. She has a really good style which gets the jury on board." "Really creative in her approach and a thoughtful tactician."

Chambers UK 2017 (Inquests and Public Inquiries)

"A phenomenal lawyer with expertise in cases concerning deaths in state care."

Legal 500 2016 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

Contact

To get in touch:​ Or you can contact the relevant​ Practice Team Clerks directly and they will be happy to assist with your enquiry.

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Kirsten specialises in police actions, claims against public authorities and public and administrative law, with an emphasis on civil liberties. She also has a specific interest in deprivation of liberty matters and represents vulnerable individuals in a range of proceedings before the Court of Protection.

Inquests and Inquiries

Overview

Kirsten is passionate about fighting for truth and justice on behalf of bereaved families in inquest proceedings. Kirsten has extensive experience representing bereaved families in complex inquest proceedings and specialises in prison and police related deaths, deaths involving the emergency services, restraint deaths and police shootings, deaths of persons detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (including by restraint), deaths of children in the care of the state, deaths of foreign nationals both detained and non-detained, clinical negligence related hospital deaths and controversial military deaths.

Kirsten frequently acts in public law challenges arising in coronial proceedings and in post-inquest civil actions.

Notable Cases

Shoreham Airshow Disaster
Kirsten Heaven is representing a number of bereaved families at the inquest. The inquest will look at failures by the Civil Aviation Authority, the local police force and pilot, and whether airshows in the UK are subject to sufficient levels of safety planning. The pre-inquest review proceedings have been widely reported in the media including the BBC here and here

 

Janet Müller inquest

Hillsborough inquest
Kirsten was instructed on the Hillsborough inquest by Birnberg Peirce and Partners, as part of a team representing family members of 74 of the 96 victims.

Welsh Ambulance service inquest

Imran Douglas: self-inflicted death of a young person/Harris Review issues

Anne - Marie Element Inquest: military/rape/bullying

Neglect contributed to death of 19-year-old Nicholas Wheller at HMYOI Aylesbury

HMP Leeds bullying related self-inflicted death could have been prevented

System failure in prison healthcare at HMP Moorland results in death of seriously ill prisoner

Anti-gun campaigner stabbed to death by mentally ill grandson: death could have been prevented

Suicide of Chinese national suspected of overstaying: narrative verdict critical of MET

Death of patient detained under Mental Health Act contributed to by neglect

Death in Oakington immigration detention centre

Police and ambulance related death: critical narrative

Clinical negligence related death of cancer patient: critical narrative
Suicide of old person in hospital setting: critical narrative

Prison suicide: neglect verdict

Death of person detained under Mental Health Act 1983: critical narrative and neglect verdict

Suicide recalled prisoner: critical narrative of Prison, the Probation Service and Mental Health Inreach Team

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Administrative and Public Law

Kirsten specialises in human rights and equality law-related judicial review challenges across her practice areas.

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Claims Against the Police and Public Authorities

Overview

Kirsten advises on causes of action against the police and police-related litigation, including, claims for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, trespass to property/person, misfeasance in public office, claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 and judicial review challenges to the IPCC. Kirsten advises extensively on post-inquest civil actions under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, Human Rights Act 1998 and Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.

Kirsten has a particular interest in protester-related civil actions, claims arising from unlawful immigration detention and injuries sustained during removal from the UK and post-inquest civil actions.

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Court of Protection

Kirsten provides advice and representation before mental health review tribunals and advises on appeals to the Upper Tribunal. She also provides advice and representation to vulnerable adults and their families and local authorities on matters before the Court of Protection. Kirsten has a specific interest in refusal of medical treatment cases and capacity issues around personal welfare, care and the deprivation of liberty but she also advises on financial applications and deputies.

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Mental Health Law

Kirsten provides advice and representation before mental health review tribunals and advises on appeals to the Upper Tribunal. She also provides advice and representation to vulnerable adults and their families and local authorities on matters before the Court of Protection. Kirsten has a specific interest in refusal of medical treatment cases and capacity issues around personal welfare, care and the deprivation of liberty but she also advises on financial applications and deputies.

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IMMIGRATION: ASYLUM AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Kirsten has experience of advising and representing applicants in the Tribunal and the Administrative Court in a wide range of immigration, asylum and deportation cases involving victims of trafficking, unaccompanied children, spouses and other family members and of advising on appeals to the Court of Appeal.

She also acts for clients in civil claims for unlawful detention in the Administrative Court and claims arising from assaults during the course of removal from the UK. She also specialises in inquests into deaths of foreign nationals both detained and non-detained. Kirsten focused on UK asylum law and practice in her LLM.

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Pro Bono Work

Kirsten undertakes pro bono work for the Bar Pro Bono unit, FRU and the College of Law and has helped set up a school for street children in Guatemala City.

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Background

Kirsten qualified as a solicitor at Slaughter and May in 2001 having trained in commercial, employment and EU law in London and Brussels.

She has an interest in domestic and international refugee protection and international human rights law. After leaving private practice, Kirsten spent a year running a refugee legal aid programme in Cairo, providing legal assistance to refugees seeking protection from UNHCR, working specifically with former child soldiers from Liberia and Sierra Leone, survivors of the Rwandan Genocide and victims of torture.

In 2003/4 Kirsten was seconded to the OSCE Mission to Serbia and Montenegro rule of law/human rights department for one year and worked on war and organised crime trials, minority rights, legal reform, the Serbian draft law on asylum and training Serbian lawyers on ECHR litigation.

Kirsten subsequently worked as a government legal adviser for three years in public and administrative law, international law (including public international law), war crimes, extradition law and EU law. This included frequently advising / briefing cabinet ministers, drafting and taking legislation through Parliament and advising on Court of Appeal and House of Lords litigation.

Prior to coming to the bar Kirsten completed an LLM in International Human Rights Law at Essex University with a particular research focus on the extra-territorialisation of asylum procedures in international, European and UK law. Kirsten was awarded the SNELS Human Rights Prize by Anne Owers for the highest distinction.

Publications

'Neglect and multiple failures contributed to death of a 19-year-old in HMYOI Aylesbury', Inquest Law, September 2013

'HMP Leeds bullying related self-inflicted death could have been prevented', Inquest Law, September 2013

'Heathrow death preventable?', Institute of Race Relations News, 28 April 2011

'Darfuri asylum seeker failed by the system', Institute of Race Relations, June 2010

'Inadequate inquiry into natural causes death in Oakington immigration detention centre', Inquest Law, October 2010

'Death of patient detained under mental health act from postural asphyxia, airway obstruction and acute alcohol intoxication contributed to by neglect', Inquest Law, October 2010

'Jury highlight failings by East Midlands ambulance service and Derbyshire constabulary that contributed to the death of a vulnerable male in their custody', Inquest Law, October 2010

'Suicide of recalled prisoner in HMP Leeds', Inquest Law June 2010

'Suicide of care leaver', Inquest Law June 2010

'"Excited delirium" related death in police custody: failures by MET Police and a FME', Inquest Law June 2010

'Part 6 of the Counter-terrorism Bill: Inquests', Leslie Thomas, Adam Straw, Kirsten Heaven, Legal Action Group Magazine, May 2008

'PPO fails to adequately investigate natural causes death', Inquest Law, June 2008

'Restraint death in mental health hospital', Kirsten Heaven and Leslie Thomas, Inquest Law, November 2008

'Suicide at HMP Foston Hall: contributed to by neglect', Inquest Law, December 2009

Training and Seminars

Kirsten is well versed in international refugee law and practice, after having taught international refugee law in Cairo and run a refugee legal aid project and advised on EU asylum law in Serbia.

What others say

“She’s very thorough, committed and always well prepared.” “She fights fantastically hard for her clients.”
Chambers UK 2019 (Inquests and Public Inquiries)

“A hugely experienced inquest practitioner who strikes fear into the hearts of state bodies.”
Legal 500 2019 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

“She is very knowledgeable and able to cut through to the key points very quickly.”
Chambers UK 2018 (Inquests and Public Inquiries)

“She combines robust advocacy with compassionate client skills”
Legal 500 2017 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

“An incredible jury advocate. She has a really good style which gets the jury on board.” “Really creative in her approach and a thoughtful tactician.”
Chambers UK 2017 (Inquests and Public Inquiries)

“A phenomenal lawyer with expertise in cases concerning deaths in state care.”
Legal 500 2016 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

“She fights harder than anyone else.” “She is incredibly good with clients, very down-to-earth and good at explaining points in context.”
Chambers UK 2016 (Inquests and Public Inquiries)

“Impressive.”
Legal 500 2015 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

“She is relentless and completely comprehensive in her approach to matters. A fantastic and fearless advocate, she is appreciated by the bereaved families for whom she acts.” “A brilliant inquest advocate who is exceptionally good with clients and at advancing the concerns of the family.”
Chambers UK 2015 (Inquests and Public Inquiries, and Police Law)

“She is very fast on her feet and is on top of the detail. Her drafting is great and her analysis is impressive.” “She is very friendly and approachable and this is why the clients like and trust her.”
Chambers UK 2014 (Police Law)

“An exceptional jury advocate, who has perfect judgement in terms of presenting a case to a jury.”
Legal 500 2014 (Civil liberties and Human Rights)

Latest News

Murder of Birmingham woman Jacqueline Oakes: Inquest concludes unlawful killing

Kirsten Heaven represented Jacqueline's family at the inquest, instructed by Andrew Petherbridge of Hudgell Solicitors.

12 October 2018

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield to go on trial for manslaughter by gross negligence

The trial of Mr Duckenfield is currently listed to start on 10 September.

29 June 2018

Jury find neglect in healthcare contributed to the death of Michalla Sweeting at HMP Eastwood Park

Michalla’s family were represented by Fiona McGhie of Irwin Mitchell and Kirsten Heaven of the Garden Court Chambers Civil Liberties and Inquest Teams. 

21 May 2018

Sussex health trust apologises "unreservedly" for failings before the death of Janet Müller

Kirsten Heaven represented the family at the inquest last year.

16 May 2018

Hillsborough Review backs ‘Hillsborough Law’

Seventeen barristers from Garden Court Chambers were involved in the Hillsborough inquests, representing 80 families of those who died.

1 November 2017

Hillsborough disaster: criminal charges against six people

Seventeen barristers from Garden Court Chambers represented 80 families at the Hillsborough inquest.

29 June 2017

Jury concludes failings contributed to death of secure patient Janet Müller who absconded from Mill View Hospital

Kirsten Heaven of Garden Court Chambers represented the family at the inquest.

19 June 2017

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

Garden Court Chambers recognised for “outstanding achievement” following Hillsborough inquests

Garden Court Chambers Hillsborough inquest team wins Outstanding Achievement Award at Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2016.

8 July 2016

Hillsborough inquest concludes 96 fans were unlawfully killed

Garden Court Chambers represented 77 families at the inquests.

26 April 2016

Coroner rules that changes must be made to the Welsh Ambulance Service to protect life in remote areas

Kirsten Heaven of Garden Court Chambers represented the family of Jasmine Lapsley in the inquest into her death.

15 January 2016

Jury returns damning conclusions at inquest into death of Imran Douglas

Imran’s mother was represented by Kirsten Heaven. Imran’s father, sister and step-mother were represented by Richard Reynolds.

5 November 2015

Chambers UK Bar Guide ranks Garden Court in Band 1

Garden Court Chambers recognised as a leading set for immigration, social housing, civil liberties, police law, Court of Protection, crime and inquests and public inquiries.

30 October 2015

Two men charged with rape of Anne-Marie Ellement

Kirsten Heaven of Garden Court Chambers represented the family of Anne-Marie at the inquest into her death.

30 October 2015

Inquest finds army bullying and alleged rape contributed to death of Anne-Marie Ellement

A coroner has found that army bullying and alleged rape contributed to the self-inflicted death of Anne-Marie Ellement, a Royal Military Police soldier. Kirsten Heaven represented Anne-Marie’s sisters.

5 March 2014

Garden Court Chambers ranked Band 1 in Chambers UK 2014

We are once again delighted to have been ranked as a leading set by Chambers and Partners in the Chambers UK 2014 directory.

31 October 2013

18 Garden Court barristers instructed on Hillsborough Inquest

Garden Court Chambers are pleased to announce that 18 Garden Court barristers have been instructed on the Hillsborough inquest.

18 October 2013

Neglect contributed to death of 19-year-old Nicholas Wheller at HMYOI Aylesbury

A jury at the inquest into the death of Nicholas Wheller at HMYOI Aylesbury has found that neglect contributed to his death. His family was represented by Kirsten Heaven.

1 July 2013

Kirsten Heaven secures damning narrative verdict in HMP Leeds bullying case

Kirsten Heaven has secured a damning narrative verdict at the inquest into the death of a man in prison in 2010.

28 May 2013

System failure in prison healthcare at HMP Moorland results in death of seriously ill prisoner

A jury sitting at Doncaster Coroners Court has found that defective care and system failure in prison healthcare at HMP Moorlands contributed to the death of Mr Robert Proctor in December 2008.

20 March 2013

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Education

  • MA (Oxon)
  • LLM International Human Rights Law (University of Essex)

Professional Membership

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