Stephen's practice focuses on individual rights in four discrete areas. These are civil claims against the police and public authorities; inquests; mental health and Court of Protection; public law/judicial review. He was one of the lead advocates representing bereaved families in the Hillsborough Inquests and has appeared as advocate in a number of public inquiries.
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 countless others that settle on favourable terms. He has appeared in many of the leading appellate decisions in this area.
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.
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’s legal knowledge and skill at pleading meant he was commissioned to write the section on Malicious Prosecution for the latest edition of Atkin’s Court Forms.
Keegan v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police  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  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  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  EWCA 1774,  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  EWCA Civ 308,  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  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  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  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  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 officer)
Daniels and Gillard v Chief Constable of South Wales Police  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 three-month trial in the High Court took place later that year.)
Mouncher & Ors v South Wales Police  EWHC 1367 (QB) (A complex claim in the High Court involving several claimants, all former police officers, who allege false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.)
Vian & Ors v Commissioner of Police  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 covered in the media, as well as an independent inquiry.)
Rees & Ors v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  EWCA Civ 1587 (Successful appeal of Vian & Ors v Commissioner of Police  EWHC 273. Stephen’s client won a malicious prosecution claim against police over Daniel Morgan murder as the decision of the trial judge was reversed.)
Rees & Ors v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 2339 (QB) (Damages awarded following the judgment in Rees & Ors v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  EWCA Civ 1587. Leading case on damages for malicious prosecution)
Stephen is a 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 was lead advocate for a group of families in the Hillsborough inquests. His questioning of police officers about the inadequate emergency police response to the unfolding disaster at Hillsborough was regularly reported in national media, as was his questioning of Kenny Dalglish. He, along with the other family legal teams from the Hillsborough Inquests, was a recipient of Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2016.
Stephen was also instructed on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse in three phases of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, appearing in the “Nottinghamshire Councils” phase, the “Accountability and Reparations” phase and the “Lambeth Council” phase. This public inquiry is one of the biggest ever.
Stephen has sat as an Assistant Coroner.
Judicial review involving inquests
R v HM Coroner for Swansea ex parte Chief Constable of South Wales  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  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  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  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  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  EWCA Civ 1479,  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  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)
Stephen conducts complex hearings before what used to be called the Mental Health Review Tribunal, along with associated judicial review and habeas corpus. These hearings involve restricted patients and those with so-called "dangerous severe personality disorder" in Rampton, Broadmoor and other special hospitals. He is also an expert in damages claims arising out of psychiatric detention. He is an editor of the Community Care Law Reports. Since taking silk, he has represented a number of agencies intervening in important cases, including Mind (the Mental Health charity) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
His interest and expertise in mental health law has also led him into difficult Court of Protection cases referred to below.
Re Briscoe  COD 402 (successful habeas corpus application in relation to improperly detained psychiatric patient)
R (on application of C) v Mental Health Review Tribunal  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  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  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  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  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  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  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  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  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  EWHC 1717 (Admin)  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)  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  UKUT 319 (AAC),  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  UKUT 119, (Upper Tribunal, Administrative Appeals)  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  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)
A Health and Social Care Trust v Mr O and Mr R (ICOS 2020/ 0029), High Court of Northern Ireland (Intervening on behalf of Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in case concerning conditionally discharged patients).
R (WA (Palestinian Territories) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 12 (intervened on behalf of Mind in a case concerning a vulnerable man refusing food in a case about the extent of Article 2 and Article 8 duties on state agencies).
Stephen's 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.
Judicial review/ habeas corpus, including in criminal proceedings and ASBOs
R v Crown Court at Maidstone ex parte Schulz  COD 182 (while still a pupil, successfully obtaining judicial review of custody time limits extension)
R v Highgate Justices ex parte Riley  COD 12 (quashing a summary trial due to a magistrate's intervention displaying bias)
R (application of P) v Barking Youth Court  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  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  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  1 Cr App R (S) 76 (successfully quashing ASBO made against a child)
R (application of Mills) v Birmingham Magistrates' Court  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  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  EWHC 213 (Admin) (assisting in successful judicial review of conditions of detention in Immigration Detention Centres).
Other significant cases
Malik v Selfridges  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  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)
Stephen's interest and expertise in mental health law has led him into difficult Court of Protection cases, particularly involving contested allegations of physical or financial abuse, or where several of the parties suffer from mental illness or difficulty.
PB v RB and Another  EWCOP B41 (appellate point about meaning of "prohibit" in context of Court of Protection).
Re M  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  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)
Stephen 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. He is at the centre of some of the cases involving opposition to fracking.
Injunctions against protesters heard in the higher courts
EDO MBM Technology and others v Axworthy and others  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 EWHC 1957 (QB) (preventing wide-ranging injunction that would have allowed arrest of anyone opposed to airport expansion)
University of Oxford v Broughton  EWHC 75 (successfully resisting use of harassment injunction to prevent peaceful protest at university ceremonies)
INEOS Upstream v Persons Unknown  EWHC 2945 (Ch) ( arguing against an injunction being granted against protestors against fracking: expected in the Court of Appeal later)
UKCOG v Persons Unknown  EWHC 2252 (Ch) (proceedings in the High Court against fracking protestors)
Boyd and others v INEOS  EWCA Civ 515 (successful appeal in Court of Appeal overturning draconian injunctions preventing protests against INEOS fracking activities)
Stephen Simblet QC is an expert in inquests and inquiries, in claims against the police and public authorities, in the law affecting the mentally disordered and vulnerable and in restrictions on protests.
He has represented the families of the bereaved and the victims of abuse in many complex and difficult inquiries, including taking a leading role in the Hillsborough Inquests and in the important phases of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. The requirements of Article 2 and Article 3 ECHR in the conduct of inquiries and inquests is central to his work. His inquest experience includes representing those who have died in psychiatric care, and looking at care plans and measures to keep people safe. During the pandemic, he has been involved in some important challenges to the way proceedings involving psychiatric patients are handled, including the policy of refusing patients the right to be examined by the tribunal medical member, which was effectively abolished without any Parliamentary approval for administrative reasons.
He has also published articles in the legal press on the importance of in- person court proceedings in ensuring the accountability of the court and judiciary for decisions and the involvement of the parties affected.
Stephen has also taken a leading role in important High Court cases involving restrictions on protestors’ rights and the importance of Article 10/Article 11 ECHR in protecting the right to demonstrate. He has spoken about the challenges of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021.