“He offers an extremely thorough analysis of all the pertinent issues in a case, and is tenacious when on his feet.”
Chambers & Partners
Experience & expertise
James is a leading public, civil and regulatory barrister. Over the past decade, he has been involved in numerous high profile and complex cases in a wide variety of courts and tribunals up to and including the Court of Appeal. James often appears unled against KCs and more senior counsel. He is equally comfortable making detailed legal submissions in a judicial review as he is cross examining witnesses in front of a civil or inquest jury.
James is recognised in the legal directories as a leading junior in Inquests & Inquiries, Police Law, for which Chambers & Partners ranks him in “Band 1” and Professional Discipline, for which he was awarded “Professional Discipline Junior of the Year” at the 2020 Chambers Bar Awards. His practice also encompasses judicial review, healthcare, employment, human rights, information and general civil law. He was shortlisted for the Public Services and Charities Junior of the Year Award at The Legal 500 UK Bar Awards 2023.
James is a member of the Attorney General’s B Panel. He holds law degrees from UCL (1st Class Honours) and Harvard Law School. He acts as legal advisor to the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Human Rights Committee.
His current cases include the Undercover Policing Inquiry, the Guildford Pub Bombings Inquests, the Inquests into the deaths the victims of the ‘Grindr killer’ as well as a number of important judicial reviews, complex professional disciplinary proceedings and high value civil claims.
Inquests, Inquiries AND INVESTIGATIONS
James was ranked as a leading junior for Inquests & Inquiries in Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 2020. He has appeared in many of the most significant recent inquests and public inquiries, and numerous multi-day Article 2 jury inquests.
For over a decade James has represented bereaved families and individuals or bodies designated as ‘interested persons’ at inquests or ‘core participants’ at public inquiries including NHS and private sector healthcare providers, healthcare professionals, public and private prison providers, police forces and police officers.
James is an expert in coronial and public inquiry law and the requirements of an Article 2 ECHR compliant investigation. He has advised and appeared in judicial review proceedings on behalf of Coroners and Interested Persons where a Coroner’s decision is being challenged.
- Leveson Inquiry
- Undercover Policing Inquiry
- Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (Internet investigation, Anglican Church investigation, Lambeth Care Homes Investigation, Organised Networks investigation and Leadership investigation)
- Infected Blood Inquiry.
- Guildford Pub Bombings (1974) Inquests
- Hillsborough Inquests
- Inquests into the deaths of the victims of the ‘Grindr killer’ Stephen Port
- Inquest into the death of Caroline Flack (TV presenter)
- Inquest into the death of Dale Burns (first death alleged to have been caused by Taser)
- Inquest into the death of Raoul Moat (Birtley gunman)
- Numerous cases where deaths have occurred in prison or mental health detention
- Numerous cases where deaths have occurred during or following medical treatment or in hospitals or care homes
- Numerous cases where deaths have occurred in police custody or following police contact including shootings, restraint, and collisions.
James has also advised organisations and individuals on internal investigations both in the public and the private sector.
James is one of the most sought after police law juniors at the Bar and has been trusted with some of the police service’s most sensitive and high-profile cases over the past decade. He was ranked as a leading junior in both the Legal 500 and in Chambers & Partners 2020, in which he was ranked in “Band 1”.
There are few areas of litigation involving the police that James does not have experience of. He is often called upon to deal with novel claims, and to advise on the application of new law or on the legal aspects of ongoing policing operations. His police practice includes:
- Civil actions including false imprisonment, assault, misfeasance in public office, malicious prosecution and negligence
- Human rights claims, particularly for breaches of Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 14 ECHR
- Judicial review of a whole variety of policing decisions (see separate profile).
- Inquests and Public Inquiries (see separate profile)
- Police misconduct (see separate profile)
- Police pensions
- RIPA / IPA matters, including appearing before the IPT
- Public Interest Immunity and related applications in a variety of jurisdictions
- Operational advice including real-time advice on the use of police powers
- Advice on the powers of Chief Constables and PCCs, including charging for police services and entering collaboration agreements
- Employment Tribunal claims, particularly discrimination and whistleblowing claims linked to misconduct proceedings
- Data Protection and Freedom of Information.
As well as representing most police forces in the country, James also acts for the NCA, the NPCC, the College of Policing, the IOPC, PCCs, PCPs and all three of the police staff associations.
PUBLIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
James has significant experience in advising on and appearing in judicial review proceedings for both for claimants and defendants. He is a member of the Attorney General’s B Panel of Counsel.
He has particular experience of challenges to decisions:
- Decisions on the provision of health and/or social care
- Decisions of Coroners and chairs of public inquiries
- Decisions relating to police investigations or the use of police powers including search warrants, cautions, the retention of seized property and decisions as to whether to commence, continue or resume criminal investigations
- Decisions relating to the sharing or release of information including on ECRCs
- Decisions by professional regulators or disciplinary tribunals.
Much of James’ judicial review work involves consideration of human rights and he has particular experience of cases concerning Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 14 ECHR.
PROFESSIONAL DISCIPLINE AND REGULATORY LAW
James was Chambers & Partners’ ‘Professional Discipline Junior of the Year’ for 2020.
He has been representing regulators and professionals appearing before them for over a decade and was recognised in Chambers & Partners 2020 as a leading junior in Professional Discipline.
James is experienced in representing both regulators and professionals and acts principally in the police and healthcare regulation (GMC, GDC and medical school disciplinary hearings).
In addition to appearing before professional disciplinary tribunals at first instance and on appeal, James has significant experience of challenging regulatory decisions in the Administrative Court. For instance, James appeared in:
- The first successful challenge to of a decision of the Police Appeals Tribunal
- The first successful challenge to a police officer’s suspension
- The first successful challenge to of a “case to answer” decision
- The second successful challenge to a police misconduct panel’s decision on sanction.
James is frequently instructed to advise on complex legal questions relating to professional disciplinary law including its intersection with crime, inquests / inquiries, human rights, employment, public and equality law.
In the field of police misconduct and regulation, James is often called upon to assist police forces and staff associations with their most sensitive, complex and high profile cases or to take over cases on appeal or for judicial review challenges. He also advises and represents the IOPC, PCCs and PCP.
James takes an active interest in the development of policy in police misconduct and regulation, including participating in the Home Office’s advisory group that developed the proposals for hearings in public and independent legally qualified chairs and in his role as a member of the Policing and Crime Bill Committee during his time as a Member of Parliament (2015-2017). He has assisted clients with submissions to government consultations and representations to the Home Office.
James is currently co-authoring the second edition of the leading practitioner text Police Complaints, Misconduct and Professional Regulation (OUP).
Court of Protection / Medical Treatment
James appears in ‘best interests’ cases concerning children and adults who lack capacity in the Family Division and the Court of Protection. His particular focus is serious medical treatment cases and he has appeared in a number of urgent out of hours applications concerning religious and ethical objections to treatment, needle phobias, and withdrawal of treatment. He has appeared in numerous cases in the Court of Protection, including obtaining first order preventing identification of a protected party on Twitter and Facebook.
James has written chapters on Consent and Abortion in four successive editions of Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law (Bloomsbury Professional). Before coming to the Bar, James undertook research comparing English and US law on withdrawal of treatment from severely disabled infants at Harvard Law School.
James specialises in all aspects of healthcare law. He has advised and appeared in a number of judicial reviews concerning the provision of healthcare services.
For the first 10 years of his practice James had a busy general clinical negligence and product liability practice, but he now focuses almost exclusively on:
- Claims arising out of inadequate mental health care
- Fatal claims, usually arising out of inquests in which he has represented the family of the deceased or other interested persons
- Claims under the Human Rights Act 1998.
James has appeared in numerous cases before the Employment Tribunal for employees, major international corporations and large public sector employers, often in complex multi-day discrimination and whistleblowing claims.
His experience includes claims for:
- Unfair and wrongful dismissal
- Discrimination of all forms.
He has a particular interest in the cross section between employment and professional discipline. He has advised on internal investigations and contractual disciplinary procedures.
Business and specialist crime
James has experience of advising on criminal liability affecting public bodies and individuals holding public office including corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and misconduct in public office. He has particular experience of potential criminal liability arising from matters being considered in inquests and professional regulatory investigations.
James specialises in judicial review challenges to matters arising out of criminal investigations.
Spending a couple of years away from practice as an MP, I realised that one of the great things about the Bar is the ability to give one case and one client 100% of your attention while advising or in the run up to trial.
Teamwork is vital. Often the best arguments and litigation strategies are developed by the client, instructing solicitor and counsel bringing their different perspectives and experience to bear on an issue.
Litigation is our business. But for our clients or witnesses, it is usually disruptive, often stressful and sometimes potentially career-ending. It is important to understand every client’s concerns and to give clear advice on the different risks of litigation.
James was the founding editor of the UK Police Law Blog and co-edits the Police Law Reports.
James co-authored chapter one: Consent – General in the fourth edition of the book Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law, edited by Christopher Johnston KC and Sophia Roper KC and written by 27 members of Serjeants’ Inn. As well as, chapters in the previous three editions of the book.
James is recognised in the legal directories as a leading junior in Inquests & Inquiries, Police Law, for which he is ranked “Band 1” and Professional Discipline, for which he was awarded “Professional Discipline Junior of the Year” at the 2020 Chambers Bar Awards, and was shortlisted for the Public Law Junior of the Year Award 2022 by The Legal 500. He was also shortlisted for the Public Services and Charities Junior of the Year Award at The Legal 500 UK Bar Awards 2023. He is described by the Legal 500 as “An exceptional junior, who quickly identifies the issue and tackles it head-on.”
Chambers & Partners notes that James is “tactically astute. He has a reputation for being quite an intellect. He is determined to win and excellent with detail. His legal knowledge is wide-ranging and deep, and he offers robust advice. He is an extremely competent barrister who has dealt with all matters confidently and enthusiastically. He has been a pleasure to work with and brings a very keen analytical eye to complex issues, particularly in the area of police law and practice.”
His clients cited in the directories comment as follows:
- a brilliant junior;
- an expert in his field;
- always pleasant in court, but is a fearsome opponent;
- James has got gravity beyond his years;
- an excellent police and public law barrister;
- a first-class junior;
- outstanding analytical skills;
- incredibly hard-working and fantastic with clients in stressful situations;
- he makes clients feel immediately at ease and confident in his approach;
- he has a very good sense of the strategic issues when presenting cases;
- incredibly sound judgement, very user-friendly;
- very bright and hard-working;
- a fluent, confident advocate;
- quick on his feet and masterful in cross-examination;
- has a really nice manner with police officers;
- he offers pragmatic and sensible advice;
- an excellent brain and a confident court presence;
- you feel entirely confident in his advice and approach;
- James has handled some extremely complex and sensitive cases for police forces, showing complete understanding of the client’s requirements and expectations, with a mastery of the relevant law;
- manages the client’s expectations very well;
- he’s got impressive strategic abilities in cases;
- great judgement;
- he spots the key winning arguments from the early stages;
- a very smooth, very skilled barrister;
- focuses on judicial reviews, inquests, inquiries, false imprisonment cases, human rights claims and misconduct hearings;
- he is at home in cases where the actions of forces and other police bodies are subject to the highest public scrutiny;
- you have your work cut out when he’s on the other side;
- delightful to work with;
- diligent, pragmatic, dedicated;
- quickly gains the client’s confidence;
- very able and is no one’s fool;
- he produces good analysis and is very approachable and measured;
- extremely hard-working, determined and a star of the future;
- he is extremely talented, approachable and easily contactable;
- he has excellent judgement and a nice manner as well;
- he has a lovely way with his advocacy and doesn’t take bad points;
- able to see the bigger picture in complex claims;
- a good, combative but not overly defensive advocate, who will fight well and hard if; necessary but without losing sight of the wider picture;
- offers an extremely thorough analysis of all the pertinent issues in a case;
- able to absorb issues with impressive speed;
- is skilled in providing precise direction to clients;
- his drafting is also exemplary and his advocacy exceptional;
- tenacious when on his feet;
- engaging and a pleasure to work with;
- great attention to detail and an impressive advocate;
- he is detailed and he comes across well to the jury;
- his written work is excellent;
- offers good and clear advice;
- thorough, robust, popular with officers;
- very efficient on his feet;
- someone with a keen forensic eye;
- extremely clever;
- excellent case preparation and research skills;
- he is reassuring when providing advice and is a very safe set of hands;
- has a friendly demeanour;
- the attention to detail he displays when he’s on his feet is amazing;
- well prepared;
- combines gentlemanly robustness with fierce intelligence;
- a bit of a rising star;
- highly intelligent, the advice he provides is always well thought out and detailed;
- meticulous and skilled in the fine detail;
- highly rated in the market for his hard-working ethos;
- very thorough in his openings and cross-examinations;
- passionate commitment to the clients he represents; and
- tenacious and fiendishly clever.
James adopts and adheres to the provisions of the privacy notice which can be accessed here.
For further details of James’ practice please contact a member of the clerking or client service team.
Bar Council Membership No: 50154
Registered Name: Michael James Ellwood Berry
VAT Registration No: 940268526