Rachel Spearing

Call 1999


Rachel is a Senior Junior with a novel practice at Serjeants’ Inn which includes Civil, Criminal and Public Law. She maintains a specialist interest with Policing and Intelligence led investigations drawing upon her former experience in prosecution and defence criminal work. She provides advice and appears on behalf of Police in sensitive disclosure matters across a variety of divisions of courts in the UK.

Her current practice focuses upon Inquests, Inquiries and Investigations. She is regularly instructed to act as Independent Counsel by Investigating Authorities and Police to safeguard  compliance with common law duties. This includes legal and parliamentary privilege in high profile and complex matters.

Rachel is clerked primarily by Lee Johnson, Clare Sabido, Jennifer Pooler and Emma Bell.

Rachel is the co-founder of the Bar Wellbeing Initiative, which aims to address and support the challenges facing the legal profession. For more information visit the Bar Council’s Wellbeing website.

“Sensitive, sensible and seriously smart”

Instructing solicitor

Experience & Expertise

Prior to a career at the Bar Rachel worked in Capital Markets in a US investment bank. In 2014 she attended the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology adding a Masters in Global Risk Management and Criminology to support her work with organisations.

In 2017 she founded the Wellness for Law UK Network a ‘not for profit’ organisation providing a network of research professionals, clinicians and practitioners to support and share positive practice and initiatives to improve health and wellbeing at the Bar.

Appointed a Fellow of Higher Education & Academia in 2016, she has developed bespoke executive education and training for boards and business to facilitate regulatory, due-diligence and monitoring requirements. She was appointed a Fellow of the Dispute Resolution Centre at Bond University in Australia in 2017, and a Senior Consultant to the Singapore Academy of Law in June 2017.

Rachel also provides consultancy via a ‘think tank’ to support business leaders (including the Royal College of Surgeons) on regulatory, and disciplinary issues. She has designed and delivered executive education training via FCO, Commonwealth and Consultancy to the Nigerian Government, British Virgin Islands, Ghana Government and corporate clients in financial, regulatory law and Penology.

Rachel was appointed a Judicial Officer of the Disciplinary Panel of The British Horseracing Authority in 2020, is a member of the Football Association Judicial Panel and Safeguarding Review Panel as a specialist member with eligibility to Chair Regulatory Commissions and Appeal Boards.  She sits as an Assistant Coroner in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton.  Between 2019-22 she was the Assistant Chief Examiner for Ethics by the Bar Standards Board.

Inquests & Inquiries

Rachel’s experience in coronial proceedings includes acting on behalf of Trusts, Police, Prisons, Medical and Nursing professionals.  She has particular expertise of managing sensitive inquests or inquiries where there may be high profile issues, media interest or subsequent disciplinary or criminal/civil implications. She has experience of Article 2 and Jury Inquests. She draws on her civil, criminal and public law knowledge to advise and assist with a client focused outcome.  She is one of the editorial team for the Inquest Law Reports.

Rachel is also instructed in relation to private and public inquiries. She recently worked with HH Brian Barker CBE KC as Counsel to a private inquiry, where she combined her expertise to develop terms of reference, conduct the inquiry and draft a report relating to governance, whistleblowing and due diligence reporting and recommendations.


Rachel has an extraordinary range and depth of experience in this area, including all aspects of Financial Regulation, Data Protection, Proceeds of Crime, (Including Restraint, Confiscation, Contempt, Receivership & Enforcement), Bribery & Corruption, Money Laundering, Civil & Criminal Fraud and Directors Disqualification.

Rachel provides advice and representation to wide range of clients from hedge funds to private equity groups, regulators and professional bodies to directors and senior executives.

She has undertaken secondments with the Revenue & Customs Prosecution Office, (Asset Forfeiture Department), the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She is regularly instructed for expertise in relation to security surveillance and private investigations.

In 2004 she provided General Counsel assistance in New York for a UK Advertising Agency advising on regulatory duties between US & UK.

Rachel was admitted to the Specialist Regulatory Advocates Panel for the Health & Safety Exec, the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, the Office of Rail and Road, the Care Quality Commission and the Office for Nuclear Regulation and appears in matters at first instance and appeal.

Data & Information Rights

Rachel assists a wide range of clients with statutory compliance, reporting and management of requests under FOIA and GDPR.  She prosecutes on behalf of the Information Commissioner’s Office in relation to breach matters, and has appeared in civil, criminal courts and information tribunal appeals.

Notable cases include:

  • Shepherd v Information Commissioner [2019] EWCA Crim 2: Leading Authority concerning the reverse burden and standards of proof in data protection act defences.
  • TBG v A Chief Con of Police [2022] EWHC 2665 (Admin): Important guidance concerning the application and lawfulness of Sexual Harm Prevention Orders in addition to Life Licence for potentially dangerous persons to public.
  • R v T: ‘Operation Carnival’ substantial bank fraud. Multi-national and multi-handed.
  • Scott v HMRC: Confiscation – Hidden Assets, PII and findings of fact by sole Judge in contested confiscation hearings following plea to substantive offences. Procedure to be applied for hidden assets.
  • The Cargo Inquiry: Successful reinstatement & overturning of Stewards Enquiry at Jockey Club Appeal. Acting for Owners & Trainers.
  • Kent Trading Standards v Bonner: Test Case involving novel legal argument. Successful prosecution of ‘Irish Tom’ rogue horse dealer in Kent under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968
  • Re: C: Leading Authority concerning Extradition to Romania. High Court, House of Lords & Strasbourg. Led by Edward Fitzgerald KC.
  • Re V: Novel F.A.C.T Private Prosecution of global counterfeiting fraud (successfully defending)

Sport & Regulation

A keen rider and follower of horse racing, Rachel has provided advice & representation to the Race Owners Association, National Trainers Federation and Jockey Club conducting hearings, appeal and advice following Steward and regulatory enquiry. She has also provided assistance to the League Managers Association and other main sport regulatory bodies.  She has acted for players and professionals in disciplinary, conduct and criminal matters.


Rachel qualified as a Civil & Commercial Mediator in 2015, She undertakes facilitative mediation to support dispute resolution in a wide range of disputes. She brings a practical, empathetic and efficient approach to support resolving complex and contentious matters.

Rachel helps parties to concentrate on essential issues, understand and make a realistic assessment of one another’s cases, canvass ways forward and formulate an agreed solution.

Rachel also provides advice to clients on risk management and pre-litigation preventive measures.

General Crime:

Rachel has been instructed as a senior junior over the last 15 years in cases of serious and organised crime, involving murder, drugs, RASSO, fraud and POCA. She maintains a specialist interest with Intelligence led investigations. She provides advice and appears on behalf of Police in sensitive and PII matters in all court jurisdictions including family, chancery, civil and admin divisions.

Her current practice focuses on corporate criminal responsibility, civil and criminal fraud and financial crime.

Independent Counsel

Rachel is regularly instructed to act as Independent Counsel by Investigating Authorities and Police. She provides preparatory guidance to safeguard warrant application, seizure and compliance with common law duties. This includes legal and parliamentary privilege in high profile and complex matters.

Cases and Work of note

  • R v K & Others: ‘Operation Eyeful’. Largest ever, single importation of cocaine in customs history.
  • Appeals to CA & Strasbourg. Trial and International Confiscation.
  • R v H & Others: Gangland Kidnap, Murder & Attempted Murder.
  • R v L & Others: Chinese Organised Crime, human trafficking and money laundering.
  • R v K & Others: Turkish Drugs Conspiracy. Lengthy drugs/violence international organised crime.
  • R v A & Others: Multi-handed Murder / Violent Disorder between Iraqi/Kurd organised crime.
  • R v K & Others: ‘Operation Benbradagh’ Largest undercover Met Drugs Operation. Extensive legal arguments relating to RIPA & Covert Methods. Abuse of Process.
  • R v D & Other: ‘Operation Benzol’. NCA / Customs substantial cannabis importation conspiracy. Legal arguments relating to use of probes, RIPA.
  • R v A: ‘Operation Carousel’. Multi-handed, multi-national identity conspiracy to defraud. Civil and Criminal proceedings with multiple restraint aspects.


Rachel is a frequent commentator on the law and on the profession with examples as follows:

Other work includes:

  • The Annual Bar Conference (2017 Chair)
  • Masters thesis planned for publication in 2018 (via Cambridge University Press & Institute of Criminology) ‘Risk Takers & Rule Breakers in Banking – Predicting Crime’ part of a compendium with professors within SAT discipline (Situation Action Theory).
  • Educating for Well-being in Law (Chapter 13), Positive Professional Identity & Well­being at the UK Bar. Published by Taylor & Francis, under Routledge imprint. Final print due July 2018, for publication Oct 2018.
  • Extensively contributed to CPD training for solicitors (General Crime, Criminal Responsibility in Business, POCA & Wellbeing)
  • Wellbeing at the Bar Portal: co-founded the initiative & led the research/professional response for Bar Council. www.wellbeingatthebar.org
  • Drafted BSB policy & protocol for practical application of the Handbook Code on Fitness & Mental Health
  • Trained BSB Staff (summer 2017)


Rachel adopts and adheres to the provisions of the privacy notice which can be accessed here.


For further details of Rachel’s practice please contact a member of the clerking or client service team.

Bar Council Membership No: 40334
Registered Name: Rachel Michelle Spearing
VAT Registration No: 855057318