Garden Court North Chambers specialise in civil liberties and human rights law and have advised and appeared in significant human rights cases both of international importance and where international and domestic law overlap.

Recent work includes

  • Outreach Strategy guidance for War Crimes Division of High Court of Uganda;
  • Trial observations in Bahrain and report for Bar Human Rights Committee;
  • International delegation of lawyers to Colombia on a fact finding mission to support and protect human rights in Colombia;
  • Parole board hearing delays and review of sex offenders register (UK);
  • Amicus brief to US Supreme Court on the propriety of sentencing juveniles to life without parole for non-homicide offences, considering England & Wales law;
  • Appearances in the European Court of Human Rights on the Right to fair hearing (art. 6) [Ezeh & Connors v UK] and the miscarriage case of Michael Shields, convicted of attempted murder in Bulgaria. ECHR Grand Chamber appearance in Chiragov v Armenia; and
  • Members of GCN have also worked with foreign governments on penal reform, with NGOs on wide ranging issues including conditions of detention and death penalty.

Major areas of human rights work

Chambers have been involved in a number of major human rights cases developing human rights law.

Experience of international / overseas courts

Our specialist advocates have appeared before the following courts:

  • European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg;
  • European Court of Justice in Luxembourg
  • Northern Ireland Criminal courts;
  • US Supreme Court; and
  • USA Criminal Courts - Texas and Louisiana

Overseas appearances

Pete Weatherby QC presented a formal petition to the European Parliament in Brussels calling for further investigation into the miscarriage case of football fan Michael Shields', convicted of attempted murder in Bulgaria in 2005.

Mary McKeone has represented a Northern Ireland human rights NGO at the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, in Geneva.

Mark George QC has  assisted in preparing an amicus brief to be submitted to the US Supreme Court which will be considering a constitutional challenge to the propriety of sentencing juveniles to life without parole for non-homicide offences. Mark worked on the part of the brief which explains the law of England & Wales in respect of sentencing juveniles for very serious offences.

International issues within domestic law

International issues within a wide range of domestic law undertaken by Garden Court North barristers including crime (Michael Shields, human trafficking), public law, employment and discrimination, immigration and nationality/asylum law (EU directions, asylum, control terrorism, foreign national prisoners, and inquests into military deaths in Iraq.

Admitted to bars of other Jurisdictions

Members of Garden Court North are admitted to practise at the Bars of diverse jurisdictions including Northern Ireland and the Texas Bar.

Other overseas work

Death penalty work in USA

A number of members of Garden Court North have experience in death row / death penalty cases. Mark George QC appeared in a capital murder trial in Texas USA (for which time he was temporarily admitted to the Texas Bar) and regularly delivers training sessions in trial procedures in capital cases, jury selection and mitigation for the international NGO Amicus. Andrew Byles undertook an internship through the international NGO Reprieve, assisting in death penalty trials and appeals in Louisiana USA.

Human rights work in Northern Ireland

Mary McKeone has worked on a voluntary basis for the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas and has also been a member of the Management Committee of British Irish Rights Watch, (a nongovernmental human rights organisation and registered charity, which monitors the human rights dimension of the conflict and peace process in Northern Ireland). Mary represented BIRW at the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, in Geneva.

Working with foreign governments on penal reform 

Pete Weatherby QC has written a proposal for prison legislation for a foreign government.

International legal scholarship to Washington

Kate Stone undertook a Pegasus scholarship in Washington in Autumn 2009 (one of 12 scholarships granted annually). The Pegasus scholarship scheme makes it possible for gifted young lawyers to learn about the practical working of the common law system in countries other than their own, and to form enduring links with lawyers in those counties.

Specialist training on human rights law in UK and overseas

Members of GCN delivered comprehensive training to the newly formed UK Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2008 on conducting judicial review proceedings and associated Human Rights challenges. Georgina Firth was guest Lecturer at the Sorbonne, Paris in March 2002 and March 2004 on UK Human Rights Law.

Written publications 

Ian Macdonald QC is the author of Macdonald's Immigration Law and Practice 'the leading textbook on immigration' according to Chambers & partners 2009, and has also been published on the subject of both (1) International terrorism; and (2) How a claimed prerogative right to control the immigration of rights of friendly aliens became a recognised rule of customary international law.

Our Barristers

with experience in International Law

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