Garden Court North Chambers was established in 1996 by a group of young barristers wanting to provide a radical alternative to the more traditional barristers’ chambers.
Our founding ethos was one of upholding the rights of the individual against the state and supporting people disadvantaged in society by offering pro-bono or publicly-funded representation.
This progressive ethos is something of which we are incredibly proud and to which we have an unwavering commitment.
This philosophy is exemplified by the leaders we have seen as Garden Court North. Our Heads of Chambers have always been at the forefront of challenging and reforming inequality and pursuing and securing justice for the most marginalised.
- Inquest into the death of Youesf Makki (2021 - 2023)
In 2019, Yousef Makki died as a result of a single stab wound to the chest. A fresh inquest has been granted after the previous narrative verdict was quashed by the High Court.
On 25 October 2023, having heard the evidence afresh, HMC Geraint Williams concluded that Yousef had been unlawfully killed.
- Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Timson  EWCA Civ 656 (9 June 2023)
Tom Royston, led by Jenni Richards KC and instructed by Emma Varley at Bindmans, secured a very important judgment on fair procedure in the benefits system, with the potential to help prevent large deductions being made inappropriately from the benefit incomes of families who are already in poverty.
- Inquest into the death of Awaab Ishak (2022)
Awaab Ishak died as a result of a severe respiratory condition due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home environment. Since the inquest, Christian Weaver has successfully campaigned alongside Awaab’s family, Christian’s instructing solicitor Kelly Darlington, Head of Inquests at Farleys LLP, and the Manchester Evening News for ‘Awaab’s Law’ to be introduced.
- Elkundi, R (On the Application Of) v Birmingham City Council  EWCA Civ 601 (04 May 2022)
Joseph Markus, led by Zia Nabi and instructed by the Community Law Partnership secured a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal has upheld Steyn J’s ruling in the High Court that Birmingham City Council has been operating an unlawful system for the performance of its main housing duty under the Housing Act 1996.
- Re C  EWCA Civ 1527
The Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Re C on whether it was lawful for carers of a man with a mental impairment to help him to engage the services of a sex worker. Ben McCormack was Junior Counsel for C, instructed by Philippa Curran of Odonnells Solicitors and led by Victoria Butler-Cole QC of 39 Essex Chambers.
- McLaughlin, Re Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) (Rev 1)  UKSC 48, and Jackson & Ors v The Secretary of State for Work And Pensions  EWHC 183 (Admin)
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that cohabiting parents will be able to claim bereavement benefits to help them bring up dependent children as a result of these two cases brought by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) with The Childhood Bereavement Network (CBN) in which GCN’s social security specialist Tom Royston was involved.
- The new Hillsborough inquests (2014-2016)
Members of Garden Court North represented 22 families at the inquests and are still involved in the campaign to introduce Hillsborough Law.
- Manchester City Council v Pinnock  2 AC 104  UKSC 45
James Stark was involved in this case which held that proportionality of an eviction can be raised as a defence in claims brought by public authorities reversing three earlier decisions of the House of Lords.
- Regina v. Her Majesty's Coroner for the Western District of Somerset (Respondent) and another (Appellant) ex parte Middleton (FC) (Respondent)  UKHL 10 on appeal from:  EWCA Civ 390
Pete Weatherby KC appeared in the House of Lords for a leading case on application of Article 2 to inquest proceedings and the ambit of neglect verdicts.
Previous Heads of Chambers
Our proud history has been made under the leadership of remarkable individuals who shared, promoted and lived by the ethos which still unites our members today.
- Ian Macdonald QC
Our founding Head of Chambers in 1996 was Ian Macdonald QC. A pioneering barrister and an inspirational leader.
Ian was held in very high esteem as an activist, practising trial and appellate lawyer, an academic and author of seminal legal texts such as Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice, as well as a trailblazer of committed anti-racist legal practice.
Ian’s reputation as a successful trial lawyer was forged in the 1970s and 80s in the high-profile Mangrove Nine, Angry Brigade, and Balcombe Street siege trials, in his representation of families of those who had died in the Deptford fire and in the Black Parents Association and students’ association cases in London and Manchester. These trials challenged, amongst other matters, the unrepresentative composition of juries, police harassment of the black community and its spokespeople, the many racial injustices in housing, policing, prosecution and immigration decision-making and unfair trial and prosecutorial procedures.
- Mark George KC
Mark George KC followed Ian as Head of Chambers, taking up the role in 2013 until his sad passing in December 2022.
Mark joined Garden Court North in 2000 and was a principled and popular advocate whose presence, friendship, strength and wisdom was greatly appreciated by all who knew him.
Mark was determined to become a lawyer after seeing TV footage in the mid-1960s of American police officers beating civil rights demonstrators. He wanted to represent people fighting for their rights against the power of the state. Many of his first cases involved defending protesters arrested after a large anti-Nazi demonstration against the National Front in South London in 1977.
He continued to represent protesters in myriad causes as well as people accused of the most serious criminal offences, including many cases of murder. He is perhaps best known however for his tireless work representing 22 families in the Hillsborough Inquests, his involvement in the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, his leading role in pushing the Criminal Bar Association into action to save the criminal bar and CJS, and many miscarriage of justice cases. Mark regularly lectured on miscarriage cases, and he was a trustee of Amicus – the anti-death penalty NGO, training a generation of lawyers on the subject and appearing in US death penalty cases.