Specialises in public and administrative law cases with civil liberties and human rights crossover. He has considerable experience of cases which arise in the context of prison and criminal law.

Overview

Matt, a multi-disciplinary practitioner, is ranked in both the UK Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. The former describes him as “unafraid to argue novel points of law”, whilst the latter refers to his oral and written submissions as “always excellent” and describes him as an “intense and passionate advocate” and a “very confident, approachable advocate” who is “excellent on his feet”.

Matt began life at the Bar as a criminal practitioner and he has retained a busy Crown Court practice. Over time he has developed a substantial public law practice focussing on judicial reviews on behalf of prisoners, bereaved families and other cases with a civil liberties angle. He appears at inquests and acts in civil claims against public authorities, most frequently the police. He has acted as leading junior in the criminal and civil jurisdictions, including in the Court of Appeal. He has also appeared in a number of recent cases in the Supreme Court.

Matt has a particular interest in miscarriages of justice work, whether appearing in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, in human rights claims or actions against the police. He runs a website, appealsbarrister.com, which provides plain English information about the criminal appeals process and occasional blogs on topics of interest.

Matt accepts public access instructions from members of the public in cases across the range of his practice areas.

Criminal defence and appeals

Matt acts on behalf of defendants in a range of cases before the Crown Court, with a particular focus on sex cases and drugs conspiracies. He regularly acts on behalf of those accused of historical crimes, and has considerable experience of the work involved in seeking to defend such allegations (eg, R v Curran, October 2015, where he acted on behalf of a former teacher acquitted at trial). Matt adopts a client-focussed approach, and is always happy to meet with professional and lay clients as frequently as the case demands. He is a trial advocate, and is always happy to run a trial. He is always willing to provide ad hoc advice to professional clients and undertakes regular direct access work.

Matt’s criminal practice is complimented by his specialist appeals practice. He has been involved in a number of significant cases, including R v Hunter [2015] 2 Cr App R 9, the leading case on good character directions. He has acted in a number of Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referrals and judicial review challenges to CCRC decisions. He is currently instructed on behalf of miscarriage of justice victim Victor Nealon in his challenge to the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme, which was heard by the Supreme Court in May 2018.

Public law (judicial review)

Matt is instructed to act on behalf of claimants in cases across the public law spectrum, but in particular those with a human rights or civil liberties aspect. He has been involved in a number of recent and high profile cases, including at the highest level. Notable cases include:

  • R (Nealon & Hallam) v Secretary of State for Justice [2016] 3 WLR 329 – a challenge to the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme, heard by the Supreme Court in May 2018;
  • R (DSD) v Parole Board [2018] EWHC 694 (Admin) – the John Worboys case;
  • R (Hassett) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] 1 WLR 4750 – a leading case on category A prisoner reviews, currently with the Supreme Court;
  • R (Gibson) v Secretary of State for Justice [2018] 1 WLR 629 a successful Supreme Court challenge to the way in which repayments against confiscation orders are deducted from a default sentence;
  • R (NE) v Birmingham Magistrates’ Court [2015] 1 WLR 4771 – a successful challenge to a review of the sex offender notification requirements; and
  • R (Ali) v Secretary of State for Justice – Ian Lawless’ successful claim for compensation as the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Inquests and public inquiries

Matt has experience of appearing at inquests, usually in the context of deaths in custody where he draws upon his substantial experience of prison law and practice to uphold the rights of bereaved families. He appeared on behalf of the family of Mohammed Naveed Zaber, who died at HMP Stoke Heath, in which the actions of the prison authorities were criticised by the jury. He has particular experience of cases involving allegations of medical negligence.

Civil actions against the police and public authorities

Matt acts in civil claims against public authorities, most frequently the police. He is currently acting for Victor Nealon in his claim against the police resulting from the notorious miscarriage of justice that he suffered. Matt accepts cases funded by legal aid as well as conditional fee arrangements in suitable case.

In addition, Matt is involved in bringing claims under the Human Rights Act against a wide range of public authorities and has a particular interest in cases involving failures to investigate and to prosecute.

Prison law

Matt has been representing prisoners for more than 13 years and has substantial experience of prison law and practice. He continues to act at parole hearings in complex, sensitive or high profile cases. He is regularly involved in judicial review claims in prisoners’ rights cases, and has appeared in such cases at every level including the Supreme Court. He is currently acting for Charles Salvador (formerly Bronson). For further details of his notable cases please see the Public Law section of this profile.

Publications and media appearances

Matt runs a website runs a website, appealsbarrister.com, which provides plain English information about the criminal appeals process and periodic blogs on topics of interest. In addition he is a semi-regular contributor to the Justice Gap.

Privacy Notice

Matt’s Privacy Notice may be viewed by clicking here.

Recommendations

Leading Junior Civil Liberties & Human Rights - Northern (Bar): He is highly regarded for his wide-ranging civil liberties practice, encompassing areas such as Court of Protection cases and significant Crown Court matters. His diverse client base includes prisoners, bereaved families and individuals facing criminal charges. He has significant expertise in miscarriage of justice compensation cases. "He has a superior court practice and really stands out." "An excellent advocate." Recent work: Acted in R (Hassett & Price) v Secretary of State for Justice, joined applications for judicial review. The claimants challenged the refusal of the respondent to grant them an oral hearing for their category A reviews.Chambers and Partners 2019
Leading Junior Administrative & Public Law - Northern/North Eastern (Bar): Specialises in public and administrative law cases with a civil liberties and human rights crossover. He has considerable experience of cases which arise in the context of prison and criminal law. He typically acts for claimants in judicial reviews which challenge decisions by the Ministry of Justice, as well as coroners, independent adjudicators and prosecutors. He regularly appears in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. "Very quick and very efficient." Recent work: Appeared in a challenge concerning the compatibility with Article 6 ECHR of the MoJ's scheme for compensating victims of miscarriages of justice.Chambers and Partners 2019
Bold and unafraid to tackle complex cases.The UK Legal 500 2019
Leading Junior Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Northern): Highly regarded for his wide-ranging civil liberties practice, encompassing areas such as Court of Protection cases, prisoner-related judicial reviews and significant Crown Court matters. His diverse client base includes prisoners, bereaved families and various individuals facing criminal charges. He has significant expertise in miscarriage of justice compensation cases. Strengths: "He's a very good advocate who is excellent on his feet." "A very approachable, confident advocate." Recent work: Acted in R (Victor Nealon) v Secretary of State for Justice, a case concerning the compatibility of the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme with Article 6(2) of the ECHR.Chambers and Partners 2018
Leading Junior Administrative and Public Law (Northern and North Eastern): Specialises in public and administrative law cases with a civil liberties and human rights crossover. He has considerable experience of cases which arise in the context of prison and criminal law. He typically acts for claimants in judicial reviews which challenge decisions by the Ministry of Justice, as well as coroners, independent adjudicators and prosecutors. Strengths: "His oral submissions and written pleadings are always excellent." "An intense and passionate advocate. He is very passionate about his cases and this area of work." Recent work: Represented the claimant in a challenge to the compatibility of the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme with Article 6(2) ECHR. The revised scheme requires applicants to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are innocent before they are eligible to be compensated, which is alleged to infringe the presumption of innocence.Chambers and Partners 2018
He is unafraid to argue novel points of law. The UK Legal 500 2017
Leading Junior Administrative and Public Law (Northern and North Eastern): Specialises in public and administrative law cases with civil liberties and human rights crossover. He has considerable experience of cases which arise in the context of prison and criminal law. Strengths: "An excellent advocate." Chambers and Partners 2017
Leading Junior Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Northern): Highly regarded for his wide-ranging civil liberties practice, encompassing areas such as Court of Protection cases, miscarriages of justice, prisoner-related judicial reviews and significant Crown Court matters. His diverse client base includes prisoners, bereaved families and various individuals facing criminal charges. Chambers and Partners 2017
Leading Junior Administrative and Public Law (Northern and North Eastern): "He's tenacious, goes the extra mile and is very personable." "One of the benefits of instructing him is you can give him a considerable wealth of paperwork and he can home in and elucidate clearly."Chambers and Partners 2016
Leading Junior Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Northern): A specialist public law barrister who is well versed in criminal law. He has a diverse human rights practice and is instructed to act for victims of miscarriages of justice seeking compensation, as well as for bereaved families in judicial reviews and inquests. Chambers and Partners 2016
Leading Junior Administrative and Public Law (Northern): Focuses on handling public law actions on behalf of claimants, typically founded in the areas of prison law and the rights of women. He is particularly interested in equality and statutory construction issues. "The standard of his work is excellent. He's very clear and concise in the arguments he puts forward, and anticipates and deals with contrary positions." "He is very dynamic and passionate about his work." Acted for the claimant in a successful judicial review challenging the decision of the Justice Secretary not to award compensation to the claimant as a victim of a miscarriage of justice. Chambers and Partners 2015
Leading Junior Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Northern): Specialises in human rights actions relating to miscarriages of justice, the rights of prisoners and the representation of bereaved families at inquests. He has a further interest in points of discrimination and equality. "He's very enthusiastic and is definitely an up-and-coming figure; he has a good reputation in prisoners' rights work." He acted in a judicial review challenge to the Justice Secretary's policy on strip-searching female prisoners, founded on the contention that a failure to balance the risk to their mental health against security considerations breached their rights under Article 8 ECHR. Chambers and Partners 2015

 

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