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Doughty Street Chambers 25 years on - Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Doughty Street has been a leader in the field of criminal appellate work since chambers’ inception in 1990. Many of the criminal appeals in which Doughty Street members have acted resulted in historic victories for individuals who suffered miscarriages of justice.

The convictions of the ‘Guildford Four’ and ‘Birmingham Six’ in 1975, for example, are among the most notorious of the time. In a landmark decision of the Court of Appeal in 1989 which brought to an end the Guildford Four’s fifteen year incarceration for convictions relating to IRA bombings, the Court decided that their convictions were ‘untenable’ In the case of the ‘Birmingham Six’, the appellants’ convictions for murder and conspiracy to cause explosions arising from an IRA bombing were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991. The Court of Appeal held that that there were ‘serious doubts’ about the scientific evidence and police evidence of confessions relied upon at trial.

Doughty Street barristers have acted in cases which pushed the boundaries of criminal law. Many appeals taken by members of chambers secured positive legal development and have acquired academic significance. Cases such as R v Ahluwalia and Kennedy No 2, for example, are among the most significant of 20th century authorities on issues such as the defences available to ‘battered wives’ and the principles of causation and complicity in criminal law. The case of Powell and English remains one of the most prominent decisions of the UK courts regarding the controversial doctrine of ‘joint enterprise’ and continues to be cited in the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Privy Council in murder cases involving secondary parties. In 2015 Doughty Street barristers were back in the Supreme Court acting for the interveners Just For Kids Law and JENGbA in R v Jogee, which has challenged the current law on joint enterprise.

Members of chambers have used their multidisciplinary expertise in cases which demonstrate the interaction between criminal justice and other areas of law. The case of R v Asfaw was a ground breaking case in which the House of Lords considered the scope of the Refugee Convention and related domestic legislation in prosecutions brought against asylum seekers. In that case, the conviction of an Ethiopian asylum seeker was quashed because the House of Lords ruled that she had been deprived of a defence at trial, contrary to the provisions of the Convention.

For more information on the work of the appeals team, please see our crime team page.

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