Death Penalty

Death Penalty

Representation in capital cases is a long and honourable tradition at the English Bar. So too is the pro bono representation of indigent appellants in appeals before the Privy Council from Commonwealth countries.

Doughty Street members have played a leading role in those cases since the foundation of Chambers.

Most of the leading constitutional appeals in the Privy Council have been argued by teams of lawyers drawn from Doughty Street. Those cases have established the unconstitutionality of execution after long delay (Pratt and Morgan); vindicated the right of those on death row to natural justice and due process at the mercy stage, and the reviewability of the prerogative of mercy (Neville Lewis); struck down the mandatory death penalty throughout the greater part of the Caribbean in the successive cases of Hughes (St. Lucia), Reyes (Belize), Fox (Grenada), Bowe (Bahamas), as well as in many jurisdictions in Africa; and established a new and highly restrictive test for the imposition of the death penalty where it is discretionary in cases such as Reyes, Fox, the Cathedral Killers case in St. Lucia, and Trimmingham (from St. Vincent).

We have worked with African counsel in Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya to mount successful challenges to the mandatory death penalty there, and have brought a successful challenge in the UN Human Rights Committee to the mandatory death penalty in Ghana. We have acted for British citizens facing the death penalty in Ghana, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and we are working on death penalty constitutional challenges in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and the Supreme Court of Kenya.

With reference to Asia, mention should be made of the eventual victory in winning a reprieve for the 19 year old Malaysian, Yong Vui Kong, in Singapore, who had been sentenced to death for his part as a drug courier.

Our work abroad in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia has involved working with brilliant lawyers in those jurisdictions; as well as successful working partnerships we have formed lifelong friendships. As new members join, the Doughty Street team of death row lawyers and Privy Council experts constantly increases, as does the range of our work in this area.