Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Administrative & public law

Fountain Court Chambers’ administrative and public law practice represents an active and growing area of work for the set’s silks and junior barristers.

Members have been active in applying administrative and public law principles in both a regulatory and commercial context, before all manner of tribunals, and the Administrative Court, regionally as well as nationally, as well as in appellate proceedings up to Supreme Court level.

Test case litigation

In terms of regulatory work, members of chambers have considerable expertise on the public law duties of regulatory authorities and in judicial reviews of disciplinary proceedings.

The sensitivity of such issues can be seen in the set’s instruction as an interested party in the highly publicised ‘right-to-die’ case of Tony Nicklinson, R (on the application of AM) v DPP [2012] H.R.L.R. 32 (Admin). This was signature litigation involving difficult ethical, regulatory, and criminal law issues, one of the most publicly prominent of the cases in which the set was involved in recent years.

Members of the set also acted for a variety of parties in the Prudential case, on legal professional privilege, before a seven-judge Supreme Court, over the extension of common law legal advice privilege to tax advice given by accountants, with members representing the ICAEW, HMRC, and the Bar Council amongst the parties concerned.

A number of members of chambers acted in the 2014 test case of Lumsdon and others v Legal Services Board, with Bar Standards Board, SRA, Ilex and the Law Society as interested parties (the so-called ‘QASA’ judicial review) in which the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir Brian Leveson, which upheld the validity of a regulatory scheme to measure the competency of criminal advocates, as both “proportionate and lawful.”

The case shows the set’s ability to deal with the full range of EU, EHCR and Human Rights Act arguments deployed in such cases, including rights under Article 6 and Article 1 of the First Protocol of the ECHR, constitutional principles of judicial and advocates’ independence, and the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, amongst others.

Advisory work

They also advise on the public law aspects of the functioning of regulatory compensation schemes assisting clients arranging from government, relevant regulated individuals, professions and industries, the regulators of the schemes themselves, private clients and businesses, as well as public bodies like universities, schools and colleges.

Our work spans the design of decision making and review procedures to ensure that any decisions taken by our clients are compliant with the requirements of procedural fairness under general public law and the Human Rights Act 1998.

We are expert in advising on public law aspects of such bodies, in reaching first instance decisions, internal appellate procedures, procedural fairness, the formulation of policies (and departures from them), the vires (or public powers) of the regulatory bodies.

Members have acted for the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board, the General Medical Council, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the Association of British Insurers, and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, to name but six institutional clients.

No less than seven of Fountain Court’s junior barristers are currently on the Attorney-General’s lists, acting frequently for central government departments in a wide variety of disputes, as well for non-government clients. The diversity of clients to which our lawyers are exposed to in their work demonstrates broad practices in addition to their excellent government work at central or local government level.

We often receive repeat instructions for our work; 2012 saw us act in the appeal on Simmons v Castle on the judicial implementation of changes to the award of damages in civil litigation cases, whilst 2013 saw the set engaged in the case of R (on the Application of APIL) v Secretary of State for Justice [2013] EWHC 1358 (Admin), a very important commercial judicial review paving the way for reforms to remove £1 million per day of legal costs out of the motor insurance system.

The set has a particular specialisation in commercial public law proceedings, given previous work in a judicial review of the handling of complaints relating to Payment Protection Insurance (“PPI”).  The case, R (on the Application of The British Bankers Association) v FSA & Financial Ombudsman Service [2011] EWHC 999 (Admin) saw members of the set act in both bringing and resisting a judicial review of an industry wide compensation regime concerning PPI.

Members have also acted in cases involving fundamental commercial decisions at their heart, for example, public/private sector partnerships, such as PPP and PFI work, or challenges to government decisions on outsourcing, major public sector procurement issues, where we advise on public law, commercial law and EU law requirements and risks.

Quotes from directories

  •  ‘a tour de force of brain power and commerciality’.

    Legal 500 2016