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Richard Clayton QC


Date of Call: 1977

Year of Silk: 2002



4-5 Gray's Inn Square                                    

Grays’ Inn                                                             

London WC1R 5AH                                    


Practise Areas of Work

  • Public Law

  • Local Government

  • Commercial

  • International



    Deputy High Court Judge since 2011

    United Kingdom’s representative to Venice Commission (Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional law, the Commission of Democracy through Law).  Appointed 2010 and recently reappointed to 2018.

    Member, Enlarged Bureau (Commission’s executive board)

    Chairman Sub Commission on Working Methods

    Gender Equality Rapporteur

    Scientific Council

    Rapporteur in Opinions concerning conscription and freedom of thought (Armenia), freedom of assembly (Russia) (twice), freedom of expression and defamation (Azerbaijan) (Italy) and judicial independence and mediation (Tajikistan), appointment of Constitutional Court judges (Slovakia) (twice), freedom of association and NGOs ((Azerbaijan); freedom of expression (Turkey).

    Amicus curia brief on war crimes for the Chilean Constitutional Court. 


    Election Judge since 2016

    Recorder (Crown Court)  since 2006

    Bencher, Middle Temple since 2011-

    Lecturer on Human Rights Act (2011) and Four Jurisdictions Conference (2012);

    Bench Selection Advisory Committee (2014-2018)

    Visiting Professor, University College, London 2015-2020

    Associate Fellow, Centre for Public Law, University of Cambridge since 2001


    Committee, Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers 2014-15

    Chairman, Constitutional and Administrative Bar Association 2008-2010

    Supreme Court User Group since 2009

    Justice Council 2009-2013

    Chairman, Bar Council Committee on Civil Legal Aid 2005-2012

    Vice Chairman Bar Council Remuneration Committee 2006-2008

    Bar Council Remuneration Committee 2005 to 2010

    Bar Council Public Affairs Committee 2006-2007

    Bar Council International Affairs Committee 2008-2010

    Bar Council 2004-2007


    Recent cases of note include:

    R(Derbyshire County Council v Sheffield Combined Authority (2016) (consultation challenge to devolution scheme)

    R(Watch Tower) v Charity Commission (2016) (Court of Appeal) whether statutory appeal alternative to judicial review- CA pending)

    R(English Bridge Union) v Sports England (2015) (whether Sports England acted unlawfully in refusing to recognise bridge as a sport)

    R(Hall) v Leicestershire County Council (2015) (museum closure concerning consultation and alleged breach of Localism Act)

    Minshall v HMRC (2015) (CA) (human rights)

    Magyar Helsinki v Hungary (2016) (Art 10 and right of access to official information before Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Rights which overrules Kennedy)

    Kennedy v Charity Commissioners (2014) (Supreme Ct- Freedom of Information, Art 10 and common law rights)

    R v Misick (2014) (8 day hearing before Turks and Caicos Court of Appeal in constitutional challenge to judicial independence- leave to appeal granted to Privy Council)

    R(T) v Trafford MBC (2015) (consultation challenge to local authority cuts)

    R(Hardy) v Sandwell MBC (2015) (whether policy discretionary housing allowance breaches Art 14)

    R(Wood) v Leeds City Council ((2014) successful challenge to increase in allotment rents by Leeds Allotment Society)

    Kingston LBC v Emergency Aid (2014) (liability of charities for rates)

    R(Bridgerow) v Chester West (2014) (sex entertainment licence)

    Application by Brang Shawng to United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (2014) (Burma)


    Supreme Court/House of Lords/Privy Council cases

    Kennedy v Charity Commissioners (2014) (Freedom of Information, Art 10 and common law rights)

    Surratt v A-G of Trinidad (No 2) (2009) (damages for breaching constitutional right to protection of the law) 

    Panday v Virgil (2008) (representing former Prime Minister of Trinidad in abuse of process complaint following successful bias appeal before Trinidad Court of Appeal);

    Suratt v A-G of Trinidad (2008) (anti-discrimination legislation constitutional, reversing Trinidad CA)

    R(Huang) v SSHD (2007) (important case on proportionality principles)

    Toussaint v A-G of St Vincent (2007) (right of access to the court and parliamentary privilege)

    R (Greenfield) v SSHD  (2005) (Human Rights Act damages)

    R (Smith) v Parole Board (2005) (common law fairness- but not Articles 5 and 6 ECHR- requires oral hearing)

    BACONGO v Department of Environment No 2 (2004) (adequacy of environmental impact assessment)

    BACONGO v Department of Environment (2003) (jurisdiction of PC to grant interim injunction in pending appeal)

    A-G v Blake (2001) (confiscation of advance of royalties on autobiography breaches common law human rights, not recoverable as restitutionary damages in contract, but liable for account)

    R v Chief Constable West Midlands ex p Wiley (1994) (nature and scope of public interest immunity)


    Cases before the European Court of Human Rights include:

    Magyar Helsinki v Hungary (2015) (Art 10 and right of access to official information before Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Rights)

    S v United Kingdom ([2009)(Grand Chamber- retention of DNA for individuals arrested but not charged breached Article 8, reversing House of Lords decision in Marper, 2004);

    Liberty v United Kingdom (2009) (statutory scheme authorising telephone interception to and from UK breached Article 8) 



    Public and Administrative Law: Notable for his expertise in public law matters involving an overlap with human rights. He is also recognised for his vast knowledge of constitutional law. "He is very academic but also very sharp when it comes to tactics. He is very good at guiding you on what the judge is likely to be thinking." "Outstandingly clever." (2017) “He is affable and has a mature approach” “Calm, reliable and consistent” “He has a very wide knowledge of the law” A well-respected public lawyer, who is a very vigorous and forceful opponent.” (2014), “Very likeable and imaginative” He is particularly recommended for thinking laterally on cases: “He’s the sort of guy you'd ring up to find a new point in a case” (2008);

    Civil Liberties/human rights: Routinely instructed in major constitutional and human rights matters which see him making regular appearances in the Privy Council and Supreme Court. He has co-authored an essential textbook on human rights and serves as the UK representative to the Venice Commission.  “His command of the subject is almost second to none. He's thoughtful, approachable, and very client-focused." “ (2017) He is extremely knowledgeable and a leading light in the field.”(2015) “His work on human rights is always outstanding.  He's very proactive. He'll think around his cases and come up with creative ideas" (2014)) incredibly bright" and has "fantastic academic ability." Clients highlight the confidence they have when instructing him. He undertakes a balance of work for both claimants and defendants, and has appeared in the Caribbean, Hong Kong and the Privy Council, as well as in numerous matters in the domestic court (2012); "Fantastically good at what he does”, he “provides robust, client-friendly advice and is a great lateral thinker” (2009) “he is always well prepared and is not fazed by difficult clients or the prospect of being the first to argue a difficult line." (2013); "clients praise his fine preparatory work and his approachable manner"

    Local Government: Particularly instructed for vires and procurement law matters- a "delightful and talented advocate." (2013)   He has a huge fan base of local authorities happy to sing his praises. “He is extremely bright and very creative in finding workable solutions to tricky problems” (2008) and "a thriving local government practise" (2010); "razor-sharp mind" and an "extremely accessible manner, he is never short of work.” (2011)



    Joint author with Hugh Tomlinson QC:

    The Law of Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 3rd edn, forthcoming)- the standard practitioner textbook cited in House of Lords, Privy Council  and Supreme Court over 40 times

    Civil Actions against the Police (4th edn, Sweet & Maxwell forthcoming)

    The Law of the European Convention on Human Rights: A Practitioner Text (with Sir Nicholas Brazta, former President of the European Court of Human Rights (OUP, forthcoming)

    Judicial Review Procedure (2nd edn, Hart Publishing 1997)

    Police Actions (2nd edn, Hart Publishing 1997)

    Author Practice and Procedure at Industrial Tribunals (Legal Action, 1988)



     “The Belmarsh case” in Landmark Cases in Public Law ed M Sunkin and S Juss (Hart Publishing, 2016)

    ”Should the English Courts under the Human Rights Act mirror the Strasbourg case law” in ed K Ziegler and L Wicks  The UK and European Human Rights: a strained relationship?” (Hart Publishing, 2015)

    With Hugh Tomlinson

    “The Human Rights Act and its Impact on Tort” in Tort and the Legislature ed J Avind and H Steel (Hart Publishing, 2013)

    “Lord Bingham and the Human Rights Act: the Search for Legitimacy in the War on Terror” in  Tom Bingham and the Transformation of the Law: A Liber Amicorum ed M Adenas and D Fairgrieve (OUP, 2009)

    Regular contributor to academic journals eg Public Law, European Human Rights Review, Cambridge Law Journal etc.  Lord Bingham cited my article on Judicial Deference in Belmarsh case (2005) and Lord Hope cited my article on proportionalty in Shayler (2003) and AS Somalia (2008)

    Recent articles include:

    “The Empire strikes back: common law rights and the Human Rights Act” [2015] Public Law 6

    “The Emergence of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law’ (with Cian Murphy) European Human Rights Report and Review [2014] 468

    “Smoke and Mirrors: The Human Rights Act and the impact of Strasbourg case law” [2012] Public Law 639


    LECTURER Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Warwick, British Institute of Comparative Law and abroad eg Venice Commission seminar on “Definition and development of human rights and popular sovereignty in Europe Goethe University, Frankfurt; Council of Europe, Turkey; Hong Kong Chinese University; University of West Indies, Trinidad; Georgetown University, Washington DC; University of Toronto; York, Toronto, Canada, Northern Ireland Colloquium on European Charter on Fundamental Rights (2013)

    Regularly lectures and chairs conferences on judicial review, human rights, local government eg Association of Local Government Solicitors and Secretaries, JUSTICE, the Human Rights Law Association, Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association, Regulatory and Disciplinary  Law Association, Solicitors in Local Government weekend school and LGG seminars; CLT, Public Law Project, UKELA.


    BAR ASSOCIATIONS Member of Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association, Planning and Environmental Bar Association, Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers Association

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