Lord Pannick QC

Called to Bar:
Appointed to silk:
Practice areas:
MA (Oxon), BCL (Oxon)
French (fluent)

Lord Pannick QC's practice covers a broad range of areas including Public law, Constitutional law, Human Rights, Media & Entertainment, Employment & Discrimination, Sports law, EU & Competition, including the European Convention on Human Rights, Professional Discipline and Telecommunications.  Much of his work has a Public law & Human Rights dimension and a selection of some significant cases are given below, under this heading.

Chambers UK 2014

Lord Pannick QC is rated as a leading silk in eight practice areas and is recognised as one of its “stars at the bar.”

  • Star at the Bar – “achieves what we would all like to achieve,” … “the ability to be absolutely convincing, and to convince everybody that whatever he’s saying is right” … “the star of the show at whatever he is doing,” … “up there with the very best of them” … “big-picture view of how a court is likely to see matters” and “gives clear and commercial advice in conference.”
  • Administration & Public Law – ‘Star’ ranking ... “he achieves what we would all like to achieve: the ability to be absolutely convincing, and to convince everybody that whatever he's saying is right.”
  • Civil Liberties – another area where David received a ‘Star’ ranking – “The star of the show whatever he is doing” … “he is up there with the very best of them."
  • European Law – Top ranked. “One of the best when it comes to European regulatory questions” … “great with clients, he provides the big-picture view of how a court is likely to see matters” … “a go-to for top-level pieces of advocacy or for opinions on difficult matters.”
  • Immigration & Nationality – “He is an extraordinarily impressive advocate. When you have a case that requires you to pull out all the stops you simply have to select the best of the best, and he's just that.”
  • Media & Entertainment – “Universally acknowledged as one of the leading regulatory law barristers in the land, he has represented broadcasters, newspaper publishers and other media clients in high-profile cases.”
  • Professional Discipline – “He is an all-round star. He's a very busy man, but when he does professional discipline, he does it very well.”
  • Sport – Top ranked. “He is a superb advocate and a man with a first-class intellect. His clear and persuasive style is ideally suited to sports law tribunals.”
  • Telecommunications – Top ranked. “Continues to be leading counsel on the most difficult cases.” … “He gives clear and commercial advice in conference and is an excellent advocate in court.”

Legal 500 2013

Lord Pannick QC is ranked as a ‘Leading Silk’ in eight areas:

  • Administrative and Public law – “lives up to his considerable reputation” … “able to distil even the most complex case into three or four apparently simple issues”
  • Civil Liberties & Human Rights – “among the very best in his field”, and is recommended for his ability to “cut through all the complexities in a case, and put his finger straight on the point”
  • Commercial Litigation - recommended
  • Employment – recommended
  • EU & Competition – recommended
  • Immigration & Nationality – recommended
  • Media, Entertainment and Sport – “concise and decisive”
  • Professional Discipline and Regulatory law – recommended

Chambers UK Top Silk Bar 100

In December 2013, Lord Pannick QC was ranked as one of Chambers UK’s Top Silk Bar 100, in their inaugural listing of the top barristers practising at the Bar of England & Wales. “A brilliant and incisive lawyer.” “He has an unbelievable knack for digesting and analysing voluminous amounts of complex information in a very short space of time,” …. “the resulting advice is clear, concise, and often innovative.”

The Times Law 100 2012, listing the most influential lawyers in Britain, ranked Lord Pannick QC in 10th place.  “Described by one judge as ‘leader of the crossbenchers’ and as having ‘incredible influence’ in Parliament, it could almost be overlooked that Lord Pannick is one of the country’s most powerful advocates”.

In November 2008, he became a Life Peer, sitting on the crossbenches, while continuing in full-time practice at the Bar.

Professional Experience

Junior Counsel to the Crown (Common Law) 1988-1992

Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, since 1978

Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford since September 2004

Administrative Law Bar Association

Member of the Editorial Board of Public Law

Member of the Constitution Committee of the House of Lords 2009-2013

Public Law and Human Rights

Lord Pannick's recent cases include:

Current and recent work

  • Represented Dignity in Dying before the Supreme Court on the question of whether the law concerning assisted suicide complies with the Human Rights Act.
  • Represented police authorities in the Supreme Court on whether they owe a duty of care in negligence to prevent crime.
  • Represented an Iranian Opposition politician living in exile in Paris and British Parliamentarians in a Supreme Court case on whether it is a breach of free speech for her to be prevented from visiting this country to address the Parliamentarians because of the Home Secretary’s fear that this could have an adverse effect on Britain’s relationship with Iran.
  • Represented the Crown in the Supreme Court in establishing that MPs and a Peer being prosecuted for alleged dishonesty in the claiming of Parliamentary expenses were not entitled to Parliamentary privilege.
  • Represented Max Mosley in the European Court of Human Rights in a claim that the United Kingdom failed to protect his right to private life in that The News of the World had no duty to give him prior notification of an article before publication so he could seek and obtain an injunction.
  • Acted for Prudential in the Supreme Court in a claim that legal professional privilege extends to legal advice on tax law from accountants.
  • Representing Mikhail Khodorkovsky in his claims in the European Court of Human Rights that his treatment by the Russian Government, including his two criminal trials, has been in violation of his fundamental rights.
  • Appeared in the first hearing in the new Supreme Court in October 2009 on behalf of JFS, a school being sued by a boy seeking admission.
  • Acted for Debbie Purdy who established that the DPP has a duty to publish guidelines concerning his power to prosecute those who help relatives to go abroad for an assisted suicide. This was the last judgment in the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords in July 2009, before the opening of the new Supreme Court. 
  • Represented AF, a person subject to a control order because of alleged involvement in terrorist activities. Nine Law Lords held in June 2009 that he was entitled to know the essence of the allegations against him.
  • Acted for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in the European Court of Human Rights in establishing that it was not a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for the police to cordon off demonstrators in Oxford Circus for several hours during the May Day 2001 demonstrations.
  • Acted for Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay in establishing in the Court of Appeal that the Seneschal of Sark could not lawfully sit as a judge in Sark and also as the presiding office in the Sark legislature.
  • Represented the British Olympic Committee in resisting the lifelong ban on athletes competing at the Olympic Games by reason of an earlier doping offence.
  • Appeared for the pharmaceutical company, Eisai, in persuading the Court of Appeal that NICE acted in a procedurally unfair manner and so unlawfully in refusing to provide on the NHS drugs for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Lord Pannick appeared in 100 cases in the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (before it was replaced by the new Supreme Court), and has argued more than 25 cases in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and over 30 cases in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

He has acted in a large number of the leading public law cases of the last 25 years :

  • In Spycatcher, he acted for The Sunday Times
  • He represented Tiny Rowland and Lonrho plc in the battle with Mohammed Al-Fayed concerning the take-over of Harrods.
  • In ex parte Bentley, he persuaded the Divisional Court on behalf of Iris Bentley that the Home Secretary should give a posthumous pardon to her brother, Derek Bentley, for his execution in 1953.
  • He acted in the European Court of Human Rights for the gay servicemen who established that it was a breach of their human rights to exclude gays from the military : Lustig-Prean v United Kingdom.
  • He represented the Home Secretary in successfully establishing in the House of Lords the legality of the whole life tariff for Myra Hindley, the Moors Murderer.
  • He acted for the Home Secretary in the domestic courts and in the European Court of Human Rights in proceedings brought by Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the boys who murdered the infant James Bulger, challenging their sentences of detention during Her Majesty's pleasure.
  • He represented the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in the case brought by Diane Blood who wished to be impregnated with the sperm of her dead husband, and in the House of Lords case which established the right of parents to obtain fertility treatment to have a child so cells from the umbilical cord could assist their severely ill son ("the designer baby case").
  • He successfully represented the BBC in the Divisional Court in resisting the contention that the Director-General had committed the criminal offence of blasphemy by broadcasting "Jerry Springer - The Opera". (Following the judgment, Parliament decided to abolish the criminal offence of blasphemy).
  • He acted for Camelot in its successful judicial review challenge to the National Lottery Commission in 2000.

His clients have included:

  • The Queen - winning an injunction in the High Court to restrain The Daily Mirror from publishing further allegations about her home life by a reporter who had gained employment as a footman.
  • Greg Rusedski - at a tennis tribunal in Montreal, defeating allegations that he was guilty of a doping office.
  • Ann Marie Rogers - who established in the Court of Appeal her right to be provided with the breast cancer drug, Herceptin.
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - in establishing in the House of Lords that state immunity applies to claims alleging torture.
  • The League Against Cruel Sports - in successfully resisting the challenge to the Hunting Act 2004.
  • Sheptonhurst Ltd - who defeated the British Board of Film Classification in establishing the right to buy, in licensed sex shops, videos of "Nympho Nurse Nancy" and "Horny Catbabe", and so substantially liberalising the laws on censorship of explicit sexual material.

He has also appeared in court for a wide range of other clients, from the Revd Moon to the Chief Rabbi, from Red Hot Television to the Lord Chancellor, from Diana Princess of Wales to Lord Rees-Mogg.

In Strasbourg, he has appeared in cases (for and against the United Kingdom Government) raising issues on the rights of transsexuals, sadomasochists, gypsies and many others.  He acted for Greece in resisting the claim brought by former King Constantine for the return of property, and he represented Cyprus in relation to human rights abuses by Turkey in Northern Cyprus.

He has appeared in a large number of cases in the courts of Hong Kong, and in the courts of Brunei, the Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar. In Hong Kong, he has appeared in about 15 cases in the Court of Final Appeal (as well as frequent appearances in the lower courts), many of them on major constitutional and public law issues.

In November 2008, he became a Life Peer, sitting on the crossbenches, while continuing in full-time practice at the Bar.

He also writes a fortnightly column on the law for The Times.

Other relevant experience

Other Information:

VAT registration number:  245780151

Photo of Lord Pannick

the star of the show whatever he is doing 

Chambers UK 2014


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lives up to his considerable reputation … able to distil even the most complex case into three or four apparently simple issues 

Legal 500 2013