Richard Drabble KC received 'Lifetime Achievement award' at Chambers UK Bar Awards

Chambers UK Bar awards RDKC

Richard Drabble KC, one of Chambers’ longest-serving barristers, has received the ‘Lifetime Achievement award’ at Chambers UK Bar Awards which took place yesterday evening. Richard Drabble KC is one of a small handful of practising public lawyers who may justifiably claim to have laid the foundations for modern constitutional and administrative law. It is of course a claim that Richard himself would not dream of making; but it is nevertheless true. By his own account, he appeared as a (very) junior barrister with the late Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC in CCSU v Minister of the Civil Service [1984] – arguably the single most influential decision in public law of the past forty years; and an early highlight in a career of distinguished advocacy in a sustained sequence of seminal cases across a wide spectrum of public law practice, including leading cases in immigration, civil liberties and human rights, planning, environmental and rating law. His involvement in the seminal public law cases of the day has continued unabated. Highlights after the CCSU case would include R (Cart) v Upper Tribunal [2011], about the reviewability of decisions of the Upper Tribunal, Beoku-Betts v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008], on the Article 8 rights of family members in immigration cases, R (Lewis) v. Redcar and Cleveland BC [2008] on bias and predetermination in local authority decision-making, and the important social security cases of Kehoe [2005] and Hinchy [2005]. More recently, he has been involved in the significant re-appraisal of public law by the current Supreme Court in R (SC) v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2021] and had a memorable victory in the bedroom tax case of R (Carmichael) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016]. His influence has extended far outside the United Kingdom: in Jones v. AG of Trinidad and Tobago [2018] he persuaded the Trinidad and Tobago High Court that laws banning homosexual activity were unconstitutional. In the earlier stages of his career his advocacy was not limited to the higher courts, and included planning inquiry work such as his success in opposing the proposals for a nuclear waste repository in Cumbria. Richard’s particular and unrivalled contribution to the development of modern public law is in the field of social security. His deep professional commitment and formidable contribution to that field of law and practice had its origin in his time early on in his career working at the Child Poverty Action Group. Richard’s name will be found in the reports of almost all of the important social security law cases decided in the appellate courts in London, in the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights over the course of the past four decades.  Foremost amongst those cases in the Strasbourg Court are Stec v UK on retirement and sex discrimination, Tsfayo v UK on administrative decision-making and appeal rights and Chapman v UK on gypsies, Article 8 and discrimination. In Luxembourg, he has been involved in a range of important cases from Tele2 Sverige and Watson [2016] on electronic communications to CG [2021] on post-Brexit access to social welfare benefits for those with pre-settled status, via a raft of leading decisions on workers’ rights and citizenship. Richard has long been recognised by the judiciary and by his professional colleagues and peers as an advocate of the highest authority and distinction. His powers remain as formidable as ever – only this year he led the successful legal challenge to the decision to grant planning permission for the proposed development of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster. Richard was a founding member of Landmark Chambers in 2002, having joined Lord Rippon QC’s chambers initially at 2 Paper Buildings, Temple and later at 4 Breams Buildings. He was Joint Head of Chambers between 2015 and 2017. He has served as chair of the Administrative Law Bar Association and as a member of the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee.

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