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David Lock QC

Call: 1985Silk: 2011
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Practice Summary

David Lock was called to the Bar in 1985 and made a QC in 2011.   He is a public law specialist and was judged by a panel of leading lawyers to be the Legal 500 Public Law QC of the Year for 2020.  He sits as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench and Family Divisions.

David has appeared in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal on many occasions, the High Court, the County Court, the Court of Protection, has drafted Parliamentary Bills and has advised individuals, companies and government bodies in a variety of international jurisdictions. He has vast trial experience, including cross-examining expert and lay witnesses, but also has a wide-ranging public law and appellate practice.

He is exceptionally knowledgeable and gains the confidence of vulnerable clients.’ Legal 500 2018

“Absolutely outstanding. He has all the attributes of a great silk. His knowledge of the case is second to none, and his knowledge of the law is absolutely superb. His judgement is impeccable.” Chambers & Partners 2015

David took silk in 2011 and since then has appeared in a series of high profile administrative and public law cases, acting for public bodies and against them.  David is joint editor (with Hannah Gibbs) of the leading practitioner’s book, “NHS Law and Practice” and his technical expertise as a public lawyer has been recognised by his appointment as one of the joint editors (along with David Blundell) of the leading journal “Judicial Review”.

David has a particular expertise in public sector pension schemes, particularly in cases involving medical retirement or pension rights associated with injuries suffered by public servants in the course of their work. He is the author of the Landmark Guide to the Law on Police Pensions.

He was on the panel of Treasury counsel before taking silk.  David has also appeared in leading cases concerning local government, immigration, police, prisoners’ rights and procurement law.  David was appointed as a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘A’ panel in May 2019. This panel of counsel plays an important role in helping the Commission to achieve its objectives which include reducing inequality, eliminating discrimination and protecting human rights.

Outside work

David takes time away from practice annually to complete another leg of a charity cycle ride from England to Australia – in segments over a number of years: see www.decade2australia.org for details. So far he and his wife have covered about 15,000km and got as far as Southern Thailand earlier this year but then had to return quickly due to Covid19!

Healthcare and the Law of the NHS

Healthcare and the Law of the NHS

David has a nationally reputation as a leading lawyer concerning the law of the NHS.

“When it comes to healthcare, he’s unrivalled – his knowledge is encyclopaedic. He’s a first choice for complex medical law questions.” Chambers and Partners 2018

His practice includes all areas of work within Healthcare Law including:-

  • Consent to treatment and patient applications
  • Vires and legality of actions of NHS bodies
  • NHS Continuing care
  • List management and regulatory law for the NHS
  • GP, dental and pharmacy contracts
  • EU law affecting the NHS
  • Procurement and contracting issues

David has appeared in leading cases involving the NHS in recent years including Richards v Worcestershire County Council & Anor [2017] EWCA Civ 1998 (restitution for alleged breach of mental health duties) National Health Service Commissioning Board v Silovsky & Anor [2017] EWCA Civ 1389 (premises payments for GP practices), R (Wolverhampton Council) v South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Shropshire (CCG) [2018] EWHC 1136 (Admin) (allocation of funding responsibilities and responsible commissioner) and R (Shepherd n Behalf of 999 Call NHS) v National Health Service Commissioning Board [2018] EWHC 1067 (Admin).

He also appeared in Keep Wythenshawe Special Ltd v NHS Central Manchester CCG & Ors [2016] EWHC 17 (Admin) (challenge concerning the reconfiguration of NHS service Manchester) and Re N [2015] EWCOP 76 (case concerning the continuation of artificial nutrition and hydration for a multiple sclerosis patient).

He regularly advises a large number of NHS bodies on public law issues. However he also advises and acts for patients who are challenging decisions of the NHS and for doctors who are subject to regulatory action by NHS bodies including the recent case of R (Richmond Pharmacology Ltd) v The Health Research Authority [2015] EWHC 2238 (Admin).

David edits the Guide to the Law of the NHS on the Landmark website.

David has in the past chaired the Steering Groups for Public Law at Landmark Chambers.

Police law

David is a recognised specialist in public law relating to the police. He has acted in many judicial reviews concerning the law relating to police officers and has a particular expertise in police pensions (see for example R (Evans) v Cheshire Constabulary [2018] EWHC 952 (Admin)R (Boskovic) v Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police [2018] EWHC 14 (Admin)[permission has been granted for this case to the Court of Appeal] and Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v The Police Medical Appeal Board [2013] EWHC 1203 (Admin)).  He has represented Chief Constables, senior police officers, constables and former police officers in a wide variety of cases.  David acted for the successful former police officer in the case of AB v A Chief Constable (June 2014) which established that Chief Constables are bound by promises made by other officers.

Local Authorities

David is regularly instructed on a wide range of local government issues and has reported cases acting for and against local authorities in the High Court and Court of Appeal, including the recent case of R (CP) v North East Lincolnshire Council [2018] EWHC 220 (Admin).  His expertise includes procurement, election law, social care responsibilities, governance and public sector finance.  He acted for Cornwall Council in the PH case, which is a leading case about ordinary residence of service users without capacity (which was heard in the Supreme Court in March 2015) and Walsall Council in the ZYN case about charges for services users who have personal injury awards.

Court of Protection

David has acted in a series of complex cases in the Court of Protection. He appeared in the widely reported case of Wye Valley NHS Trust v B  [2015] EWCOP 60 about the right of a patient lacking capacity to refuse life-saving medical treatment and in leading case of Re RK in the Court of Appeal concerning the law relating to the deprivation of liberty of children in local authority care. He also appeared in Re SK which is the leading case on parallel CoP and QB proceedings.

Public Sector Pensions

David is a recognised national authority on public sector pensions, particularly police pensions where he has a series of reported cases involving the proper interpretation of the police pension scheme.

Information Governance

David took the Freedom of Information Bill through the Commons as a Junior Minister and was on the Bill Committee for the Data Protection Act. He is regularly instructed on information governance matters, particularly for NHS bodies and local government and has reported cases involving information governance and appeared in the recent AB case out the fairness of processing of personal data.

Human Rights and EU Law

Many of the cases David is instructed on have a human rights or EU law element. He has advised and acted on EU and HR cases up to the Supreme Court, such as the case of MM concerning the rights of restricted mental health patients where judgment is awaited.   He was also counsel in R (KG) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 1767 (Admin) concerning the rights of immigration detainees to medical treatment.

David has advised or appeared in cases on issues as wide as whether development schemes constitute state aid through to whether it is a breach of the HR rights to prevent detained mental health patients from smoking (see here).


“He has exceptional analytical skills and is devastating in both written and oral argument.” Administrative & Public Law, Chambers & Partners, 2022

“David is my first port of call for judicial review challenges.” “David is really helpful and practical, explaining everything in really simple steps.” Community Care, Chambers & Partners, 2022

“David is one of the true specialists in NHS public law who has an unrivalled knowledge in this area. He is reserved for those truly challenging cases. He is very easy to work with and clients like and appreciate his wider knowledge of the NHS that he brings to bear on cases” Administrative & Public Law, Legal 500, 2022

“A very strong advocate with a detailed and strong knowledge of the law in this area.” Court of Protection: Health & Welfare, Chambers & Partners, 2021

“Very pleasant, so user-friendly, and has an ability to come to really good solutions. His knowledge of NHS law is really second to none.” Administrative & Public Law, Chambers & Partners, 2021

“Very energetic and persuasive in court.” Community Care, Chambers & Partners, 2021

“One of a handful of true NHS experts. Powerhouse in this area. True public law specialist. Real problem solver.”  Administrative & Public Law, Legal 500, 2021

“Has the ability to disseminate complex legislation, case law and legal concepts into simple, understandable and manageable advice.” Court of Protection & Community Care, Legal 500, 2021

“I have absolute trust in David’s ability to quickly assess a problem, and more often than not he comes up with a solution which nobody else has thought of.” “He’s very imaginative and is a good lateral thinker; he’s genuinely inspiring.” “An amazing barrister whose technical knowledge of the complexities of election law, pension law and the NHS is second to none.” Public & Administrative Law, Chambers & Partners, 2020

“He’s cerebral, academic and knowledgeable.” “He has an absolutely brilliant mind and is very approachable and easy to work with.” Community Care, Chambers & Partners, 2020

“He is exceptionally knowledgeable about NHS regulation and patient rights.”  Legal 500 2018

“Brings his deep expertise in healthcare to his public and administrative law practice. He is frequently involved in appeals concerning serious medical treatment. He is also experienced in judicial reviews relating to local government and police law.”  Chambers & Partners 2018

“A noted expert on all law relating to the NHS, he has been involved in many of the leading cases in this area. Lock has specialist health, local authority governance and judicial review expertise.  … He is a very inventive and imaginative thinker.”  Chambers & Partners 2018

“He knows what clients want and need, is very practical and has a huge brain.” “He is so incisive and gets the idea that you’re working as part of a team.” Chambers & Partners 2015

“Able to reduce complex and esoteric legal quandaries into simple propositions.” Legal 500 2015

“Highly respected for his broad public law expertise, David Lock QC receives particular plaudits for his expertise in matters at the intersection of public law and healthcare law. A very good advocate. He has served in local government and is very highly respected in the legal profession at a local and national level.” Chambers & Partners 2014


David has had an interesting and diverse career. After spending 10 years at the Bar in Birmingham he was elected as a Member of Parliament and was appointed to be a Minister at the Lord Chancellor’s Department from 1999 to 2001. He has also served as a local councillor and chaired substantial Non-Departmental Public Bodies. He has also worked within a major law firm, Mills & Reeve, leading the healthcare practice and seeing life from the other side of the solicitor/barrister divide.

David is a member of the BMA Ethics Committee, was chair of Innovation Birmingham Limited (the company which runs the Birmingham Science Park).  He has also served as a non-Executive director of a major NHS Foundation Trust.

David was selected by the Birmingham Law Society to be their ‘Barrister of the Year’ in 2011.

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