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Harriet Wakeman

Call: 2017
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Practice Summary

Harriet has experience across a broad range of practice areas, with particular expertise in public law, inquests, public inquiries and costs. She also accepts instructions in environmental and planning law. Harriet was appointed to the Attorney General’s Civil Panel of Counsel (C Panel) in 2021. In 2020, Harriet was nominated for Advocate’s Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year in recognition of her exceptional pro bono work.

Harriet is often instructed in high-profile and sensitive matters, as well as cases involving a national security element. Notable recent instructions include:

  • Junior Counsel for the Defendant (led by David Blundell QC and Julia Smyth) in the linked challenges to the Secretary of State’s policy of intercepting migrant boats;
  • Junior Counsel to the Inquests (led by Jonathan Hough QC) in the ‘Bugaled Breizh’ inquests, concerning the sinking of a French fishing trawler in 2004;
  • Junior Counsel to the Brook House Inquiry (led by Brian Altman QC);
  • Junior Counsel for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry (led by Jason Beer QC);
  • Junior Counsel for the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the Dawn Sturgess Inquiry (led by Cathy McGahey QC).

Prior to coming to the Bar, Harriet worked as the stagiaire to Judge Christopher Vajda at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Public Inquiries and Inquests

Harriet specialises in public inquiries and inquests. She is currently instructed as Junior Counsel for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry; Junior Counsel to the Brook House Inquiry; and Junior Counsel for the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the Dawn Sturgess Inquiry. She was Junior Counsel to the Inquests, led by Jonathan Hough QC, in the ‘Bugaled Breizh’ inquests (concerning the sinking of a French fishing trawler in 2004).

In addition, Harriet has been instructed in a number of inquests concerning deaths in prisons. This work has involved a consideration of issues such as the management of prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm, drug control measures, healthcare within prisons and internal prison communication systems.

Harriet also acts for bereaved families in inquests. She recently represented a family, as sole counsel, following a death in a care home where there were issues relating to medical treatment and alleged neglect by care home staff. Harriet also recently acted for a successful Claimant in a judicial review claim challenging the conclusion of an inquest.

Public Law

Harriet accepts instructions in all areas of public law. She is frequently instructed in judicial review claims, both led and unled. She was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel in 2021. Harriet developed her strong interest in public law whilst working as the stagiaire to Judge Christopher Vajda at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg before coming to the Bar.

Previous notable cases in which Harriet has been instructed in include:

  • R (Frasers Riverside Quarter Limited) v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; R (Lett Road Management Company Ltd) v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: Two judicial review claims challenging appeal decisions in respect of the funding of cladding remediation work under the Building Safety Fund.
  • R ((1) Public and Commercial Union (2) Care 4 Calais); R(Channel Rescue); R (Freedom from Torture) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department: three judicial review claims challenging the policy of intercepting migrant vessels in UK waters, stopping them and redirecting them to France.
  • R (Sri Lalithambika) Ltd v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 761: a judicial review claim regarding a decision to suspend a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence.
  • MR (Pakistan) & Anor v (1) Secretary of State for Justice (2) Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 3567: a judicial review claim challenging the absence of the equivalent of Rules 34 and 35 for immigration detainees in the prison estate.
  • NN and LP v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 1003: a judicial review claim challenging the support provided to victims of trafficking.

Costs

Harriet has a growing costs practice. She is adept at dealing with a wide range of costs issues including wasted, costs, qualified one-way costs shifting and costs budgeting.  Her articles on JLE (A Child) v Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [2019] EWHC 1582 (QB) and X v Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (Unreported, Sheffield County Court, 25/02/19) were published in the Personal Injury Law Journal.

Qualifications

  • University of Cambridge (Downing College): BA (Hons) Law: 1st Class
  • BPTC, BPP Law School: Outstanding

Awards

  • Buchanan Prize, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Eastham Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Sir Thomas More Prize, Lincoln’s inn
  • Advocacy Prize, BPP Law School
  • Excellence Award, BPP Law School
  • Hardwicke Entrance Award, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Wilsey and Lerch Prize, Downing College, University of Cambridge
  • Senior Harris Scholarship, Downing College, University of Cambridge

Professional Memberships

  • Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)

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