Katherine Olley

Call: 1999
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Practice Summary

Kate is an established and highly experienced practitioner dealing with most of the areas of work for which Chambers is recognised. She is valued for her judgment, good legal sense, the clarity of her advocacy and written advice, and for her approachability and excellent client care. She appears regularly in the higher courts and the various specialist tribunals relevant to her areas of practice.

Kate’s practice is now international. In February 2015 she was called to the Hong Kong Bar. She is one of an extremely small group of barristers who are dual-qualified in both England & Wales and Hong Kong and hence able to accept instructions in Hong Kong cases without the need to seek ad hoc admission from the HKBA.

Kate can also accept instructions under the Bar Council’s Public Access scheme.

Kate has been a CEDR-accredited mediator since 2005.

Kate conducted many training sessions on the European Convention on Human Rights for local lawyers, judges and NGO representatives in various countries including Albania, Turkey, Ukraine, Kosovo, the Caucasus and the Russian Federation, invited by the Council of Europe’s Directorate General of Human Rights.

In 2002 Kate was the Pegasus Scholar to Hong Kong where she worked as a judicial assistant to Frank Stock VP (as he then was) in the Court of Appeal.

In 2001 Kate was Chair of the Free Representation Unit, for whom she undertook many cases in the fields of employment law (discrimination and unfair dismissal) and social security law. She represented FRU on the then Attorney-General’s Pro Bono Co-ordinating Committee.

View Katherine’s profile on our International site

Planning and Environment

Kate has appeared at many planning inquiries on behalf of developers, local authorities and third parties and also has extensive experience of high court work in the planning & environmental context dating back to the very beginning of her practice. She has regularly advised the Environment Agency and also Defra and she co-writes the judicial review chapter of Garner’s Environmental Law.

She was junior counsel for the Claimant (led by Robert McCracken QC) in the case of Pascoe v Secretary of State and she appeared for the Secretary of State in many statutory appeals for example River Club v SSCLG.Recent work includes bringing a successful judicial review on behalf of individuals who sought to challenge a grant of outline planning permission, which achieved the result of the local planning authority agreeing to revoke the planning permission before the challenge was considered by the court on the papers. She has advised in relation to basement development applications in Kensington & Chelsea and matters raising issues of daylight and overshadowing.

In July 2015 she represented most of the Rule 6 parties at the Swiss Cottage tall building Inquiry (the 100 Avenue Road site).

She has advised in relation to Neighbourhood Development Plans and recently conducted a mediation between a local authority and a would-be Neighbourhood Forum.

Kate recently appeared with John Litton QC in Hong Kong in a judicial review of a decision of the Town Planning Board in relation to an Outline Zoning Plan on Hong Kong island, instructed by the Hong Kong Government.

She is currently instructed by Designing Hong Kong Ltd, a Hong Kong planning & environmental NGO, in a judicial review in which the applicant has applied for a Protective Costs Order. The appeal in that matter will be heard in the Court of Appeal in late November 2016 and will make the law as to PCOs in Hong Kong.


Kate has experience in all areas of property-related work including easements, restrictive covenants, general landlord & tenant (residential and commercial) and adverse possession (in which she has a special interest). She also has experience in service charge disputes and nuisance claims. She has recently acted for the landlord in a successfully compromised ground (f) renewal case. She is regularly instructed to advise on the construction of various lease clauses.

She has regularly advised in cases where expertise in the areas of crossover between property law and planning/public law is important, or where knowledge of all these areas is required.

She is currently instructed (with another member of Chambers) in relation to an issue of potential airport expansion, advising on both property and public law issues.


Kate is a judicial review specialist, with extensive experience covering the fields of mental health, prisons, education (including special educational needs), asylum & immigration (including cases involving national security), social security, community care, prisons, planning, environmental and general local government including the political balance of committees and issues of local government finance.

Before deciding to expand her international practice she served ten years on the Attorney-General’s Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown, acting for a wide range of Central Government departments and agencies (including the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Environment Agency, Defra, Department of Transport, HM Treasury, Department of Education and the Ministry of Justice).

Before temporarily relocating to Hong Kong in Autumn 2014, Kate was heavily involved in the challenge brought by Bank Mellat against the 2011 and 2012 Financial Restrictions Orders imposed by HM Treasury restricting all Iranian financial institutions from accessing financial markets in the UK and also the US$4bn damages claim brought as a result of the Supreme Court decision in relation to the 2009 Financial Restriction Order affecting Bank Mellat.

Kate also regularly acts for individual claimants, instructed by amongst others Public Interest Lawyers, Public Law Solicitors, the Public Law Project, Birnberg Peirce, Leigh Day and Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd. She represents appellants in the Immigration & Asylum Chamber and Upper Tribunal, with a particular expertise in Sri Lankan cases. She also has very extensive experience in unlawful detention claims.

Kate has substantial experience in safeguarding matters and has an intimate knowledge of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (and its predecessor legislation namely the PoVA, PoCA and List 99 schemes). She has appeared many times in the Upper and First-tier Tribunals dealing with these issues and conducting appeals brought against placement on the Children’s and/or Adults’ Barred Lists.

In October 2015 Kate successfully appeared as sole Counsel in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Ministry of Justice in X v MoJ, in which the Court considered the extent of the entitlement to anonymity in mental health cases brought in the Administrative Court rather than the Mental Health Tribunal.

Freedom of Information/Data Protection

Kate is very familiar with information law and acted for the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Cabinet Office in DECC v Information Commissioner, calling the former Head of the Home Civil Service as a witness.

She was also junior counsel for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (led by Daniel Alexander QC), seeking to uphold the earlier decision of the Information Tribunal in the Court of Appeal.

She has recently advised on the issue of CCTV camera surveillance in the context of the data protection principles.


Kate is a member of Parkside Chambers in Hong Kong where she is developing a wide-ranging civil practice. She co-updated the new edition of ‘Judicial Review in Hong Kong’ (Richard Gordon QC and Johnny Mok SC), Lexis Nexis June 2014. As part of the process of admission to the Hong Kong Bar, Kate studied many areas of Hong Kong law (including property, equity and trusts, constitutional and administrative and company law) and is well placed to advise on the interface between UK and Hong Kong law. She can accept instructions from both UK-based and HK-based clients. She speaks Mandarin and basic Cantonese.


Kate has been a CEDR-accredited mediator since 2005 and was a delegate to the South Asia Regional ADR conference in March 2004. In 2006 she organised mediation training in Pakistan including for an NGO (the Aurat Foundation) based in Peshawar in North-West Frontier Province. Her experience of mediation has largely focused on property-related matters but she does not limit her interest to the resolution of cases in any particular area of law. Indeed her expertise in the area of public and administrative law gives her special insight into the context underlying matters in that area. She recently mediated a dispute between a local authority and a neighbourhood development forum.


Kate graduated with First Class Honours from St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University (Chinese Studies).

She completed her CPE/Diploma in Law at City University and was called to the Bar (England & Wales) by Middle Temple in 1999.

In 2014 she passed the Hong Kong Bar Examinations for Overseas Practitioners and in 2015 she was called to the Hong Kong Bar. She is a member of Parkside Chambers in Hong Kong.

In 2005 she became a CEDR-accredited mediator.


Kate has been recognised in the Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 directories since 2005 as a leading junior in the fields of administrative and public law, local government and education:

“she can win very difficult and complex cases with her brilliant advocacy”

“a persuasive advocate whose skeleton arguments and written advice are of a very high standard” 

“has excellent communication skills and deals with very difficult clients with ease”

“highly impressive” 

“a rising star” 

“gives clear and precise advice” 

“is admired for the breadth of her practice” 

“popular among sources for being unflappable: ‘She is not fazed by someone throwing a spanner in the works halfway through a case and can immediately see a simple solution to any obstructions in the road- she has total mastery of her brief’.”


Swiss Cottage tall building Inquiry


Kate Olley represented most of the Rule 6 parties at the Swiss Cottage tall building Inquiry (the 100 Avenue Road site).



Swiss Cottage tall building Inquiry


Kate Olley represented most of the Rule 6 parties at the Swiss Cottage tall building Inquiry (the 100 Avenue Road site).

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