Paul Bowen QC practises across the spectrum of public and administrative law, often with significant human rights, EU or other international law elements. Paul is ranked in the directories as a leading silk in Public and Administrative Law; Civil Liberties and Human Rights; and Offshore, among others. He acts domestically and internationally including in the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Jersey, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He has appeared in the European Court of Human Rights and on over twenty occasions in the Supreme Court/ House of Lords and Privy Council. Paul is on the ‘A’ Panel of Counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Paul is a judicial review expert and is recommended as a leading silk in Chambers & Partners (Band 3) and the Legal 500 (Band 2) in Public and Administrative law. Paul advises and represents individuals, corporations, public authorities and NGOs both as claimant and defendant and in a number of different jurisdictions (see Offshore section). He practises across a range of areas from civil liberties/ human rights (see separate section Civil Liberties/ Human Rights) to financial and commercial cases (Chambers 2018: he ‘increasingly handles public law claims in the commercial and financial services spheres’) including money laundering regulation, oil and gas, telecoms, tax, regulatory, licensing, data protection, discrimination, EU law, freedom of information, healthcare and public procurement.
Paul Bowen QC has been featured as a leader in civil liberties and human rights in both Legal 500 (Band 3) and Chambers and Partners (Band 2) for many years. Legal500 2020 calls him ‘A brilliant mind who has a subtle and tactful manner in tackling sensitive issues’ and ‘The go-to silk for cases involving challenging applications of human rights principles’. His cases cover a broad range encompassing criminal investigations and prosecutions; equality and discrimination; mental health and mental capacity cases; community care cases for disabled adults and children; inquests and human rights claims arising out of deaths in custody; immigration; legal aid; and death penalty cases in the Privy Council. He has been instructed in many significant human rights challenges in the higher courts, appearing on over 20 occasions in the Supreme Court, House of Lords and Privy Council and in a number of significant cases in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2015 he was appointed to the ‘A’ Panel of Counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). In 2019 he was honoured with the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award for his long-time commitment to legal aid and pro bono work. Cases include:
EU Law plays a significant part in many of Paul’s public law cases, for example:
Paul has a particular interest and expertise in the legal systems of the United Kingdom’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies and has advised in, and appeared in cases, before the courts of the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Jersey, Cyprus, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including on many occasions in the Privy Council. Paul is listed in Legal 500 as a leading silk for Offshore work. Cases include:
Paul has a specialist interest in public law, civil actions and HRA challenges involving regulatory authorities, criminal justice agencies and other investigating authorities (arrests, questioning, the taking and retention of intimate samples, the execution of search warrants), prosecuting authorities (decisions to prosecute and not to prosecute), inferior courts and tribunals (issue of search warrants, orders for third party disclosure and the like) and detaining institutions (prisons, immigration detention, psychiatric hospitals). He appears in criminal appeals raising fundamental constitutional issues, in particular Privy Council appeals in death row cases. He also appears in other civil actions arising out of the actions of regulatory, criminal justice, investigatory and detaining authorities. Paul has experience of the criminal justice system as a Recorder.
Relevant public law cases include:
Relevant Criminal Appeals include:
Paul advises and represents individuals and public bodies in relation to all aspects of freedom of information and data protection law. He also has experience in relation to the restraining of disclosure and press reporting of confidential and private information. Paul is a contributor to the latest edition of Information Law (Phillip Coppel (Ed.). Cases include:
Paul also has considerable experience as a Special Advocate in disputes concerning the disclosure of sensitive and secret material, in particular in the context of Closed Material procedures in a range of different courts and tribunals including Control Order (now TPIMs) proceedings in the High Court, SIAC, judicial review and employment and discrimination proceedings.
Paul is a public law specialist with particular expertise in oil and gas regulation.
Paul appeared for the respondents in a recent telecoms judicial review Datalink v Office v Utility, Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) (Grand Court, Cayman Islands).
Paul chaired the public inquiry into the death of Welsh MP Carl Sargeant and has been instructed in many inquests, particularly those arising out of deaths in custody and other deaths engaging State responsibility under Article 2 including police shootings, self-inflicted deaths in prison and other detaining institutions, including acting for the family of Connor Sparrowhawk. He has a particular expertise in the rights of the deceased and their families arising under Article 2 and has spoken regularly on this subject at high profile conferences. Paul was a member of the JUSTICE Working Party ‘When things go wrong’ which reported in 2020 how improvements can be made to the system of public inquiries, particularly in major incidents.
Paul acts in proceedings in which national security issues arise. He was a Special Advocate from 2007 to 2012, acting in the interests of terrorism suspects and other individuals in proceedings where national security is used to justify restrictions on disclosure and the use of Closed material. He has appeared in Control Order proceedings under the PTA 2005 (now TPIMs under the TPIMA 2011), Special Immigration Appeal Commission (SIAC) proceedings, cases before Employment Tribunals and judicial review proceedings in the Administrative Court and has relevant experience in Criminal Courts. Concluded cases include:
Paul is recommended as a leading silk (Band 1) in Court of Protection work in Chambers & Partners, which notes that ‘he is highly regarded for his knowledge of human rights issues and their impact on the Court of Protection’ and ’He acts in some of the most important mental capacity cases and he is a true star.’ Paul appears mainly in health and welfare cases invoking the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection and the High Court involving disputed issues of care and residence, the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and deprivations of liberty, representing vulnerable adults and children (usually through the Official Solicitor), local authorities, health authorities and other interested parties. He is the author of 'Blackstone’s Guide to the Mental Health Act 2007’ (OUP, 2008), which considers in detail the health and welfare jurisdiction of the Court of Protection under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the amendments of the 2007 Act which introduced the ‘deprivation of liberty safeguards’. He was involved in key cases in the development of this area of law including R v Bournewood Community Mental Health NHS Trust ex p L, (House of Lords) and HL v United Kingdom (ECtHR) and has been in a number of more recent important cases, including:
Paul represents individuals and public authorities in advice work and judicial review claims concerning the provision of health, community care and education services including decisions relating to the assessment and provision of services; direct payments; the development and application of eligibility criteria; charging; and the closure of care homes, among others.
Paul also has a particular expertise in relation to the care, treatment and detention of psychiatric patients. He has been described in Chambers & Partners as ‘a master of his field when it comes to mental health matters that raise human rights issues’. He is the author of the Blackstone’s Guide to the Mental Health Act 2007, published in January 2008 (OUP). Paul has been in many of the leading cases concerning the rights of psychiatric patients in the last 20 years. The following is a selection of the more important cases:
European Court of Human Rights
Domestic cases: Supreme Court or House of Lords
Court of Appeal
Contributor to ‘Information Law’, Phillip Coppell (Ed.), 2020.
'Blackstone’s Guide to the Mental Health Act 2007’ (OUP, 2008). In his foreword Lord Justice Munby writes ‘Those who use the book ... will benefit enormously from [Paul Bowen’s] detailed knowledge and illuminating analysis of an area of law which is as technically complex as it is socially important’.
Former solicitor, Clifford Chance, 1991-1993
Previous chambers: Doughty Street Chambers, 2000-2014; Cloisters Chambers, 1999-2000
University: Exeter, 1986-'89 (LLB 2.1; EU law, 1st)
Appointments: Deputy High Court Judge (2021); Member, JUSTICE Working Party ‘When things go wrong’ (2019); Chair, Independent QC Investigation into the death of Carl Sargeant MSP (2018); Recorder of the Crown Court (2018); Queen’s Counsel (2012); Equality and Human Rights Commission ’A’ Panel (2015 and 2019); Called to the Bar of St Vincent & the Grenadines (2012); Legal Services Commission Special Controls Review Panel (2011-2013); Advisory Panel to the Children’s Commissioner (2011-2013); former Special Advocate (2007-2012).
Membership of associations: JUSTICE; ALBA; HRLA; Liberty
2019 – Winner ‘Outstanding Achievement’, at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards held by the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group
2009 - Winner ‘Advocate of the Year’ at the Law Society Excellence Awards.
2007 - Short-listed as ‘Barrister of the Year’ at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards, held by the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group.
Since 2005 Paul has been consistently recommended in Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 as a leading barrister in Administrative and Public law and Human Rights and Civil Liberties and, now, Offshore. In Chambers & Partners he is named as a leading silk in these two areas and two more: Court of Protection and Community Care.
Legal 500 2022
Chambers & Partners 2021
Legal 500 2021
Chambers & Partners 2020
Legal 500 2020
Chambers and Partners 2019
Chambers and Partners 2018
Chambers and Partners 2017
Chambers and Partners 2016
Legal 500 2018-19
Legal 500 2017
Legal 500 2016
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