Case details

In the matter of an application by Kevin Maguire for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland)

Case ID: UKSC 2015/0134

Case summary


In publically funded cases in which the court has certified that the interests of justice require the accused to have the services of two counsel to conduct his trial, where the accused wishes to retain a particular junior counsel, the requirement of the General Council of the Bar that he must instruct an available senior counsel or proceed with junior counsel is not compatible with the accused’s convention right under Article 6(3) to defend himself through legal assistance of his own choosing? (Certified point of law of general public importance) [Error in question as certified]


The appellant was accused of sexual offences. A certificate for legal aid was granted for representation by two counsel by a District Judge, by reason of the case appearing to present exceptional difficulty. The appellant instructed a junior barrister, Mr Barlow, and Mr Neville, a solicitor-advocate, to act as his counsel at the trial. The jury failed to reach a verdict and was discharged. A re-trial was scheduled. The position of the respondent Bar Council of Northern Ireland, as reflected in their Code of Conduct at the relevant time, was that where legal aid was granted for two barristers in criminal cases, one should be a senior counsel except in exceptional circumstances. As he is not a senior counsel, Mr Barlow was disciplined by the Bar Council for leading in the appellant’s first trial (no steps having been taken by him to ascertain whether senior counsel was available). The appellant wrote to the Bar Council shortly before his re-trial was to commence expressing his wish to have Mr Barlow as leading counsel in his case with assistance from a junior. The Bar Council refused. Various correspondence followed between the Bar Council and the appellant, who alleged that the appellant’s inability to instruct Mr Barlow as his lead advocate with the assistance of a junior breached Article 6(3) ECHR. The Bar Council maintained its position and the appellant applied for judicial review, pending which his retrial was stayed. The Divisional Court rejected his application. Following this, the retrial took place. The appellant was acquitted on seven counts, with the jury unable to reach a verdict on the four remaining.

Judgment appealed

[2015] NIQB 4



Kevin Maguire


General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland



Lord Kerr, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones

Hearing start date

19 Oct 2017

Hearing finish date

19 Oct 2017

Watch hearing
19 Oct 2017 Morning session Afternoon session