Alison Foster QC

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“Very impressive. She is very clever, handles clients exceptionally well and has great instincts as an advocate.”
Chambers UK 2018

“A highly effective and confident advocate, who is listened to by judges at all levels.”
Legal 500 2017

Alison Foster QC’s practice is underpinned by her long-standing expertise as a public and administrative lawyer and consists of human rights, commercial matters and a particular involvement in regulation and tax. Prior to taking silk she was Treasury Panel counsel for 12 years. She practises at the highest levels in each of these areas and strives to keep a broad based public law practice across them all, deliberately accepting instructions both for and against public bodies, and for individuals, both regulators and regulated. She currently is acting for financial advisors, for industry regulators, for individual claimants under the HRA, and for commercial entities and organs of state. Her cases are concerned with a wide range of subjects, including finance, pharmaceuticals, the rights of individuals, and the powers and duties of public bodies. Her advocacy work predominantly involves statutory construction, European Law and Human Rights. She has had a number of cases proceeding abroad concerning regulation and human rights, and also appears in various European jurisdictions in cases on the rights and duties of international civil servants. She endeavours to do a proportion of pro bono work at all times.

Alison has established a stellar reputation in each of her practice areas and is recognised by the leading industry directories as a Leading Silk in Administrative & Public Law, Professional Discipline and in Tax. She is also the Editor of the 8th Edition of Disciplinary and Regulatory Proceedings.

She has been involved in some of the most notable cases in these areas.

As to recent work, in addition to the Deepcut preparations and the Cheryl James’ appearances, she has had a handful of reported Court of Appeal appearances on tax and commercial related matters recently, one of which is currently proceeding to the Supreme Court. At the same time Alison is currently handling a number of confidential legal professional disciplinary cases presently, an HRA claim for breaches of obligations under Articles 6 and 8 ECHR, leading 2 teams of juniors in both a corporation tax appeal and a VAT appeal which will shortly come to court. She will appear in The Hague in December 2016 in a confidential matter concerning a European institution.

Alison sits as a Deputy High Court Judge of the Chancery Division.

Alison was awarded Professional Discipline Silk of the Year at the Chambers Bar Awards 2017.




Alison is recommended in all the major reference guides and as a Leading Silk in each of her practice specialisms: Administrative & Public Law, Professional Discipline and Indirect Tax.

Recent comments include:

  • “Very impressive. She is very clever, handles clients exceptionally well and has great instincts as an advocate.”
  • “A highly effective and confident advocate who is listened to by judges at all levels. She is supremely knowledgeable in regulatory law.” “An apparently effortless command of the legal and procedural frameworks involved and she has an excellent strategic view of a case. Crucially, she is thoughtful, humane and yet realistic with clients.”
  • “A supremely confident advocate who can think on her feet and is well respected by judges and clients alike. She’s got the authority and experience to reassure clients and make judges listen to her.” “She has an apparently effortless command of the legal and procedural frameworks involved and has an excellent strategic view of a case.”
  •  “Unprecedented stamina and tremendous gravitas.”
  • “She demonstrates impressive knowledge of a wide range of issues.”
  • “She is absolutely excellent and everything you want in a silk. She is very approachable and clear, and adds insight.”
  • “She’s great to work with. A very, very charming advocate. Clients love her. She gets on top of things quickly and has got a really good manner in court.”
  • “She is hugely respected and a real administrative law heavyweight who is always up for the fight.”
  • “An approachable lawyer and effective advocate.”
  • “A highly effective and confident advocate.”
  • “Expert knowledge of regulatory judicial review.”
  • “She has the skill and gravitas to strike exactly the right balance in very difficult circumstances.”
  • “She is supremely knowledgeable when it comes to regulatory law, and confident and assertive in court.”
  • “simply outstanding, and highly approachable”
  • “articulate, superb with clients and absolutely on top of her subject matter… a very powerful advocate”
  • “ticks all the boxes – she is extremely bright, understands immediately what our objectives are, and is an excellent strategist.”
  • “real “gravitas” for more complex cases”
  • “a charming barrister who is not afraid of a challenge… thorough and well-researched advice… a name that ranks up there beyond all others… client-focused and down-to-earth”
  • “someone with a real eye for detail who excels on complex and high-profile cases, a real leader in her field”


Related Cases

Selection of Representative Reported Cases

The following (mostly very recent) reported cases are chosen to illustrate the breadth of Alison’s practice at a high level across all areas of administrative, human rights, regulatory and commercial law:

R. (on the application of de Silva) v Revenue and Customs Commissioners (Court of Appeal) [2016] S.T.C. 1333; [2016] B.T.C. 6; (currently the subject of a petition to the Supreme Court)

Alison acted successfully in defending the Revenues approach to direct taxation and reliefs concerning the film industry

Isle of Wight & Others v HMRC [2015] EWCA Civ 1303; [2016] P.T.S.R. 620

This competition law case involved principles of VAT and public law and billions of alleged lost revenue. Alison acted successfully for HMRC in the matter which had been running for over 10 years.

BMC Properties and Management Ltd v Jackson (Valuation Officer) (Court of Appeal) [2015] EWCA Civ 1306; [2016] R.A. 1

A rating appeal in which Alison acted for the claimant property owner relying upon drafting inadequacies in the Local Govt. Finance Act 1988

R. (on the application of Chancery (UK) LLP) v Financial Ombudsman Service Ltd [2015] EWHC 407 (Admin); [2015] B.T.C. 13; (currently to be heard before the Court of Appeal)

This is the first challenge to the Financial Ombudsman’s assertion of jurisdiction over tax advisors, Alison acts for the advisor. The case will be heard shortly on appeal.

Health and Care Professions Council v Lovett (un reported) (to 2015)

This was the longest and most complex case the HCPC have dealt with.

Alison acted for a clinical psychologist facing multiple allegations by a high profile family, including fraudulent claims for fees and expenses; refusal to disclose clinical records; false representations about patients’ mental health; misrepresenting qualifications; and inadequate treatment.

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons v Samuel Privy Council (United Kingdom), [2014] UKPC 13

Alison acted for the RCVS in an appeal by an ethnic minority practitioner who had reacted with violence to a racial insult

R. v C. (HL) [2009] UKHL 42; [2009] 1 W.L.R. 1786

Alison acted for the CPS in their appeal in the leading case on capacity to consent and offences against mentally discorded persons

Fleming (t/a Bodycraft) v Customs & Excise Commissioners (HL) [2008] UKHL [2008] 1 W.L.R. 195; [2008] 1 All E.R. 1061; [2008] S.T.C. 324; [2008] 1 C.M.L.R. 48; [2008] Eu. L.R. 455; [2008] B.T.C. 5096; [2008] B.V.C. 221; [2008] S.T.I. 181; (2008) 158 N.L.J. 182; (2008) 152(5) S.J.L.B. 30; [2008] N.P.C.

This was a £2 Billion case involving back claims for tax by taxpayers, where national legislation imposing a limitation period was defective and involved transitional arrangements under European law.


The supply of pathology services, including testing samples of body fluid and tissue, by a private company to NHS Trusts constituted “medical care” and was therefore exempt from VAT.


The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal had been justified in imposing a total fine of £75,000 upon a firm and two partners who had been found guilty of misconduct after allowing the firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility by a client who was at risk of insolvency. There had been payments through the account of over £10 million and the solicitors had made decisions which involved the favourable treatment of some unsecured creditors over others. The misconduct was sufficiently serious to require the highest level of fine.

R v C [HL] [ [2010] Crim LR 75

Consent, capacity and the criminal law

Revenue and Customs Commissioners v London Clubs Management (CA) [ 2012] STC 388 Tax

Partial exemption and the gaming industry and the propriety of various methods of calculation. Consideration of the use of Management Accounts and accounting evidence in tax appeals, and economic reality

R v Zenios Hampstead Garden Suburb (CA) [2011] EWCA 1645

Law of Property Act 1925, non-public body operating a scheme of management: parliamentary intention, promotion of the public interest and interests in land

Revenue & Customs Commissioners V (1) Insurancewide.Com Services Ltd (2) Trader Media Group Ltd (CA) [2010] STC 1572 : [2011] Lloyd’s Rep IR 120

Incidence of tax on insurance – broking, intermediary services; meaning of insurance terms in European Law

Mr Malcolm Morgan Jones (on behalf of the estate of Mr Evan Jones in his own capacity) and (1) Powys Local Health Board (2) Neath Port Talbot Local Health Board (2009) 12 CCL Rep 68

Restitution claim for care home fees

Riverside Housing v Revenue and Customs Commissioner [2006] STC 2072

Social landlords,  scope of concept of commercial activity and economic activity, public authority, limits of concepts of public law in indirect taxation and exemption

Giuseppe Ruscillo v (1) Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals (2) General Medical Council: Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals (2) General Medical Council v (1) The Nursing & Midwifery Council (2) Steven Truscott (CA) 1 WLR 717; [2005] Lloyd’s Rep Med 65;

Leading case on the extent of the powers of the Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals

Pegasus Birds Ltd v Customs & Excise Commissioners (CA) [2004] STC 1509

Leading case on the statutory test for best judgment and European administrative law implications for Commissioners under VATA

R v The National Lottery Commission ex parte Camelot plc (QBD) 21 September 2000 [2001] EMLR 43

Decision of the UK National Lottery Commission not to award the new 7 year lottery license to Camelot plc: commercial licenses and fairness

R v Lloyd’s of London ex parte Briggs [1993] Ll. LR 176

First JR of Lloyd’s of London as regulator

R v Board of Inland Revenue ex parte MFK Underwriting [1990] 1All ER 91

Leading authority on estoppel commercial law and Revenue concessions

R (JB) v (1) A Haddock (2) J Rigby (3) Wood (CA) [2006] Lloyd’s Rep Med 433 : (2007) 93 BMLR 52

Legality of forcible treatment with anti-psycotics to non consenting patients

R (Rogers) v Swindon NHS Primary Care Trust and Secretary of State for Health (CA); [2006] 1 WLR 2649

The availability of Herceptin to women suffering breast cancer

R (on the application of Dennis Nilsen) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (CA)  (2005) 1 WLR 1028; (2005) EMLR 11and ECHR 3 – 6882/05 [2008] ECHR 1664

Acting for Dennis Nilsen’s regarding prison and his autobiography Art 10, Art 5. Claims

R (CPS) v Registrar General for Births, Deaths and Marriages (CA) [2003] QB 1222

Leading case on scope of marriage statutes and duties of Registrar

Nicole Threlfall v General Optical Council The Times 2nd December 2004

First High Court challenge to the disciplinary powers of the General Optical Council, defining jurisdiction and regulatory scope of Regulations.

Gage v General Chiropractic Council (QBD) (QBD) 1 November 2004 [2004] EWHC 2762 (Admin)

First High Court challenge to the disciplinary powers and jurisdiction of a new regulator under untested statutory provisions

R (A, B, X & Y) v East Sussex County Council and Disability Rights Commission (QBD) [2003] LGR 529; (2003) 6 CCLR 177 and 193

First case on duties of carers under HRA regarding lifting of disabled

R (Mahmood) v Royal Pharmaceutical Society Of Great Britain (CA) 31 July 2001 [2002] 1 WLR 879 CA

First pharmaceutical consideration of higher education and European requirements.

R v Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain ex parte Panjawani [2002] 1127 (Admin)

First post Human Rights Act analysis of the professional disciplinary procedures of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.


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