Catherine Dobson

Year of call:
2009
Email:
catherine.dobson@39essex.com

Clerks:
+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“Razor sharp and extremely compassionate, she can pick up a case very quickly and get to the heart of the issues. She gives clients confidence, and has an extremely good rapport with judges.”
Chambers & Partners

Catherine Dobson practises across three core areas: public law, commercial and construction law, and environmental law. She has appeared before a range of tribunals including the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Administrative Court, the TCC, the Court of Protection and at planning inquiries.

Catherine’s commercial and construction practice encompasses financial services, high-value commercial and infrastructure developments as well as international arbitrations. In her environmental practice, she has been instructed in some of the leading environmental cases of recent years, including Barr v Biffa Waste Ltd (the leading Court of Appeal decision on the relationship between private nuisance and statutory pollution control) and Austin v Miller Argent (South Wales) Ltd (a landmark case concerning the Aarhus Convention’s requirements on the cost of litigation in environmental matters as applied to private nuisance claims). In her public law practice, she undertakes nearly all advocacy and advisory work as sole counsel, with a practice spanning administrative law, human rights, mental health and community care and Court of Protection.

Catherine is a member of the Attorney General’s C Panel.

In addition to her practice at the Bar, Catherine continues to teach. She has supervised Constitutional Law at Cambridge University since 2008, where she is a Bye-Fellow at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge.

Environmental Law


Catherine has acted in some of the leading environmental cases in recent years including Barr v Biffa Waste Ltd (the leading Court of Appeal decision on the relationship between private nuisance and statutory pollution control) and Austin v Miller Argent (South Wales) Ltd (a landmark case concerning the Aarhus Convention’s requirements on the cost of litigation in environmental matters as applied to private nuisance claims). She is currently instructed on behalf of the Mayor of London and Transport for London in a challenge to the government’s decision in relation to a third runway at Heathrow.

She has a growing advisory practice which encompasses waste management, contaminated land, nuisance and renewable energy. She has a particular interest in the nuclear sector

Recent Cases:

  • R (London Borough of Hillingdon and others) v Secretary of State for Transport (ongoing) instructed by the Mayor of London and Transport for London in a challenge to the Government’s decision in relation to a proposed third runway at Heathrow. Led by Stephen Tromans (QC).
  • Canal & Rivers Trust v Thames Water Utilities Ltd [2016] EWHC 1547 (Ch) (on appeal) currently instructed by the Canal and River Trust in a case concerning water abstraction rights from the River Lee, raising issues about the interpretation of the Water Resources Act 1991. Led by Stephen Tromans QC.
  • Manchester Ship Canal v United Utilities plc [2014] UKSC 40 – acting for the Canal and River Trust in a case raising issues about the right of sewerage undertakers to discharge sewage and waste water into canals and waterways. Led by Stephen Tromans QC.
  • Austin v Miller Argent (South Wales) Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 1012 – landmark case concerning the Aarhus Convention’s requirements on the cost of litigation in environmental matters as applied to private nuisance claims In addition to the matter before the Court of Appeal a communication was made to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee. Led by Stephen Tromans QC.
  • Barr v Biffa Waste Ltd [2012] EWCA 312 – appearing in the Court of Appeal for the successful Appellants in this important case on the relationship of the law of nuisance and statutory pollution control. The judgment of the Technology & Construction Court was set aside both on the findings of fact and on the law, and the cross-appeal of Biffa on statutory authority was dismissed. Led by Stephen Tromans QC.

Public Law and Human Rights


Catherine has a keen interest in public law and human rights law and teaches the law of judicial review and civil liberties as part of the Constitutional Law course at Cambridge University. She regularly advises both claimants and public authorities on public law issues and appears in the High Court and County Courts in a range of public law matters. Her public law practice encompasses the fields of mental health, regulation, community care and financial services.

Cases of note include:

  • Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre v The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority – appeared for the claimant in a challenge to the lawfulness of decisions taken by the HFEA pursuant to its statutory duty to publish information for persons who are receiving fertility treatment. Led by Jenni Richards QC.
  • Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and another [2016] EWHC 2208 (QB) – appeared for the Claimant in a challenge to the compatibility of section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 with Article 14 read with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the basis that the exclusion of unmarried cohabiting partners from the scope of those who can claim bereavement damages is unlawful. Led by Vikram Sachdeva QC.
  • Core Issues Trust v Transport for London [2013] EWCA Civ 34; [2014] WLR (D) 35 – appeared for Transport for London in the High Court and the Court of Appeal in a challenge to its decision to refuse to permit an advertisement to be placed on London buses on the basis that it would cause public offence. Led by Nigel Pleming QC.
  • Warren v CARE [2014] EWHC 602 (Fam) – instructed in an application for a declaration as the lawfulness of the preservation of the applicant’s late husband’s sperm under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and the Embryology (Statutory Storage Period for Embryos and Gametes) Regulations 2009. Led by Jenni Richards QC.
  • Leveson Inquiry – instructed by the Treasury Solicitor to assist Robert Jay QC, Counsel to the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press.

Additional information:

As a judicial assistant to Lord Clarke during 2010-2011, Catherine worked on a range of cases raising public law and human rights issues, including the landmark decisions of Al Rawi v The Security Service [2011] UKSC 34; [2011] 3 WLR 288 (whether the court had the power to order a closed material procedure in an ordinary civil claim for damages) and Tariq v Home Office [2011] UKSC 35; [2011] 3 WLR 322 (whether Article 6 ECHR imposes an absolute requirement that, in a closed material procedure within proceedings in the employment tribunal, there be disclosed to the claimant sufficient details to enable him to instruct his legal representatives to challenge the allegations effectively).

Whilst working at the International Criminal Court as a legal assistant to the defence team of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Catherine developed a practical knowledge of the procedural and substantive aspects of international human rights law, in particular in the fields of prisoner’s rights and fair trial rights.

Constitutional Law

Catherine has a particular interest in cases raising constitutional issues and is regularly engaged to assist with cases raising novel questions of constitutional law.

Court of Protection and Mental Health

Razor sharp and extremely compassionate, she can pick up a case very quickly and get to the heart of the issues. She gives clients confidence, and has an extremely good rapport with judges.”  Chambers & Partners

Catherine has a busy Court of Protection practice and is regularly instructed by local authorities, the Official Solicitor and individuals in welfare, medical treatment and financial cases. She has a growing practice in property and affairs matters and has been nominated to sit as a mediator in the mediation pilot scheme organised by the Office of the Public Guardian. In the field of mental health, she has acted for patients, parents and AMPHs in applications to displace the nearest relative and advised in relation to habeas corpus proceedings relating to detention under the Mental Health Act 1983. She also delivers seminars and training on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Mental Health Act 1983.

Recent cases include:

  • NHS Trust & Ors v FG [2014] EWCOP 30 (COP) – guidance case on applications relating antenatal, perinatal and post natal care.
  • Instructed by the Official Solicitor in health and welfare dispute involving questions of capacity to consent to C-section, capacity to make decisions about whether to give up a child for adoption and capacity to make decisions about contraception.
  • Acting for a local authority in a welfare and residence case involving a vulnerable adult engaging in high risk sexual activity and advising in relation to the exercise of the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction in relation to vulnerable adults.
  • Bringing and defending challenges to the lawfulness of detention brought under section 21A of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
  • Acting for P in a property and welfare dispute involving challenge to P’s capacity to marry.
  • Acting for local authority in challenge to a statutory will raising issues of recognition of foreign marriage under English law.
  • Acting for P instructed by the Official Solicitor in a welfare dispute raising issues of Article 6 right to a fair trial in relation to nondisclosure of documents to parties to proceedings.

Commercial and Construction Law


Catherine has a growing commercial law practice. She has experience in the High Court and County Court, representing both claimants and defendants. She also undertakes the full range of pleading and advisory work.

Recent examples of commercial and construction work include:

  • Multi-year arbitration in the Middle East relating to a multi-million pound construction dispute.
  • ICC arbitration proceedings relating to a multi-million pound construction dispute concerning termination and delay issues.
  • Advising in relation to prospective claim arising out of multi-billion dollar construction project in the Middle East involving defects and delay issues.
  • Advising in relation to allocation of risk under a contract for a multi-million dollar construction project in the Middle East.

Recommendations


Catherine is ranked in Chambers & Partners for Environmental Law and Court of Protection: Health & Welfare, where clients are quoted as saying:

Razor sharp and extremely compassionate, she can pick up a case very quickly and get to the heart of the issues. She gives clients confidence, and has an extremely good rapport with judges.”

“Her skeleton arguments are excellently constructed and she has empathy and understanding for those in difficult circumstances.”

She’s wonderful with clients. She thinks beyond the legal ramifications and considers what the personal impact on the client is.”

She is able to pick up cases quickly and competently.”

She really understands and is sympathetic towards clients.”

Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

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