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 specialises in public, environmental and international law.

She was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2009, and since then has been instructed in some of the leading public and environmental matters 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). She acts for a range of commercial clients, as well as central and local government.

Catherine has been ranked as a leading junior for several years by Chambers & Partners. She is a member of the Attorney General’s C Panel of Counsel.

Catherine is a Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where she supervises constitutional law.

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 having contributed to the forthcoming edition of Stephen Tromans QC’s Nuclear Law: The Law Applying to Nuclear Installations and Radioactive Substances in its Historic Context and devised and delivered a six-part training programme for in-house lawyers at a nuclear new-build facility.

Catherine is currently instructed on behalf of Southern Water Services Ltd in an inquiry concerning the interface between environmental legislation and the water abstraction licensing regime.

Recent Cases:

  • R (London Borough of Hillingdon and others) v Secretary of State for Transport 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 & 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.

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

Catherine is currently acting as sole assistant to Lord Dyson in the New Bermondsey Independent Inquiry, a non-statutory inquiry established to investigate allegations concerning a compulsory purchase order made in relation to land adjacent to the Millwall Football Club stadium.

Cases of note include:

  • R (AR) v The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police & Others (on appeal to the UKSC). Led by Jenni Richards QC
  • Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre v The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority [2017] EWHC 659 – 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) (on appeal) – 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.
  • NHS Trust & Ors v FG [2014] EWCOP 30 (COP) – guidance case on applications relating antenatal, perinatal and post natal care.
  • 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.


Catherine has a growing international practice with particular interests in energy and infrastructure projects and the interface between public international law and environmental law. She will be teaching Public International Law at Cambridge University from 2017-2018.

Examples of her practice include:

  • Appointment as permanent Secretary to an ad hoc arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules relating to a multi-million pound construction dispute that lasted four years.
  • Communication to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.
  • 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.

International Criminal Court

Before coming to the bar, Catherine worked as a legal assistant to the Defence Team of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo at the International Criminal Court, working on the first trial to take place before the Court. This included work on the application of the Rome Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Regulations of the Court and Registry; the status of the enrolment of child soldiers as a crime in customary international law; the nature of the armed conflict in the Ituri region of DRC; the existence of a right to interlocutory appeal on a decision to confirm charges in the  Rome Statute; the modalities of victim participation at the ICC; and, the conditions for provisional release under the Rome Statute.

Recommendations


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

“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.”

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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