Jonathan Darby

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“He’s very thorough, very knowledgeable and clients like him.”
Chambers & Partners 2018

“A clear advocate, who is persistent and tenacious and does very well with the court.”
Chambers & Partners 2017

Jon’s planning, environmental and property practice complements broader public and administrative law interests and his varied civil liability work. Jon appears regularly in all types of court and tribunal alongside undertaking pleading and advisory work for a wide variety of domestic and international clients, including developers, consultants, local authorities, and the Government Legal Department. He has been appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of Counsel.

Before coming to the Bar, Jon taught Property and International Environmental Law at Cambridge University whilst completing a PhD in International Environmental Law at Queens’ College.

Environment, Planning & Property

Jon is ranked by Chambers & Partners as a leading junior for planning law (Band 5) and is regularly listed as one of the top planning juniors under the age of 35 in the Planning Magazine’s annual survey.

Frequently instructed as both sole and junior counsel, Jon advises developers, consultants, local authorities, objectors, third party interest groups and private clients on all aspects of the planning process, including planning enforcement (both inquiries and criminal proceedings), planning appeals (inquiries, hearings and written representations), injunctions, and criminal prosecutions under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Jon’s advisory practice covers consultation throughout the lifecycle of applications and appeals as well as the drafting of case documents, submissions and legal arguments. Jon has previously undertaken secondments to local authorities, where he advised on a range of planning and environmental matters including highways, compulsory purchase and rights of way.

Jon also provides advice and representation in nuisance claims (public and private), boundary disputes and Land Registration Tribunal matters.

Jon’s wider public law practice provides him with a particular expertise in statutory challenges and applications for judicial review, in relation to which he has acted for claimants, defendants and interested parties.

Recent cases and inquiries of particular note include:

  • Huntingdonshire District Council v Johnson – appeared on behalf of the Applicant local authority in contempt proceedings relating to unauthorised work to a listed building in which the Respondent was given a 6 week suspended custodial sentence and ordered to pay £25,000 towards the local authority’s costs;
  • G Forge Limited – Judicial Review Claim re Stanford West Lorry Park – instructed on behalf of an Interested Party in relation to a decision of the Secretary of State for Transport to provide both temporary and permanent areas, to do works and erect buildings for parking heavy and goods vehicles outside the highway near M20 junction 11 without having first provided an Environmental Impact Assessment as required under Directive 2011/92 EU December 2011 (on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment);
  • R (Tesco Stores Limited) v. (1) Forest of Dean District Council (2) Asda Stores Limited and Others (as junior to Paul Stinchcombe QC) – successfully appeared on behalf of the Third Interested Party (Windmill Limited), when neither the Respondent nor any other Interested Party appeared to resist the appeal, distinguishing the trilogy of Mid Counties cases (R (Mid Counties Co-Operative Limited) v Forest of Dean District Council [2013] EWHC 1908; [2014] EWHC 3059; and [2015] EWHC 1251;
  • Blackwall Reach CPO Inquiry (as junior to Peter Village QC) – a two week inquiry into the orders required for the Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project;
  • Broomhills, Braintree (as junior to Peter Village QC) – an 8 day inquiry into proposals for a large out of centre supermarket;
  • Carlyon Bay footpath inquiry (as junior to Peter Village QC) – a week long inquiry into proposals for the modification of the Definitive Map;
  • Turner v SSCLG in the Court of Appeal (as sole counsel for the Appellant) – an appeal against a judgment of Mr Justice Collins alleging various errors of law in the report and conduct of an Inquiry in relation to a called-in proposal for a significant scheme on the site surrounding the Shell Tower on the South Bank;
  • Advising in relation to the Sugar House Lane CPO (as junior to John Steel QC);
  • Advising a property agent as to the application of the Crichel Down Rules (as junior to John Steel QC);
  • R (Atkins) v Tandridge District Council [2014/2015] (as junior to John Steel QC) in relation to a challenge to a change of use of a motocross track;
  • Advising in relation to a large scale solar farm (as junior to Stephen Tromans QC);
  • Advising on, and appearing in, statutory nuisance actions in the Magistrates Court (as sole and junior counsel);
  • Acting as sole counsel in public inquiries relating to listed buildings, conservation areas, large scale residential development, Green Belts and Bridleway Creation Orders.
  • Advising a major house builder as to the implications of CIL and the lawfulness of its proposed approach to viability assessments;
  • Advice, drafting and advocacy in relation to the prospect of judicial review and the seeking of injunctions in respect of a major landmark building in Liverpool.

Jon frequently delivers seminars and papers to a wide range of audiences, including developers, local authorities, consultants and property professionals. He is the co-editor of Sweet & Maxwell’s Planning Law: Practice and Precedents and is a contributor to Shackleton on the Law of Meetings.

In addition, Jon taught Property Law and International Environmental Law at Cambridge University for a number of years whilst completing his PhD.

Administrative & Public

Jon has a wide public law practice, encompassing planning and environmental law, compulsory purchase, highways, housing, public procurement, civil liberties and human rights, freedom of information, and local government law. Jon’s experience of local government law includes prosecutions in the Crown and Magistrates’ Courts concerning a range of matters, including environmental protection and noise abatement.

Jon has been instructed by the Border Agency, appearing in a significant number of immigration tribunal appeals, as well as the Government Legal Department in relation to judicial review challenges to immigration decisions, the “Mau Mau” uprising, public procurement matters and large-scale disclosure exercises.


Jon is regularly instructed in sensitive inquests, including appearing for both local authorities and families. He is prepared to consider Pro Bono representation in appropriate instances. He appeared alongside Andrew Deakin in FJ (a child) (Inquest) (2013), which related to the death of a child at school and required applications for extended reporting restrictions to limit press exposure of child witnesses.

Civil Liability

Jon accepts instructions in a broad range of civil liability matters and acts for both claimants and defendants in small claims, fast-track and multi-track cases in the High Court and the County Courts, as well as appearing in the Coroners’ Court.

Jon provides advocacy, drafts pleadings, and advises on liability and quantum in high-value and complex disputes across a range of subject matters, including:

  • Nuisance (public and private)
  • Flooding
  • Property damage (including subsidence),
  • Environmental torts (including those relating to waste)
  • Employer’s Liability
  • Occupiers’ Liability
  • Highways claims
  • Claims under the Animals Act 1971
  • Road Traffic Accidents (including Credit Hire).

Jon also appears in applications for strike out and summary judgment, as well as costs and case management hearings

Jon is currently instructed by the Police Federation in relation to a large number of claims for payment of a statutory debt arising out of the Court of Appeal judgment in Vincent, Allard & Buckley v Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall [2015] EWCA Civ 42.


“He’s an excellent junior who is on top of the details and really adds value in assisting his leaders. He’s very thorough, very knowledgeable and clients like him.” Chambers & Partners 2018

“Jon can always be relied upon for fast, commercial and pragmatic advice.” Chambers & Partners 2018

“A clear advocate, who is persistent and tenacious and does very well with the court.” Chambers & Partners 2017

“Jon is extremely competent, very good in conference and someone who gives pragmatic advice on issues.” Chambers & Partners 2017

“Jon came to the case relatively late in the process. The issues were complex and technically challenging and yet he was able to absorb vast amounts of information in a relatively short period of time. The Council was very impressed by his grasp and understanding of the issues and the positive and constructive manner in which he provided specialist advice …”
Client Testimonial

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