“A genuine rising star – highly intelligent and extremely thorough, she is always willing to go the extra mile.”
“The level of technical detail that she can absorb, digest and quickly turn around advice on is phenomenal. Whatever the subject and whatever the issue, she just gets it instantly.”
Chambers & Partners
Catherine Dobson has a broad practice which combines general public law and environmental law.
She was called to the Bar in 2009 and since then has been instructed in some of the leading cases in these fields, including Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal (the leading Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of ouster clauses), Re Y  UKSC 46 (the landmark Supreme Court decision concerning withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment), Barr v Biffa Waste Ltd (the leading Court of Appeal decision on the relationship between private nuisance and statutory pollution control) and R (London Borough of Hillingdon and others) v Secretary of State for Transport (challenging the Government’s decision to support a third runway at Heathrow Airport).
Catherine has been ranked as a leading junior for several years by Chambers & Partners. She is a member of the Attorney General’s B Panel of Counsel and the Equality and Human Rights Commission C Panel of Counsel.
Catherine is a Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where she supervises constitutional 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 by the coalition of claimants (the Mayor of London, Greenpeace and 5 local authorities) in a challenge to the Government’s decision to support a third runway at Heathrow.
She has detailed knowledge of international, European and domestic environmental law and is frequently instructed to advise in cases raising issues under the Aarhus Convention, the SEA Directive, the EIA Directive and the Habitats Directive. In addition to this general experience, she has particular expertise in the following areas:
Water resources law
Catherine has considerable experience working in the field of water rights and regulation, having appeared in two of the most important cases in this field in the last decade: Canal & Rivers Trust v Thames Water Utilities Ltd  EWCA Civ 342 and Manchester Ship Canal v United Utilities plc  UKSC 40.
She has recently completed a 12 month instruction acting for Southern Water Services Ltd, culminating in a public inquiry concerning the interface between environmental legislation and the water abstraction licensing regime.
She is currently advising another major utility company on issues surrounding Water Resource Management Plans and sustainability reductions.
Catherine has expertise in the legal and scientific issues arising in relation to air quality law. She is currently involved in the high profile legal challenge to the Government’s decision to support a third runway at Heathrow on, amongst other grounds, the basis that the Government’s approach to air quality was flawed.
Since here involvement in the landmark Barr v Biffa claim, Catherine has gone on to act for a number of claimants and defendants in a group private nuisance claims relating to the operation of a range of businesses including landfill sites, waste treatment sites, food production sites.
Catherine 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. In recent years she has devised and delivered a six-part training programme for in-house lawyers at a nuclear new-build facility; devised and delivered a one-day round table conference on nuclear cyber liability in conjunction with the Washington DC based Stimpson institute and spoken at a number of industry conferences on the implications of Brexatom.
Environmental cases of note include:
Catherine is an experienced public law practitioner and has taught constitutional law at Cambridge University for over ten years.
Judicial review and human rights
Catherine has a broad public law practice, encompassing judicial review and human rights claims across a range of sectors including environmental, healthcare, regulatory, national security, economic sanctions and financial services.
Cases of note include:
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 has taught constitutional law at Cambridge University for over 10 years and was a visiting lecturer in public law at the Paris campus of the Université Catholique de Lille (2014 –2015). She is brought in to advise on cases with a constitutional dimension, including on questions pertaining to devolution and legislative competence.
She recently acted on behalf of the FCO and GCHQ (led by James Eadie QC and Kate Grange QC) before the Supreme Court in the appeal in Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a case which raises important constitutional questions about the effect of an ouster clause in the Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Catherine has developed a niche experise in healthcare, human rights and regulatory issues relating to the fertility sector having acted in the following matters:
Catherine has been involved in a number of public inquiries (both statutory and non-statutory) including:
In 2018 convened, with Lord Dyson, a conference on non-statutory public inquiries, covering issues of procedural fairness, data protection and FOIA issues and amenability to challenge.
Catherine appears regularly in the Court of Protection, acting for local authorities, CCGs and NHS Trusts, the Official Solicitor and family members in welfare and medical treatment disputes. In 2018, she appeared for the NHS Trust in the landmark medical treatment case of Re Y  UKSC 46, in which the Supreme Court held that there was no requirement for the court to decide upon the best interests of every patient with a prolonged disorder of consciousness before withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration.
She has experience bringing applications health and welfare applications under the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction and applications for urgent authorisation for medical treatment (including applications under the Children Act 1989 for urgent medical treatment in relation to children).
Catherine has a growing international practice with particular interests in energy and infrastructure projects and the interface between public international law and environmental law.
Examples of her practice include:
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.
Catherine is ranked in Chambers & Partners for Environmental Law and Court of Protection: Health & Welfare and Legal 500 for Administrative and Public Law (including Local Government), where clients are quoted as saying:
“She provides immensely helpful technical advice.” Legal 500 2020 (Administrative and Public, Leading Juniors)
“A genuine rising star – highly intelligent and extremely thorough, she is always willing to go the extra mile.” Legal 500 2020 (Environment, Leading Juniors)
“The level of technical detail that she can absorb, digest and quickly turn around advice on is phenomenal. Whatever the subject and whatever the issue, she just gets it instantly.” Chambers and Partners 2020 (Environment, London Bar)
“Very quick to grasp often very scientific and technical details and to give well-crafted technical advice to tight deadlines.” Chambers and Partners 2020 (Environment, London Bar)
“She is very meticulous and analytical, and has a robust approach. She puts a lot of effort into preparing cases.” Chambers and Partners 2020 (Court of Protection, London Bar)
“She is extremely bright but also caring and kind. She has the perfect balance and approach for vulnerable clients.” Chambers and Partners 2020 (Court of Protection, London Bar)
“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.”
“Catherine Dobson is fantastic, very clever and very on the ball.”
“She’s incredibly approachable and consistently good.”
“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.”