Jonathan Darby

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“He is a clever and very capable junior. He is impressive and quick on paper too.”
Chambers & Partners 2019

“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.

Planning, Environment & Property

Jon is ranked by Chambers & Partners as a leading junior for planning law (Band 5) and is listed as one of the top planning juniors 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), development plan examinations, 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.

A selection of Jon’s recent and forthcoming cases and inquiries of particular note include:

Residential (including specialist provision), retail and mixed use

  • Welton Bibby – inquiry into the proposed mixed use redevelopment (including residential and employment uses) of the former Welton Bibby factory 5 hectare site in Midsomer Norton, Somerset, acting on behalf of Bath & North East Somerset Council;
  • Land adjacent to Old Thanet Way (as junior to Peter Village QC) – appeal in relation to a residential development near Whitstable, acting on behalf of Quinn Estates;
  • Sykes v Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council (CO/2352/2017) – secured the quashing of a planning permission granted by Chester West & Chester Council for the demolition of the existing boathouse (Class D2) and erection of a Watersports Hub (Class D2) with associated parking, access, landscaping and plant at Lower Park Road, Chester (on a ground alleging procedural unfairness);
  • Ashdown Company v SSCLG (CO/4195/2017) – challenge in relation to permission for a 63 bedroom, Level 5+ dementia care unit with hospice and end of life wing, acted on behalf of the SSCLG;
  • 499 London Road Ltd v SSCLG & Dacorum BC (CO/4098/2017) – challenge in relation to permission for the demolition of an existing retail showroom, workshop and associated facilities and construction of offices with retail and lobby areas, acted on behalf of the SSCLG;
  • Shiva Ltd v SSCLG (CO/2387/2017) – challenge to the dismissal of two section 78 appeals in relation to the erection of a prototype two bedroom rooftop dwelling house for a temporary period of two years, acted on behalf of the applicant;
  • 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;
  • Broomhills, Braintree (as junior to Peter Village QC) – an 8 day inquiry into proposals for a large out of centre supermarket;
  • Reedholm Villas – written representations appeal in relation to roof extensions adjacent to a conservation area, acted on behalf of the appellant;
  • 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 local authorities and applicants as to the potential implications of section 73 applications for the variation of conditions, including as to unit numbers, phasing, occupancy conditions, etc
  • Advising a major house builder as to the implications of CIL and the lawfulness of its proposed approach to viability assessments.

Compulsory purchase

  • Eccles Wastewater Treatment Works (as junior to James Strachan QC) – seven week CPO inquiry, acting on behalf of United Utilities;
  • Blackwall Reach CPO Inquiry (as junior to Peter Village QC) – a two week inquiry into the orders required for the Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project;
  • 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).


  • McGavin v Stroud & Or (CO/46/2018) – challenge in relation to the proper interpretation and application of section 66(1) and NPPF paras 131 – 134, acted on behalf of applicant;
  • 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;
  • Air Studios – secured the withdrawal of a planning appeal relating to extensive basement extensions that would have threatened the viability of the historic studios at Lyndhurst Hall in Hampstead (itself of significant architectural and historical interest classified as Grade II* listed), acted on behalf of the world famous studios;
  • 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.

Environmental, including EIA

  • G Forge Limited – Judicial Review Claim re Stanford West Lorry Park – instructed on behalf of an Interested Party in a judicial review brought on EIA grounds as a result of which the Secretary of State for Transport and Highways England pulled plans to build a lorry parking area for around 3,600 lorries at Stanford West in Kent;
  • Advising and acting on behalf of London Gateway Port (as junior to Stephen Tromans QC) in relation to nuisance claims brought by shellfish fishermen;
  • Advising local authorities and applicants in relation to screening opinions, including as to cumulative effects and multi stage consents.

Highways, including footpaths and village greens

  • Acting in numerous public inquiries in relation to footpath / bridleway modification / creation / extinguishment orders, including:
    • Ladys Meadow footpath inquiry, acting on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council;
    • Luccombe Mill footpath inquiry (as junior to Peter Village QC) – a high profile week long footpath inquiry;
    • Carlyon Bay footpath inquiry (as junior to Peter Village QC) – a week long inquiry into proposals for the modification of the Definitive Map;
  • Advising Hertfordshire County Council in relation to matters arising as to numerous traffic regulation orders;
  • Advising Hertfordshire County Council in relation to matters arising as to adoption under section 228 of the Highways Act 1980;
  • Advising various traffic authorities in relation to special events orders, traffic regulation orders and related matters;
  • Advising various local authorities and applicants in relation to highways related issues.

Minerals and energy, including fracking

  • Harthill – two week inquiry into the proposed construction of a well Site, mobilisation of drilling, ancillary equipment and contractor welfare facilities to drill and pressure transient test a vertical hydrocarbon exploratory core well, acting on behalf of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council;
  • Advising in relation to a large scale solar farm (as junior to Stephen Tromans QC).

Enforcement and nuisance

  • Advising on, and appearing in, statutory nuisance actions in the Magistrates Court (as sole and junior counsel);
  • Advising in relation to the interaction between the nuisance and planning regimes, including as it arises in relation to planning applications; for example, ongoing representation of Strongroom Studios in relation to its objection to an adjacent development proposal on noise and vibration grounds)
  • 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.

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, including Inquiries, Inquests and Investigations

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.

Sports Law

Jon is developing his practice in relation to sports disciplinary and commercial law alongside other sports-related matters, both as specialisms and as they interact with other areas of his practice such as public, regulatory, licensing, personal injury and human rights.

A keen sportsman, Jon played semi-professional football for a number of years after his release from the professional game.  He retains close ties to both current and previous professionals, including a number who are now in the professional game in a number of different guises.  As a student, he captained the Cambridge University football side and gained representative honours in Badminton whilst competing at a national level. He also represented Northamptonshire County Cricket Club at youth level.

As such, Jon is well placed to advise and provide assistance in relation to various legal issues whilst at the same time having a profound understanding of the unique nature of sporting clients’ needs and the wider sporting industry.

Central Government

Jon has been appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of Counsel and is frequently instructed by the Government Legal Department in relation to both public and private law matters, across the full breadth of his practice.

Energy & Infrastructure

Jon regularly advises local planning and mineral authorities, as well as energy and utilities companies in respect of a wide range of energy and natural resource related matters.  He has advised and appeared in a number of inquiries into related appeal proposals.  His compulsory purchase experience extends to major infrastructure projects, including new highways proposals and large scale utilities projects.

Local Government

Jon regularly advises local authorities on a range of planning and environmental matters including highways, compulsory purchase and rights of way.  He has previously undertaken secondments to local authorities.


“He churns out work in one evening that would take most people a week.” Chambers & Partners 2019

“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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