Justine Thornton QC

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1190

“She is very sought after”


“A great advocate with a fierce intellect”

“Her client skills are phenomenal”

“Excellent judgment “
Chambers & Partners / Legal 500

Justine Thornton QC specialises in environmental, planning and energy law.  She is widely regarded as a leader in her field and has been instructed on the biggest transport and energy infrastructure projects in the UK, including Hinkley Point C, Crossrail and HS2.  She was Counsel in one of the longest environmental trials in the UK over environmental damage in Colombia.  She acted in the largest environmental settlement to date in the UK, arising out of an oil spill in Nigeria.

Justine stands out for her experience in representing all sides in controversial high profile projects.  Clients include: Department for Energy and Climate Change; EDF; Southern Water; Department for Transport; Greenpeace; Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs; United Utilities; the Environment Agency; and local residents concerned to protect the environment.

Justine sits as a Deputy High Court Judge.  She is a Visiting Professor of Law at University College London and draws on her academic experience to deploy novel legal arguments in Court.


Practice Areas:

  • Planning Environment and Property
  • Energy and Natural Resources
  • Administrative and Public
  • Information Rights


  • Energy
  • Infrastructure

Practice Areas:

Major work

HS2: Instructed by Government to advise and represent HS2 before the House of Lords Select Committee, hearing petitions against Phase 1 of the proposed route from London to Birmingham.

Hinkley Point C: Instructed by EDF to advise on environmental aspects in the grant of a development consent order for the power station.

Crossrail 2: instructed by the Department for Transport to advise on strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment.

Sellafield New Nuclear Power Station: instructed by the developer to advise on nuclear planning policy.

Cross border undersea cable for transmission of electricity between England and France: Instructed by Herbert Smith to advise on environmental impact assessment.

Sensitive Cabinet correspondence on energy policy: Instructed by Department for Energy and Climate Change to resist disclosure of Cabinet correspondence. Upper Tribunal and First Tier Tribunal hearings.

Bilingual trial for environmental damage in South America: Counsel in a four month trial over environmental damage in Colombia.  Simultaneous English/Spanish translation during the Trial. Use of document management software (Opus2 Magnum Cloud technology) (Counsel for Colombian farmers).

High profile settlement in oil spill claim: Counsel in claim by 15,000 Nigerians for major oil spill in Nigeria.   Claim settled for £55 million following a preliminary legal issues trial in the Technology and Construction Court (Counsel for Nigerian villagers).

Court of Appeal advocacy: Counsel in Court of Appeal hearings on novel points on law in relation to environmental impact assessment and traveller planning policy.

United Utilities: Instructed by United Utilities in test case appeals in relation to combined sewer overflows and the Bathing Water and Urban Waste Water Treatment Directives.

Infraction proceedings: Instructed by Defra in relation to infraction proceedings by European Commission for breaches of Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

Water abstracting licencing:   High profile inquiry into refusal of abstraction licences.   Conflict between farming and habitat interests.


“She is very sought after”  (Chambers & Partners)

Sources describe Justine Thornton as “exceptional” in terms of her “clarity of advice” and also single her out for her “excellent grasp of legal and tactical issues”   (Chambers & Partners)

“A great advocate with a fierce intellect.”  (Chambers & Partners)

She has a fantastically charming and engaging advocacy style”  (Chambers & Partners)

Her client skills are phenomenal; she is very calm, focused and knowledgeable, and instantly instils confidence.”   (Chambers & Partners)

Her courtroom manner is terrific and she is dedicated, hard working and cheerful in her approach” (Chambers & Partners)

She is on top of everything and pleasant to deal with providing excellent judgement and a good rapport with clients” (Legal 500)

“Excellent with clients even when faced with a large number of individual claimants in the context of a group action.”  (Legal 500)

A team player, who is quick to grasp the key points and assimilate complex and dense material” (Legal 500)

She gets very complex sets of facts over to the Judge very effectively” (Chambers & Partners)

“A safe pair of hands who gives pragmatic advice”  (Chambers & Partners)

Extremely bright, hardworking, and knowledgeable” (Legal 500)

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

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