"She is hugely impressive, able to comprehend enormous amount of technical detail and her cross-examination style is effective, thorough and forensic." Chambers and Partners 2022
Kate has a broad practice which combines both public and commercial law. She is one of the lead counsel on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and has taken a principal role in all construction and technical aspects of the inquiry’s work. She is a former member of the Attorney General’s A-Panel of Counsel and appears on behalf of central government in high-profile public law proceedings with particular emphasis on national security, human rights, terrorism, prisons and immigration law. Her practice also includes substantial and complex litigation, arbitrations or mediations arising out of large-scale commercial, construction and engineering, insurance and professional negligence disputes. The nature of her practice means that she has particular experience of advising on the interface between public and commercial law issues.
Kate was appointed a deputy High Court judge in 2019.
Areas of expertise
“Balanced, sensible and extremely capable opponent, with a strong sense of fairness.” The Legal 500 2022
Kate has been involved in a number of substantial and complex cases and the majority of her practice in this area has arisen out of large construction and engineering, commercial, insurance and professional negligence disputes. She is best known for her role in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry where her performance in questioning witnesses has attracted considerable praise from commentators and from the victims of the fire. She has examined key witnesses including the lead architect and fire engineer, key personnel from the cladding contractor, witnesses for the cladding manufacturers and regulators.
Cases of note
- Advising and acting on behalf of a local authority in Technology and Construction Court (TCC) proceedings in relation to various multi-million pound construction disputes under private finance initiative (PFI) contracts relating to the Building Schools for the Future Programme.
- A multi-million pound TCC action involving defects in an academy school, including defective roof overhangs.
- A multi-million pound dispute involving cladding/curtain walling.
- A multi-million pound asbestos pollution case involving complex issues of causation.
- Two substantial arbitrations regarding open-cast mining operations in the South Wales coalfields.
- Skanska Construction UK Ltd v Egger (Barony) Ltd  EWCA Civ 501
- A successful appeal to the Court of Appeal on the proper construction of an insurance clause in a design and build contract.
Kate has a broad commercial practice with particular emphasis on insurance, professional negligence and public sector contracts. Her expertise in commercial and public law makes her particularly well placed to advise on the interplay between public and commercial law. She is sensitive to the commercial objectives of private clients and also has an excellent understanding of governmental and regulatory decision-making processes.
Cases of note
- A multi-million pound dispute between a rolling stock manufacturer and a government-owned company over the performance of trains and the consequent liabilities arising under three separate deeds of indemnity.
- Acting on behalf of a local authority in a series of adjudications concerning PFI contracts relating to the refurbishment and subsequent management and maintenance of sheltered and warden supported housing.
- Her appointment as part of the legal team in the retrial of the Co-op v ICL matter concerning the roll out of computer equipment and software across Co-Op stores.
Administrative and Public Law
"Trusted by the government to handle the most difficult security cases. She is a very good advocate." Chambers and Partners 2022
She has particular expertise in national security, human rights, immigration, terrorism, inquiries and prisons and also undertakes local government and education work. She is frequently instructed by the Government in significant judicial review challenges and has undertaken extensive work in the national security sphere. She is a contributor to Ward and Jones on National Security where she co-authored chapters on public interest immunity (PII) and closed material procedures.
Cases of note
Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal  AC 491 - Acted for the government in this seminal Supreme Court decision about ouster clauses in which the court considered whether the Investigatory Powers Tribunal was amenable to judicial review.
Khaled v Security Service  EWHC 1727 (QB) - Application of the Justice and Security Act 2013 in civil damages claim involving asset freezing proceedings.
AF (No. 3)  3 WLR 74) - Kate has acted in a number of high profile control order/terrorism prevention and investigation measures (TPIMs) cases including this House of Lords decision which considered the fairness requirements of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Hashi v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1136 - Deprivation of nationality of suspected Somali terrorist including consideration of test for statelessness and consideration of Somali law.
Spencer & Geller v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 45 - Successful defence of exclusion of controversial “Islamaphobic” US writers.
MA (Somalia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 48 - Successful appeal for the Secretary of State regarding deportation of a foreign criminal convicted of rape.
Badger Trust v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs  Env LR 12 - Advising and representing DEFRA in relation to the badger cull.
Damages Claims Against Public Authorities
Kate has extensive of damages claims against public bodies, including misfeasance claims and claims under the Human Rights Act (HRA). Her more high-profile cases have included:
- Cox v Ministry of Justice  2 WLR 806 – Supreme Court decision on the circumstances in which the prison service will be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of prisoners
- Kamoka v Security Service  EWHC 769 (QB) – Lead junior in a series of tort claims by Libyan nationals against the intelligence agencies alleging false imprisonment, misfeasance and conspiracy to injure, as well as HRA damages.
Inquiries and Investigations
“She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues and she is fantastic to work with.” Chambers and Partners 2022
Kate was appointed one of the lead counsel to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in July 2017 and her performance in questioning witnesses has attracted considerable praise from commentators and from the victims of the fire. Her examination is featured in the ‘Value Engineering’ play (edited by Richard Norton-Taylor and directed by Nicholas Kent), which ran in theatres in late 2021. She has been praised for her meticulous grasp of detail, her incisive questioning and also her humanity and compassionate approach with victims and vulnerable witnesses.
Kate also has extensive experience of challenges to inquiries and investigations. She was heavily involved in the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry and advised the Chilcot Inquiry and has appeared in significant judicial reviews relating to the state’s duty of investigation under the ECHR.
She also appeared in several major challenges in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal following the Edward Snowden allegations and has defended the security and intelligence agencies in a number of high-profile cases:
- Al-Saadoon v Secretary of State for Defence  1 WLR 3625 – Advising and acting for the MOD in relation to the Iraq Fatality Inquiries.
- Ali Zaki Mousa v Secretary of State for Defence  HRLR 6,  HRLR 32,  Inquest LR 122 – Various challenges to refusal to hold a public inquiry into abuses by British soldiers in Iraq.
- Extensive involvement in the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry, advising and acting for the inquiry on all relevant aspects of public law and successfully defending the inquiry in three separate judicial review challenges in the Northern Irish courts.
- Belhaj v Security Service IPT/13/132-9/H – Challenge to the regime governing the interception of communications attracting legal professional privilege.
- Lucas v Security Service  UKIPTrib 14_79-CH – “Wilson Doctrine”, i.e. whether the agencies had broken a former prime minister’s promise to parliament that MPs’ communications would not be intercepted.
- Privacy International & Greennet  UKIP Trib 14_85-CH – Challenge to GCHQ’s ‘computer hacking’ activities in which the tribunal upheld the lawfulness of the domestic legal regime.
- Human Rights Watch v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs  UKIPTrib15_165-CH – Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled on whether it should entertain the complaints of hundreds of parties who had expressed a belief that their communications had been intercepted by the UK intelligence services and that they may have been subject to the sharing of intelligence between the US and UK authorities.
“Kate is just excellent in everything she does.” The Legal 500 2021
“She carries out an extremely thorough, effective and forensic examination of key witnesses in a calm and unflappable way.” The Legal 500 2021
“Balanced, sensible and extremely capable opponent, with a strong sense of fairness.” The Legal 500 2021
“She shows an excellent and in-depth understanding of the technical issues.” Chambers and Partners 2021
“She’s a totally reliable and amazingly supportive person to work with and is immensely popular with the judges.” “She’s very clever, and has a common-sense grounding and approach to cases and works very hard at them.” “An extremely sensible and pragmatic lawyer with a good balance in terms of knowing how far to push things.” Chambers and Partners 2020
“She shows an excellent and in-depth understanding of the technical issues.” Chambers and Partners 2020
“A superb team player, she maintains her cool even under the most intense pressure.” The Legal 500 2019
“Incredibly lucid, with an unerring ability to identify and distill the key points.” The Legal 500 2019