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Kirsty Brimelow QC, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Kirsty Brimelow QC

Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers

London, United Kingdom

About Me

Kirsty specialises in international human rights, criminal law, public international, constitutional and international criminal law. She is instructed in the most serious, complex and prominent cases nationally and internationally. Kirsty is an experienced trial barrister. She has defended defendants and acted for Claimants as a junior and then as Queen’s Counsel before the Criminal and Civil courts respectively, in England and Wales, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, Courts Martial and Courts of Appeal in the Caribbean, the Court of Appeal in the British Virgin Islands, the European Court of Human Rights and the High Court in Gibraltar. Kirsty frequently advises before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the ECOWAS court in Abuja Nigeria, the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, the Superior Tribunal of Santander Colombia, the Supreme Court and Constitutional Courts of Colombia and the UN judicial processes and International Criminal Court.

Kirsty defended in the first murder case in the UK where the defence was heard "in camera" on grounds of national security. She was leading counsel defending in the first "juryless trial" in England and Wales. In 2014, she successfully judicially reviewed a decision by the DPP that  Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain was protected from prosecution for alleged torture by state immunity. She represented Amnesty International before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in its complaint that the data collection programmes Prism, Upstream and Tempora – as revealed by the U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden – were in breach of Articles 8, 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Kirsty has represented the Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago and the Chief Justice of Gibraltar. She represented former President of the Maldives between 2012-2015. In 2010 she was appointed by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as Counsel to a Commission of Inquiry into international fraud. The Chief Justice of New South Wales was appointed Commissioner. In 2012 she was appointed legal advisor to the Constitution Commission of Fiji.

In 2013 Kirsty defended the first out of twenty four defendants at the Old Bailey London in the largest fraud case of its kind. In 2014 and 2015 she defended the first defendant in two 3 month immigration fraud trials. In 2013 she defended in a Trident 3 month murder trial at the Old Bailey, London. She is an experienced appeal advocate and successful where leave has been refused. In 2012 she, together with Edward Fitzgerald QC, was successful in appealing the rape convictions of former politician Andre Penn (British Virgin Islands). In 2013, Kirsty presented an Amicus in the case of David Ravelo Crespo to Magistrado Juan Rodriguez, Santander, Colombia. This was the first international intervention at this level of Tribunal. Currently she is leading a team of lawyers representing Serbian Claimants before the High Court over a claim against the Ministry of Defence arising out of the bombing of Kosovo in 1999.

Kirsty first led other counsel in 1999 and maintained this level of practice so as to be appointed Queen's Counsel in 2011. In 2012 she was elected Chairwoman of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales. She is the first female Chairman. Kirsty has carried out international trial observations, worked on death penalty cases from within Jamaica and is an experienced teacher and trainer in advocacy, international human rights law, interviewing vulnerable witnesses and case management.  In 2009, she led a delegation of UK barristers in providing human rights law training in Colombia. Between 2011 and 2014, she led 6 training delegations of UNICEF's Child Protection Networks in Nigeria and the National Human Rights Commission in child rights and case management, having compiled the programmes after leading two fact finding missions in Nigeria. Currently, she is training Judges in Nigeria in Child Rights as a legal Consultant to Unicef.

Kirsty was twice listed in Management Today's most influential 35 women under 35 (2003 and 2005). She was appointed a spokesperson for the Bar Council between 1998 - 2008 and remains a regular legal commentator in the media. Her hundreds of television and radio appearances include: Newsnight, Panorama, Dispatches, Law in Action, File on Four, Today programme, breakfast television and news programmes. She has made one television show "You be the judge" (2005).

Kirsty was a member of the inaugural Times Law Panel from 2007 -2009 (classified as being one of the "Top 100 Lawyers") and nominated as The Times "Lawyer of the Week". She is sought after by the Bar Council and Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales to advise upon government consultation documents, Bills and other legislative measures. In 2012 she was appointed leader of a working group to draft the Criminal Bar Association's Response to the Law Commission's Consultation on Contempt of Court. In 2013 Kirsty was appointed by the Criminal Bar Association to draft the response to the DPP's proposed Social Media Guidelines. In 2014 Kirsty was part of the team submitting proposals to the Home Affairs Committee to combat Female Genital Mutilation, please see here. These proposals were adopted and passed into legislation. She continued to advise cross-party peers and ministers. In 2014 Kirsty led a team of barristers taking witness statements from complainants of sexual violence in Sri Lanka post conflict. She presented the report at the UN and launched it at the Canadian embassy in London.

Kirsty Brimelow QC discusses whether trial by jury is the best option on the BBC.

For queries in relation to instructing Kirsty Brimelow QC please contact Richard Vile for Crime queries and Sian Wilkins for Civil, Human Rights and International queries on +44 (0)20 7404 1313.


Kirsty is an accredited mediator and often works in conflict resolution. In 2013 she facilitated an apology from the President of Colombia to the peace community of San José de Apartadó. The public apology was issued by President Santos on 10 December 2013. It was described as a “historic” moment in Colombia’s history. Kirsty continues to mediate between State and peace community in Colombia, supported by the British Embassy.

Kirsty interviewed by BBC World Service on her work mediating between San José de Apartadó comunidad de paz and the Colombian government.

What the directories say

Kirsty has again been recommended as a leading QC in the Legal 500 2019 and in Chambers and Partners 2019. She has been recommended in each directory since becoming a QC. Previously, she was recommended as a junior (each year for 15 years in Chambers and Partners).

“Her work ranges from novel domestic law points to international issues.”  (Legal 500 2016).

“Effective at cross-examination” ( Legal 500 2015).

Judicial praise includes “cogent and persuasive submissions” (Dyson LJ).

Plaudits by solicitors include:  “always in the big cases" and "the best closing speech I have ever seen".

Joshua Rozenberg QC (hons): selected Kirsty as one of the “noteworthy” QCs (2011) - read more in The Guardian.

She is recognized as one of the “top names” by The Times law editor Frances Gibb (2015) - read more in The Times.

“Kirsty Brimelow is a superstar. She’s very good and very charming.” (Chambers and Partners 2016)

“She nailed the case. She was absolutely astonishing. Clients loved her, and she absolutely

nailed it.” (Chambers and Partners 2016)

“I’ve been very impressed with her. I enjoy working with her.” (Chambers and Partners 2016)

“She is an outstanding jury advocate and human rights lawyer, known for her thorough

preparation.” (Chambers and Partners 2016)

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