bigstock-Human-rights small2-34716284Cloisters was founded on a commitment to civil liberties. It is the go-to set for ground-breaking equalities law work in litigation and in shaping the legislative structure. We have unrivalled expertise in dealing with difficult, novel issues in domestic and European law. 

Our innovative work has produced a formidable team of barristers who push the boundaries of human rights, civil liberties and equalities law, at every level of call, in the interests of our clients.

Many of our members work on “pure” human rights and public law matters, but human rights law remains also core to the collective expertise offered by our members in many of our other areas in which our members specialise including employment, personal injury, clinical negligence, discrimination, regulatory, sports and international law. 

Our barristers are dedicated to safeguarding the rights and interests of individuals, organisations and companies.

Our Services

Cloisters has an unrivalled reputation for fearless advocacy. Our members advise on information law, including data protection and confidentiality, Article 8 cases in a number of spheres as well as take on actions against the police prisoners’ rights cases. Our members are involved in Inquests, including developing Article 2 cases in this context. We lead the way on equality and discrimination with proven successes in many sectors such as: transport, education, sports, goods and services. There is a strong inter-disciplinary approach towards human rights and equality law across all our specialisms.

Our breadth of involvement includes:

  • Key roles in drafting human rights legislation and advisory codes.
  • Advising the Government and Equality and the Human Rights Commission (to whom a number of our members are standing counsel).
  • Publishing authoritative works.
  • Holding steering positions in human rights organisations.

Our notable cases and successes include:

  • The “Gay Cake” challenge in Northern Ireland (Gareth Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd  (09/05/2015).
  • A challenge to a public transport provider’s policy for wheelchair users. (FirstGroup Plc v Paulley).
  • A challenge to DWP's policy of indefinitely retaining historical gender data (Arts 8 & 14).
  • Domestic servitude and trafficking cases.
  • Works within the new Modern Slavery arena, using our interrelated talent of equality and labour law.
  • Litigating the first cases on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Cloisters’ barristers sit on the executive committees on the Bar Human Rights Committee, the Council for Justice and the Human Rights Lawyers Association.   Our members include a regular lecturer at the Academy of European Rights in Trier invited by the European Commission to host a work forum on disability rights in Brussels. Our members have worked on death penalty cases and ongoing international cases.

Many members work on international human rights training projects facilitating human rights training in Turkey, the Balkans, Egypt and Yemen under the auspices of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Foreign Office, the United Nations Development Programme and the Swedish Helsinki Committee.

Additional Services

Public Access: Many of our members are qualified Public Access barristers especially trained to work directly with members of the public.

Mediation: As well as outstanding advocacy, Cloisters’ barristers are excellent mediators. Our mediation team, led by the former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley, offers expert assistance in all forms of mediation at every level.

Training: We offer CPD-accredited training courses, workshops and seminar programmes. Cloisters’ training programmes are highly regarded and well attended. Members can deliver bespoke in-house training to law firms and professional bodies at their premises or at our Chambers.

If you are interested in discussing our training programmes or wish to subscribe to our free news alerts please email

View our Human Rights Barristers


Human Rights Blogs

04 April 2017
On 6 April 2017 Declan O’Dempsey will be at UNISON’s headquarters in Belfast addressing the Northern Ireland Council for Racial Equality’s Inaugural H...
30 March 2017
Cloisters: Equality and Human Rights in Practice by Martyn McLeish Recommended reading:  this article on George Osborne’s 2015 proposal. In ...
01 March 2017
Cloisters is proud to announce that Declan O’Dempsey of Cloisters has been awarded the contract to provide training to the Equality and Human Rights C...

Involved in both legislation and at an advisory level, we have appeared in high-level cases such as:

  • Preddy and Hall v Bull and Bull – whether Christian hoteliers could refuse double beds to gay couples.
  • Jivraj V Hashwani – whether employment discrimination legislation applied when choosing an arbitrator.
  • Tariq v Home Office – relating to the legality of closed hearings and the use of special advocates in employment claims where matters touching on national security are to be considered.