Iain Steele

Called to Bar:
Practice areas:
MA (Cantab) (Law) First Class, BCL (Oxon) First Class, (Princess Royal Scholar, Inner Temple)

Iain is ranked as a leading junior in the Civil Liberties & Human Rights area by both of the leading independent directories Legal 500 2013 and Chambers UK 2014.  The latter reports that “He is very diligent, very hard-working, and very precise.” … “He covers things comprehensively but concisely and has a good feel for the strengths of a claim."    Previously it has been said of Iain that “his drafts are better than a polished production from many a more experienced barrister” and he was acclaimed as “stunningly good for one of his level of call”.   In Legal 500 2012, Iain is regarded as “a real asset to any legal team”.

Professional Experience

Junior Counsel to the Crown (B Panel)

Public Law and Human Rights

Iain has developed a wide-ranging public law and human rights practice, building upon his substantial academic involvement in this area. He advises and acts in areas including police powers, local government, education, prisoners’ rights, public procurement, social security and community care, commercial judicial review and environmental law.

Current and recent work


Administrative Law

Iain has extensive experience of representing both claimants and defendants in the Administrative Court. Notable cases (in addition to those featured in other sections below) include:

  • R (Nash) v Barnet LBC [2013] EWHC 1067 (Admin)
    Iain is acting for Barnet LBC in defending a challenge to its decision to outsource certain services to private contractors. The case raises interesting issues regarding delay and consultation. The claimant’s appeal will be heard by the Court of Appeal in July 2013.
  • R (Flatley) v Hywel Dda Local Health Board (ongoing)
    Iain is acting for the Board in judicial review proceedings concerning emergency care provision at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli.
  • R (Rippington) v The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd (2013)
    Iain acted for LOCOG in a claim raising issues of whether it performs public functions under the Equality Act 2010 and, if so, what is required by the public sector equality duty.
  • R (Brown) v Canal & River Trust [2012] EWHC 3133 (Admin)
    Iain acted for the CRT in successfully resisting a judicial review challenge to guidance that addresses the issue of when its waterways can be used without having to purchase a home mooring.
  • R (Cart) v Upper Tribunal; R (MR) v Upper Tribunal [2011] UKSC 28, [2012] 1 AC 663; Eba v Advocate General for Scotland [2011] UKSC 29, [2012] 1 AC 710
    Iain acted for JUSTICE in its intervention in these appeals concerning the scope of judicial review by the High Court or the Scottish Court of Session of unappealable decisions of the Upper Tribunal.
  • R (One Search Direct) v City of York Council [2010] EWHC 590 (Admin), [2010] ACD 60
    Iain acted for the claimant in this test case on the powers of local authorities to charge for access to property information.
  • R (Faithfull) v Ipswich Crown Court [2007] EWHC 2763 (Admin), [2008] 1 WLR 1636
    Iain represented the claimant in a judicial review of the Crown Court’s failure to make a compensation order in favour of the victim of crime.

Human Rights

Iain has acted in many human rights matters (see also the police powers and foreign and defence policy sections below). Recent interesting cases include:

  • Van Colle v United Kingdom (2013) 56 EHRR 23
    Iain acted for the applicants before the European Court of Human Rights in a case concerning the scope of the positive obligation to protect life under Article 2 ECHR. Iain previously appeared in the domestic proceedings: Van Colle v Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Police [2008] UKHL 50, [2009] 1 AC 225.
  • R (Sinclair Collis Ltd) v Secretary of State for Health [2011] EWCA Civ 437, [2012] QB 394
    Iain acted for an Interested Party in a challenge to the ban on selling cigarettes through vending machines, based on Article 34 TFEU (free movement of goods) and Article 1 of Protocol No.1 to the ECHR (right to property).
  • Ahmed and others v Her Majesty’s Treasury [2010] UKSC 2, [2010] 2 AC 534
    Iain acted for JUSTICE in its intervention in the first appeals heard by the UK Supreme Court, successfully arguing that two Orders in Council which provided for the freezing of alleged terrorists’ assets should be quashed.
  • R (SRM Global Master Fund LP and others) v HM Treasury [2009] EWCA Civ 788
    Iain acted for the former shareholders of Northern Rock in their judicial review challenge to legislation which nationalised the bank without paying them compensation. Iain also acted for the shareholders in the European Court of Human Rights: Grainger and others v United Kingdom (2012) 55 EHRR SE13.
  • YL v Birmingham City Council and others [2007] UKHL 27, [2008] 1 AC 95
    Iain acted for Liberty, JUSTICE and the British Institute of Human Rights in the leading case on the definition of “public authority” under the Human Rights Act 1998.

Police Powers

Iain has a particular interest in cases concerning police powers and the right to protest. Notable cases include:

  • R (Mengesha) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2013] EWHC 1695 (Admin)
    Iain acted for the claimant in this successful challenge to police action at a demonstration in London in November 2011. The Court’s judgment makes clear that police powers to prevent a breach of the peace cannot be used for other purposes such as data gathering. 
  • Austin and others v United Kingdom (2012) 55 EHRR 14
    Iain acted for the applicants in this case before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the compatibility with Article 5 ECHR of “kettling” of protestors and others by the police at the May Day 2001 demonstration in Oxford Circus. 
  • R (McClure and Moos) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2012] EWCA Civ 12
    Iain acted for the claimants in a high-profile judicial review challenge to the policing of the Climate Camp demonstration held during the G20 summit in London in April 2009, raising issues of whether the police containment (or “kettling”) of the Climate Camp and associated use of force were unlawful.
  • R (Erenbilge) v Independent Police Complaints Commission [2013] EWHC 1397 (Admin)
    Iain acted for the IPCC in a challenge to a decision relating to alleged excessive use of force by arresting officers.
  • R (Morrison) v Independent Police Complaints Commission [2009] EWHC 2589 (Admin)
    Iain acted for the IPCC in this important judicial review claim raising issues concerning the investigative duty under Article 3 ECHR.

Foreign and Defence Policy

  • Smith and others v Ministry of Defence [2013] UKSC 41
    Iain acted for JUSTICE in its intervention in the latest case to consider the extra-territorial application of the ECHR as regards British soldiers on duty abroad, successfully arguing that the English courts should adopt a wider approach following the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Al-Skeini v United Kingdom
  • R (Alaa’ Nassif Jassim al Bazzouni) v Prime Minister and others [2011] EWHC 2401 (Admin), [2012] 1 WLR 1389
    Iain acted for the claimant in a successful challenge to Government guidance which unlawfully authorised UK personnel to condone the use of hooding by foreign states where deemed necessary for security reasons during arrest and transit.
  • Al-Jedda v United Kingdom (2011) 53 EHRR 23
    Iain acted for Liberty and JUSTICE in this case before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the interplay between the ECHR and other international law obligations.

Regulatory and Commercial

Iain regularly acts and advises in regulatory and commercial matters raising public law issues. He has acted for Ofcom, the General Medical Council and the Solicitors Regulation Authority in defending numerous judicial review challenges to their regulatory actions and is currently advising Ofgem in relation to its wide-ranging review of the energy retail market. He has also advised other regulators including Monitor, the Office of Fair Trading and the Financial Services Authority.

Notable cases in this area include:

  • R (Satellite Entertainment Limited) v Office of Communications (Court of Appeal, July 2013)
    Iain is acting for Ofcom in a judicial review challenge to its decision to impose a £130,000 fine on a broadcaster for breaching the regulatory code of conduct. The case raised issues concerning apparent bias and Article 1 of Protocol No.1 to the ECHR.
  • R (Cordant Group plc) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills [2010] EWHC 3442 (Admin)
    Iain acted for the claimant in this judicial review of a decision to exclude travel and subsistence expenses when assessing compliance with the national minimum wage.
  • R (Welsh Water Limited) v Ofwat [2009] EWHC 3493 (Admin)
    This was a judicial review of Ofwat’s decision to appoint another company to be the water and sewerage undertaker at a particular site. Iain acted for the claimant.


Iain’s practice encompasses all areas of employment law, including unfair and wrongful dismissal, unlawful deductions from wages and contractual matters. He regularly advises and represents both claimants and respondents in employment tribunal proceedings.

Iain has a particular interest in discrimination law and regularly appears in cases involving sex, race, age, disability, sexual orientation and religious discrimination.

Current and recent work

  • USDAW v Woolworths and Ethel Austin (Employment Appeal Tribunal, May 2013)
    Iain represented the union in this important challenge to the compatibility of UK domestic legislation with the Collective Redundancies Directive. The EAT accepted the union’s argument that it was necessary to disapply the words “at one establishment” in section 188 of TULRCA so that the statutory duty to consult applies whenever an employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees within a period of 90 days or less, regardless of the particular establishments at which they work.
  • North v Dumfries & Galloway Council [2013] UKSC 45
    Iain acted for 251 women who brought equal pay claims seeking to compare their pay to that of men employed by the same local authority at different establishments. The Supreme Court upheld the claimants’ appeal, holding that they were entitled to rely on their chosen comparators under the Equal Pay Act 1970, properly construed, and that in any event that Act must be read as permitting the comparison by virtue of directly applicable EU law.
    Iain also represented women who had succeeded in a similar claim against another local authority in resisting an appeal to the Supreme Court in the case of City of Edinburgh v Wilkinson [2011] CSIH 70. The case settled before the hearing. 
  • Aitchison v South Ayrshire Council (Supreme Court, 2013)
    Iain acted for the claimants in resisting an appeal to the Supreme Court by the Council which concerned the proper construction and application of the statutory grievance procedure. The case settled shortly before the hearing.
  • Hibbert v Apple Europe Limited (Appeal No UKEAT/0134/11, decision of 24 January 2012)
    This was an appeal against a tribunal’s decision to proceed with a trial in the claimant’s absence.
  • Bainbridge v Redcar and Cleveland BC; Surtees v Middlesbrough BC [2008] EWCA Civ 885, [2009] ICR 133
    Iain acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in its intervention in one of the most significant equal pay cases for several years.
  • May v Invivodata
    Iain acted for the respondent in a three day trial, successfully defending whistleblowing claims.
  • Richards v Nationwide Building Society
    Iain successfully defended a claim for age discrimination following an unsuccessful job application.
  • Nassar v Notz Stucki and another
    Iain represented the respondents in a high-profile four day trial on claims of unfair dismissal and sexual harassment valued at over £500,000.

Professional disciplinary proceedings:

  • Iain advises and acts for parties in disciplinary proceedings in a variety of tribunals, including police officers and teachers.

EU and Competition

Iain is regularly engaged in EU and competition law matters, in both commercial and regulatory contexts. He has acted for and advised numerous regulators including Ofgem, Ofcom, the Office of Fair Trading and Monitor. See further “Regulatory and Commercial” under Public Law, above.

Current and recent work

  • HMRC v Aimia Coalition Loyalty UK Limited (No.2) [2013] UKSC 42
    Iain was instructed with Lord Pannick QC to act for Aimia in resisting HMRC’s argument, following the Supreme Court’s first judgment in this matter, that there should be a second reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Supreme Court accepted Aimia’s submission that a second reference was not required or justified. 
  • R (Sinclair Collis Ltd) v Secretary of State for Health [2011] EWCA Civ 437, [2012] QB 394
    Iain acted for an Interested Party in a challenge to the ban on selling cigarettes through vending machines, based on Article 34 TFEU (free movement of goods) and Article 1 of the First Protocol to the ECHR (right to property).


Iain has broad experience of commercial litigation, including areas such as civil fraud, financial services and entertainment law. He regularly advises and acts in disputes involving negligence, breach of contract and restitutionary remedies in a wide range of commercial settings.

Current and recent work

  • Iain recently acted for a Government Department in high value litigation against a former contractor.
  • Lombard North Central plc v Hill
    Iain successfully obtained strike out and summary judgment on claims worth over £250,000 for sums due under an aircraft mortgage, and successfully resisted a proposed appeal.
  • Lucas v Financial Services Authority
    Iain acted for the FSA in successfully obtaining strike out and summary judgment on various claims, including on the basis that it was an abuse of process for the claimant to seek an adjudication on the validity of the FSA’s public law decision to cancel his permission other than on a reference to the Upper Tribunal.
  • Pierce v Financial Services Authority and others
    Iain acted for the FSA in successfully obtaining strike out and summary judgment on various claims brought against the FSA and the claimant’s former financial advisors.
  • Caparo Industries plc and Caparo Vehicle Techologies Ltd v Gordon Murray Design Limited
    Iain acted in a Chancery Division action concerning disputes arising out of a car design project.
  • Dextra Solutions Ltd v Nsquared Creations Ltd and another
    Iain successfully represented the claimant in a number of claims arising from a mobile phone distribution agreement.
  • CBR (Wakefield) Limited and others v Puccino’s Limited
    Iain appeared in a very substantial High Court action arising out of a large-scale construction and franchising project, which raised issues including estoppel, waiver, variation of contractual terms, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and conspiracy (settled during six-week trial).


Iain has appeared and advised in a number of sports cases covering a range of contractual and regulatory sporting disputes, and has also advised on the exploitation of media rights to sporting events.

Current and recent work

  • BBC Worldwide v UK Athletics
    Iain acted for UK Athletics in a dispute concerning the international broadcast rights to athletics events held in the UK.
  • Iain has advised The Football League on issues concerning club ownership and The League’s Fit and Proper Person test, in the wake of Silvio Briatore’s ban from Formula One by the FIA and questions as to the ownership of Notts County and Leeds United.
  • Iain advised The Football Association on a personal injury claim brought by a retired player.

Other relevant experience

Other legal experience:

Member of Lawyers for LIBERTY, ALBA, HRLA, ELBA and ELA. 

As a student, Iain gained considerable experience of mooting. He won two competitions at Cambridge and represented the University in the English Speaking Union national competition, reaching the semi-finals. During his year at Bar School, he was a finalist in the Inner Temple Lawson Mooting Competition. Iain has also judged moots.

After leaving university, Iain worked for a year as a Research Assistant in the Public Law Team at the Law Commission. He wrote a Discussion Paper on “Monetary Remedies in Public Law”, which was published by the Commission in 2004. It was later cited by Lord Bingham in the House of Lords in Watkins v Home Office [2006] UKHL 17, [2006] 2 AC 395. Iain’s work in this field provided the foundations for a full Law Commission project.

While at Bar School, Iain was a part-time tutor at King’s College, London, where he taught Public Law to undergraduates.

Scholarships and Prizes:

Iain’s academic scholarships and prizes include:

  • Eldon Law Scholarship (University of Oxford, 2005; awarded to the most promising Oxford graduate intending to practise at the Bar)
  • Overall grade of Outstanding and Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Prize for Civil Law and EC Competition Law (Inns of Court School of Law, 2005)
  • Prize for BVC Results (Inner Temple, 2005)
  • Princess Royal Scholarship (Inner Temple, 2004)
  • College Prize (Magdalen College, Oxford, 2003)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Board Award for Postgraduate Study (2002)
  • Lucas-Smith Memorial Prize (Queens’ College, Cambridge, 2002)
  • Foundation Scholarship (Queens’ College, Cambridge, 2001)
  • Squire Law Scholarship (University of Cambridge, 2000)
  • College Exhibition (Queens’ College, Cambridge, 2000)


Iain is the co-author of the chapter on equal pay in the Tolley’s Discrimination in Employment Handbook (first edition 2008; second edition 2011) and of the chapters on the Human Rights Act 1998 and principles of interpretation in Lester, Pannick and Herberg: Human Rights Law and Practice (published in April 2009).

Iain has published work in a wide range of academic journals.  Previous articles include:

  • ‘Judicial Review in an Age of Austerity: Costs and Funding’ [2012] JR 249 
  • 'Public Law Liability – the End of the Road (For Now)' (2011) 127 LQR 512
  • 'Sex discrimination and the material factor defence under the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Equality Act 2010’ [2010] ILJ 264
  • 'Judicial Review of the Crown Court and Section 29(3) of the Supreme Court Act 1981' [2008] JR 180
  • ‘Negligence Liability for Failing to Prevent Crime – the Human Rights Dimension’ [2008] CLJ 239
  • ‘Judicial Independence: Privy Council Divided’ (2008) 124 LQR 185
  • ‘Beyond Equal Pay?’ [2008] ILJ 119
  • ‘Substantive Legitimate Expectations: Striking the Right Balance?’ (2005) 121 LQR 300
  • ‘Tracing the Single Source: Choice of Comparators in Equal Pay Claims’ [2005] ILJ 338
  • ‘Public Law Liability – a Common Law Solution?’ [2005] CLJ 543
  • ‘Public Law Liability – the Human Rights Act and Beyond’ [2005] CLJ 8
  • ‘Note on R (National Association of Health Stores) v Department of Health’ [2005] JR 232
  • ‘Judging judicial inquiries’ [2004] PL 738

Other Information:

VAT registration number:  888124490