Adam specialises in public law, human rights and general civil law. In 2015 he was shortlisted for Human Rights Lawyer of the Year at the Liberty Awards. He has been appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General’s preferred panel of barristers.
He is well known for his human rights advocacy work. He founded both the acclaimed UK Human Rights Blog and RightsInfo and has been nominated for the Orwell Prize for his legal writing.
Before joining Chambers, Adam graduated from St Anne’s College, Oxford with a first class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and received an MA in Political Science from Columbia University. He also worked as the chair of a national youth organisation.
Adam is ranked as a leading junior in both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.
"A knowledgeable and recognised practitioner who comes recommended for his deep understanding of human rights issues. He has extensive experience of acting in significant cases, from unlawful detention claims to freedom of religion cases.” Chambers and Partners (2016)
‘An innovative and creative lawyer who spots points others might miss.’ Legal 500 (2015)
‘One of the most able public lawyers of his generation.’ Legal 500 (2015)
“a star in the making… strong on challenges to the circumstances of immigration and prison detention, as well as issues arising in the context of mental health… … extraordinarily literate... has a great understanding of human rights issues”. Chambers and Partners (2015)
Public Law and Human Rights
Adam is ranked as a leading junior in the latest editions of both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.
Adam was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of preferred counsel in 2012 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission B Panel of preferred counsel in 2015. He acts regularly Judicial Review claims involving asylum, immigration, human rights, prisons and mental health law, on both sides.
In 2015, Adam was shortlisted for Human Rights Lawyer of the Year at the Liberty Human Rights Awards.
- Junior Counsel for Ameen Jogee in the major Supreme Court challenge to the law of Joint Enterprise Murder. Adam made oral submission to the court on Article 7 ECHR (R v Jogee UKSC 2015/0015)
- Acted for Terence Calder in a key Court of Appeal decision on the powers and duties of the Secretary of State when recalling people to prison (Calder, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Justice  EWCA Civ 1050)
- Successfully acted for the Department of Health in a human rights challenge to the organ donation prioritisation rules (R(A) v Secretary of State for Health CO/4002/2015)
- Currently instructed by Liberty on behalf of Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher's body was retained in a local mortuary for almost a decade without her knowledge
- Acted in 2015 for a Grime rapper in a High Court appeal by the Greater Manchester Police, who sought to impose a gang injunction on him with reference to the lyrics of his online rapping (Chief Constable of Greater Manchester v Calder  EWHC B11 (QB)).
- Successfully acted for the Ministry of Justice in a human rights damages claim following the collapse of a 'caste discrimination’ employment tribunal (Begraj v Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 250 (QB))
- Successfully acted for the Secretary of State for the Home Department in a challenge to the application of the ‘Good Character’ requirements in a citizenship application (Lakaj, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 4273 (Admin))
- Acted for the Legal Ombudsman in its first contested Judicial Review (Layard Horsfall Ltd v The Legal Ombudsman  EWHC 4137 (QB)) and for the National Taxing Team in McEwan v National Taxing Team  EWHC 2308 (Admin)
Adam has extensive experience of unlawful detention claims, both from a civil law damages and human rights perspective. He is acting and has acted in a number of claims, including Sorinwa v SSHD (food and fluid refusal by immigration detainee), Zuk v Zuk (unlawful imprisonment for contempt), Musazai v SSHD (detention of child in the mistaken belief he was an adult) and Khazar v SSHD (inability to deport to Iraq due to local violence).
He also has a particular interest in cases involving religion and law, and assisted two of the respondents, instructed by Bindmans, in the Supreme Court case involving the justiciability of a dispute over who is the “successor” of a Sikh holy leader (Shergill & Ors v Khaira & Ors  UKSC 33)
Adam is ranked “Tier 2” for public inquiries and inquests in the latest edition of the Legal 500 directory. He has extensive experience in this area, having acted in three major public inquiries in the past four years:
- Baha Mousa Inquiry into the use of ‘stress’ and ‘conditioning’ techniques on detainees by the British military in Iraq
- Al-Sweady Inquiry into allegations of mistreatment and unlawful killing by the British military in Iraq
- Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust Inquiry: acted for the Department of Health in this major investigation into systemic failings in the NHS.
He also gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on the Standard of Reporting of Human Rights Law.
Employment Law and Discrimination
- Adam acts regularly for claimants and respondents in employment tribunals. He is developing an expertise in education-related matters, having acted for lecturers, professors and teachers, for example:
- Acted for 24 teachers in a successful claim for failure to consult and unfair dismissal relating to the closure of an independent school - leading to a damages award of over £150,000. He was recently successful when the case reached the Employment Appeal Tribunal (E Ivor Hughes Educational Foundation v Morris & Ors  UKEAT 0023_15_1906)
- Vaseghi v Brunel : acted for a professor at a major university in disciplinary and employment tribunal proceedings
- Successfully represented a blind disability officer in a discrimination claim (covered by the BBC).
Healthcare Law and Inquests
Adam acted for the Department of Health (led by Gerard Clarke and James Eadie QC) in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.
He regularly acts for claimants and defendants in high-value clinical negligence claims and on behalf of families and doctors at coroner’s inquests.
Human Rights Commentary
In 2015, Adam founded RightsInfo, which provides clear and reliable information about human rights law.
Adam is well known for his commentary on human rights and public law. He writes regularly on legal issues for The New Statesman, The Times and The Guardian. He founded and edits the UK’s leading legal blog, the UK Human Rights Blog, and has been interviewed on numerous occasions on BBC radio and TV. He has a wide following on social media, particularly Twitter (@adamwagner1).
Adam regularly lectures on human rights and public law to a range of audiences, including the Government Legal Services annual human rights training (for the last three years), the Justice Human Rights conference and solicitors, universities and non-governmental organisations.
Adam's focus is on improving public perception of human rights law, and he was asked to give evidence on this topic to the Leveson Inquiry (statement here), the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill. He also writes regularly on the impact of legal reforms on access to justice, and in March 2014 he gave evidence to the Parliamentary Public Bill Committee on the impact of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill on Judicial Review.
Bar Vocational Course (Very Competent),
BPP Inner Temple Major Scholarship
CPE Diploma in Law (Commendation), City University
Inner Temple Exhibition Scholarship
MA International Relations, Columbia University
MA (Oxon) Politics, Philosophy and Economics (First Class Hons.), St Anne College, Oxford University
Adam writes regularly on all aspects of human rights and public law in The New Statesman (read his articles here) guardian.co.uk (articles here), The Times (articles here) the UK Human Rights Blog (articles here)
Significant cases include the following
E Ivor Hughes Educational Foundation v Morris & Ors  UKEAT 0023_15_1906
Begraj v Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 250 (QB)
Lakaj, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 4273 (Admin)
Layard Horsfall Ltd v The Legal Ombudsman  EWHC 4137 (QB)
McEwan v National Taxing Team  EWHC 2308 (Admin) (10 July 2014)
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry
Inquest into the death of an 80 year old after an accidental overdose was administered.
Public Inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Baha Mousa
Al-Sweady Public Inquiry
Birch v University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 2237 (QB), consent, and the failure to advise of the relative merits of two alternative procedures.
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