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Adam Wagner

Call: 2007


Adam specialises in public law, human rights and general civil law. He is described in Chambers and Partners 2015 as “a star in the making”. He has been appointed to the Attorney General’s preferred panel of barristers and is the founding editor of the acclaimed UK Human Rights Blog 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.

Public law and human rights

Adam is ranked as a leading junior by Chambers and Partners 2015 for civil liberties and human rights, where he is described as “strong on challenges to the circumstances of immigration and prison detention, as well as issues arising in the context of mental health… a star in the making… extraordinarily literate... has a great understanding of human rights issues”. 

He was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of preferred counsel in 2012 and acts regularly Judicial Review claims involving asylum, immigration, human rights, prisons and mental health law, on both sides.

Adam is currently instructed:

  • By Liberty on behalf of Helen Alder, whose brother Christopher's body was retained in a local mortuary for almost a decade without her knowledge
  • In a human rights claim by the partner of a man who committed suicide whilst detained in a psychiatric institution
  • By a long-term high-profile prisoner denied adequate healthcare

In 2014, Adam acted for a Grime rapper in a successful challenge to an attempt by the police to impose an Injunction to Prevent Gang Violence on him with reference to the lyrics of his online rapping (Calder v GMP).  He also successfully acted for the Legal Ombudsman in its first contested Judicial Review (Layard Horsfall Ltd v The Legal Ombudsman [2013] EWHC 4137 (QB)) and for the National Taxing Team in McEwan v National Taxing Team [2014] EWHC 2308 (Admin) (10 July 2014)

Adam has extensive experience of unlawful detention claims, both from a civil law damages and human rights perspective. He is currently acting 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 [2014] UKSC 33)

Public Inquiries

Adam 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 (ongoing)
• 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 and professors in a number of disputes against major universities, including Vaseghi v Brunel [2013]. He recently acted for 24 teachers on behalf of five teaching unions 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 (Mote & Ors v E Ivor Hughes Educational Foundation (Case 3303195/2013)). Adam also has experience of all types of discrimination and victimisation claims.

Healthcare law and inquests

Adam is recommended as a 'leading junior' by The Legal 500 in clinical negligence and healthcare law. He 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. Recent inquests include:

• Death of Robert Beal (death in prison by MDMA overdose);
• Death of Leonard Fitzer (death by head injury in hospital following fall);
• Death of William Atkinson (suicide in prison);
• Death of Jonathan Scott (death by cardiac arrest following admission to hospital).

General civil law

Adam is regularly instructed in a wide range of civil matters including commercial disputes and high-value personal injury claims. He is currently acting in a number of personal injury claims involving assaults on prisoners, including Belfield v MoJ (assault on high-profile murderer), Sahebzadeh v MoJ (stabbing of prisoner at Muslim prayer service) and Walters v MoJ (stabbing of prisoner whilst in shower).

Human Rights Commentary

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)

His 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.

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 is ranked in Chambers and Partners 2014 in the field of Civil Liberties and Human Rights and in the latest edition of Legal 500 for Clinical Negligence and Healthcare.


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) (articles here), The Times (articles here) the UK Human Rights Blog (articles here)

Significant cases include the following

Layard Horsfall Ltd v The Legal Ombudsman [2013] EWHC 4137 (QB)

McEwan v National Taxing Team [2014] 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 [2008] EWHC 2237 (QB), consent, and the failure to advise of the relative merits of two alternative procedures.

Other information

VAT Registration No:  976 4945 56


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020 7797 7500

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Adam Wagner successful in Grime Rap 'Gangbo' appeal
Human Rights Blog reaches final of the UK Blog Awards 2015
Adam Wagner obtains substantial settlement in clinical negligence claim
Adam Wagner commenting on BBC on the Prime Minister's Human Rights Announcements