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Jocelyn Cockburn

Jocelyn Cockburn | Partner

jcockburn@hja.net 020 7874 8452

Legal 500 - Leading Individual 2015

I am joint Head of the Civil Liberties Team and also a member of the Military Claims Team. I am regarded as a leader and an expert in the fields of Civil Liberties and Actions Against the Police. I have a wealth of experience representing bereaved families at Inquests and civil claims arising out of deaths in custody.

In 2004 I brought a judicial review challenge on behalf of Neville Lawrence against the Director of Public Prosecutions for his decision not to prosecute anyone for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I have been representing Mr Lawrence ever since. The investigation into the death was reopened and in January 2012 two men were convicted of his murder. In summer 2013 allegations were made by an undercover police officer regarding surveillance of the Lawrence family in the aftermath of the murder. I am advising Mr Lawrence in relation to this and the ongoing corruption investigation.

I am instructed on a number of actions against the police. My current caseload includes an assault by the police on a young black man who was stopped and searched without due authority resulting in serious injury and distress, wrongful imprisonment and malicious prosecution. The claim raises serious issues of the use of racial stereotyping in police stop and search procedures. I also represent the family of Leon Briggs, who was restrained and taken in police custody under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. He died in police custody. Investigations into his death are ongoing but the case raises controversial issues relating to race, mental health and policing.

I have been instructed in several inquests and cases arising out of deaths of military personnel. I represented claimants in a major landmark case in June 2013 at the Supreme Court. This case; Smith & Ors v Ministry of Defence [2013 UKSC 41] allows families of soldiers killed in poorly armoured Snatch land rover vehicles in Iraq to bring their claims for damages under the Human Rights Act and in negligence. The case defines the legal obligations owed by the Government to soldiers killed and injured on active service abroad. This ruling established for the first time that the European Convention on Human Rights applies to soldiers on the battlefield.

I am currently representing several families whose loved ones have died in Colnbrook and Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centres. The cases involve breaches of Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Some of the allegations relate to failures to provide basic medical care and treatment. I have an expanding practice representing families whose loved ones have died in hospitals and care homes after receiving poor treatment or abuse.

I represented the family of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter. Fiona killed herself and her daughter by setting fire to the family car after years of anti-social abuse which the Leicestershire Police were aware of but failed to address. Some of my ongoing work relates to the duties on the State to protect vulnerable people in our society and hate crime policies.

In 2013 I was Highly Commended at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2013 under the category: Legal Personality of the Year 2013 and was listed in the Hot List 100. In 2012 I won The Lawyer’s “Partner of the Year Award”. Previously I had been presented with the Personal Injury Case of the Year 2010. I have also been shortlisted for the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards and the Liberty Human Rights Lawyer of the Year.

In 2015 I was recognised for my work in championing the rights of those in the armed forces and some of the most vulnerable in our society, in a unique photography exhibition at the Supreme Court which commemorated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Click here to read my Q&A on civil liberties and human rights.

Education

  • Northumbria University Law School 1992 – 1994
  • Newcastle University 1989 – 1992 (BA Hons)

Career

  • Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen, 2007
  • Joined Hodge Jones & Allen, 2004
  • Admitted to the Roll, January 1997
  • Trainee Solicitor, Druces & Attlee, 1994-1996

Client/Barrister comments

  • “Jocelyn’s compassion towards us at a time when many other people were dismissive made me and my family feel that someone understood and was willing to fight for us.” (Client)
  • “She is someone who refuses to bow down or to be intimidated by agents of the state. She is a modern day David who steps up to take on Goliath.” (Counsel)
  • “Jocelyn works tirelessly for her clients who have suffered great injustice at the hands of the state.” (Counsel)
  • “This case could not have been run without Jocelyn’s determination to see it through” (Counsel)

Professional directories

  • Chambers UK 2013 – “An amazing talent” and “is highly intelligent and totally committed to her clients” and “a real leader in her field, hard-working, perceptive and extremely committed”
  • Chambers 2014 – Builds “strong client relationships”
  • Chambers 2015 – “She’s very good with clients and extremely sensitive to the needs of the case and the bigger picture”
  • Chambers 2016 – “A true leader in her field who has huge knowledge and experience, an incisive tactical mind and outstanding client care.”
  • 2013 Legal 500 – “Fiercely determined and impressive litigator”
  • 2014 Legal 500 – “Leader in the field”
  • 2015 Legal 500 – Has an “incisive and tactical mind”

Membership & Appointments

  • The Police Action Lawyers Group
  • The Inquest Lawyers Group
  • Patron of the British Scoliosis Research Foundation