Julian Blake

Professional Summary

Called 2006

Contact Details

T +44 (0)20 7632 8500 Clerk Michael Smith Clerk Jaden Maloney E

Julian acts in a wide range of public law, media and information law and commercial law (sanctions and financial restrictions) fields. In the past 12 months he has acted in the largest ever sanctions challenge before the Commercial Court, defended a global technology company in a data breach case and acted for a party in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Julian is a member of the Attorney General’s B Panel of Treasury Counsel. With a background in criminal litigation, Julian is also often called upon to advise on issues relating to commercial crime and the criminal justice system.

He is recommended by the legal directories as a leading junior, with the most recent edition of Chambers and Partners describing him as “the most user-friendly barrister” and “extremely personable and great to work with”. The directories have consistently observed that he is able to “explain very complex areas of law in a very straightforward manner”, providing “clear, user-friendly advice”.

Specialisms

Public

Julian has a broad public law practice spanning the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. He has been involved in some of the most significant cases involving national security, international relations, and the armed forces.

Examples of his work in this field include:

  • Bank Mellat v Treasury – challenging financial restrictions against an Iranian Bank.
  • Serdar Mohammed v Ministry of Defence – detention of suspected Taliban commander in Afghanistan.
  • Rahmatullah v Ministry of Defence – transfer of a Pakistani national captured by British forces in Iraq.
  • Bancoult v Foreign and Commonwealth Office resettlement of the Chagos Islanders.

Media & Privacy

Julian has substantial experience in matters relating to the media, including contempt of court, data protection, privacy and information law. He regularly advises and appears on behalf of individuals, the government and corporations before the High Court, County Court and Tribunals.

Examples of his work in this field include:

  • Gubarev v Buzzfeed – letter of request in US defamation proceedings concerning publication of Christopher Steele’s “Trump dossier”.
  • David Miranda v Home Secretary – judicial review of the use of terrorism powers to seize journalistic material.
  • Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta – acting for a defendant media company in matters concerning the criminal investigation into phone hacking, corruption and misuse of private information.

See below for further information on Julian’s work in Information Law (covering the Data Protection Regulation, Data Protection Act 2018, and Freedom of Information Act 2000).

Information

Julian is an experienced practitioner in proceedings under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). He has appeared in several of the leading appeals before the Upper Tribunal and advises individuals, corporations and governments on information rights issues and disputes.

Examples of his work in this field include:

  • Re: A FTSE 100 Executive – Advising a prominent executive in relation to a claim under the DPA and the right to be forgotten in relation to Google search results. 
  • Re: A Subject Access Request – Advising a leading private client law firm on a complex DPA subject access request made by a longstanding client.
  • Re: A global technology company – Advising and making submissions to the ICO in respect of a Monetary Penalty Notice.
  • ICO v Woodgate & Clark Ltd – ICO prosecution for offences of unlawfully obtaining personal data.
  • All Party Parliamentary Group of Extraordinary Rendition v FCO – FOIA appeal about rendition and detention in Guantanamo Bay.
  • Savic v Attorney General and Cabinet Office – FOIA appeal about the Attorney General’s advice on military action in Kosovo.
  • Rights Watch UK v Attorney General and Cabinet Office – FOIA appeal about the deaths of two British nationals in a Syria drone strike.

Commercial

Julian’s commercial practice has a strong focus on sanctions, advising companies, individuals and governments on potential liabilities as well as challenges to listings and financial restrictions measures. He has been instructed for several years in the long running Bank Mellat litigation, including the $4bn damages claim in the Commercial Court.

In its recommendation, Chambers and Partners 2019 cites Julian’s work “in significant PIL cases including challenges against the imposition of financial sanctions”.

Because of Julian’s background in public international law he is also regularly called upon to act and advise in matters concerning the taking of evidence for use in foreign proceedings, including under the Hague Convention and the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions Act) 1975. This includes:

• Gubarev v Buzzfeed [2018] EWHC 1201 (QB) – Request by a Florida Court for the examination of Christopher Steele concerning the Trump Dossier.

• Lodestar v Bacardi – Request by a California Court for documentary evidence and examination of witnesses concerning a trademark dispute.

• Bank Mellat v HM Treasury – Requests under Council Regulation (EC) No.1206 (to a German Bank) and CPR Part 34.13 (to a Malaysian Bank).

Julian also regularly advises on matters concerning disclosure of commercially or legally sensitive material and has managed large disclosure exercises on behalf of corporate and government clients.

Julian is also experienced in sensitive corporate investigations. This includes being instructed for over 12 months by a multinational media company in relation to an internal investigation into allegations of interception of communications, corruption and misuse of private information. Julian’s criminal practice makes him well placed to advise on issues where both commercial and potential criminal liabilities overlap.

Corporate Crime & Criminal Justice

For the first few years of Julian’s career, he appeared regularly in the Crown Court, both prosecuting and defending. He has subsequently developed a niche criminal practice, concentrating on public law challenges to corporate criminal investigations, data protection offences and other complex matters relating to the criminal justice system.

Examples of his work in this filed include:

  • ICO v Woodgate & Clark Ltd – ICO prosecution for offences of unlawfully obtaining personal data.
  • R v Timothy Power – insider trading by an executive of Belgo Restaurants.
  • Revell Read v SFO – Britain’s biggest boiler room fraud.
  • Roberts v United Kingdom – ECHR challenge to jury impartiality.

Julian also acts in other matters relating to criminal justice more broadly, including inquests into the death of prisoners, challenges to prison categorisations and complex criminal appeals. He is an author of EU Law in Criminal Practice (Oxford University Press) and has acted as a practitioner editor of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice.

Inquests & Inquiries

Julian regularly acts in inquests and has a broad range of experience. He has acted as sole counsel for the Ministry of Justice in several inquests before juries concerning deaths in custody and for a Borough Council in an inquest into to the death of a child at school. He has also provided advice in connection with the well-known inquest into the death of Mark Duggan.

Julian also has significant experience of public inquiries, having acted or advised in the following matters:

  • The Detainee Inquiry (Sir Peter Gibson)
  • The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (Prof Alexis Jay)
  • The Grenfell Tower Inquiry (Sir Martin Moore-Bick)

Recommendations

“The most user-friendly barrister I’ve ever instructed. He completely understands clients’ concerns. He’s always one step ahead and can predict things that’ll come up.” (Chambers and Partners 2019)

“Extremely personable and great to work with” (Chambers and Partners 2019)

“He manages to explain very complex areas of law in a very straightforward manner. He manages to make even the most complex subjects sound straightforward. His advocacy is excellent. His biggest selling point is his manner and client care. He is very friendly, approachable and always goes over and beyond what you would expect.” (Chambers and Partners 2018)

“Really personable, really intelligent. Clear, user-friendly advice. He makes himself part of the team.” (Chambers and Partners 2017)

“Clients just love him. He works hard for them and understands their concerns and business. Lay clients also appreciate him because he is able to explain complex areas of law in an accessible manner.” (Chambers and Partners 2017)

“He is a very good lawyer, very quick, writes well and is good under pressure but has a joke when you need it.” (Chambers and Partners 2016)

“He has excellent people skills, is very good with clients and always one step ahead of everyone else.” (Chambers and Partners 2016)

Recent Cases

Gubarev & Others v Buzzfeed
[2018] EWHC 512 (QB)
Instructed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to intervene in the application made by Christopher Steele to set aside an order requesting that he give oral evidence pursuant to a letter of request from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case concerns defamation proceedings arising from the publication of the “Trump Dossier”.

R (on the application of AZ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department
[2017] EWCA Civ 35
Instructed in a challenge to the refusal of a refugee travel document following an assessment that the claimant would travel to Syria. The Court of Appeal recently handed down judgment supporting the Secretary of State’s decision not to disclose further information for reasons of national security.

Rahmatullah (No 2) v Ministry of Defence, Mohamed v Ministry of Defence
[2017] UKSC 1, [2017] 2 WLR 287
Instructed in the Supreme Court challenge concerned the nature and content of the doctrine of Crown act of state in the context of claims relating to detention in Iraq and Afghanistan. The appeal successfully upheld this defence, which had last been applied in the 19th Century.

Al Waheed v Ministry of Defence, Mohammed v Ministry of Defence [2017]
UKSC 2, [2017] 2 WLR 327
Instructed in the Supreme Court challenge concerning allegations that persons in Iraq and Afghanistan were unlawfully detained in breach of article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights by HM armed forces acting under mandates from the United Nations Security Council.

R (on the application of Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 4)
[2016] UKSC 35, SC, June 29 2016, [2016] 3 WLR 157
Instructed in the Supreme Court challenge. This case considered whether, and in what circumstances, the Supreme Court may set aside a previous decision of the House of Lords. The application concerned alleged material non-disclosure concerning the resettlement of the Chagossians.

R (on the application of Miranda) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis
[2016] EWCA Civ 6, CA, January 19 2016, Times, February 19 2016
Instructed in this well known challenge to the use of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000. The case concerns David Miranda, partner of Glen Greenwald who was detained in connection with the material taken by Edward Snowden.

Bank Mellat v HM Treasury
[2015] EWHC 1258 (Comm), [2015] EWCA Civ 1052, [2016] EWCA Civ 452
Instructed in both the application to set aside financial restriction decisions and the $4bn civil damages claim resulting from the earlier proceedings.

Roberts v United Kingdom
Application no. 59703/13, January 2016
Instructed as sole counsel in this challenge before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the farness of the domestic jury trial / selection system and compatibility with Article 6 ECHR.

News, Articles & Publications

Author, EU Law in Criminal Practice, OUP (2013)

Practitioner Editor, Blackstone’s Criminal Practice, OUP (2015)

Contributor, Miller on Contempt, OUP (2017)

Education

University of Cambridge, MA (Cantab)

Yale University, Fox International Fellowship

Other

Astbury Scholarship, Middle Temple

Lloyd Jacob Memorial Prize, Middle Temple

Prior to joining the Bar, Julian worked for the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative in Uganda, assisting offenders facing capital punishment.

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Professional title: Barrister

Full name (as registered with Bar Standards Board of England and Wales): Julian Blake

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