Tom Cross is one of the leading juniors at the UK Bar. He is highly ranked by each of the principal legal directories in seven areas: Administrative & Public Law, Civil Liberties & Human Rights, Education, Professional Discipline, Local Government, Employment, and Data Protection.
Quotations provided to the 2023 directories say he is: “the best junior at the public law bar, without question”, “operating well beyond his call”, and “one of those juniors who’ll be a KC very soon”; “the one you want to go to is Tom Cross”.
He was nominated UK Public Law Junior of the Year 2022. He was previously UK Public Law Junior of the Year 2018 (Legal 500) and UK Employment Law Junior of the Year 2019 (Chambers & Partners).
His most recent instructions include matters as varied and high-profile as: Lucy Letby’s Article 6 claim to an additional legally aided advocate for her defence at her criminal trial; the lockdown judicial review (Dolan); advising on what constitutes non-discriminatory pornography in prisons; the dispute about Manchester United’s away supporter allowance at Stamford Bridge; the challenge to the Census 2021 guidance (Fair Play for Women); Charlie Hughes’ battle for medicinal cannabis on the NHS; the challenge to Bermuda’s prohibition of same-sex marriage (Ferguson); the claim by Sir Philip Rutnam against the Home Secretary; the claim by Deliveroo Riders to worker rights (IWGB); the dispute between Christ Church and its Dean; the Article 50 / Gina Miller litigation; the challenge to the Parole Board’s decision to release the “Black Cab Rapist” (DSD); the school sex segregation case (Al-Hijrah), representing Strictly Come Dancing Professional Kristina Rihanoff in pregnancy discrimination proceedings, and acting in claims concerning abortion rights, the crime of female genital mutilation, and the recovery of silver from a shipwreck which was sunk during World War Two in the Indian Ocean.
He acts for claimants, defendants, and other parties, principally in litigation. His private and public sector clients range from major companies to private individuals, UK and foreign governments, and regulatory bodies. He is Counsel to the Crown in civil cases (A Panel) and is one of the Counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Civil Liberties & Human Rights
“Exceptionally lucid in oral communication and written argument”, “highly collaborative and hardworking” and “liaising superbly with solicitors and lay client” (Legal 500, 2022), Tom acts in civil liberties and human rights cases for all parties in both the domestic and international courts. His recent work has involved, among other matters, prisons, parole, women’s rights, religious rights, abortion, disability rights, free speech, trans rights, immigration, privacy and reputation, collective bargaining, the right to education, deprivation of property, the right to liberty, fair trial rights, and torture.
Described as having “an encyclopaedic knowledge of education”, Tom is ranked in the Top Tier of juniors in the country (Legal 500, 2022). There is no aspect of education law, private or public, which he does not cover. He has been involved in many of the leading cases of the past decade. He acts for and advises all parties, including universities and other higher education providers, schools, local authorities, parents, children and young people, and interest groups. He is a co-author of the leading practitioner text, the Education Law Handbook (LexisNexis: 2021).
An Employment Law Junior of the Year (Chambers & Partners, 2019), Tom has consistently been recognised as one of the country’s leading juniors. He frequently appears in the Court of Appeal, EAT, High Court and ET, invariably in the more complex and higher value cases. His expertise includes all forms of discrimination, whistleblowing, wrongful dismissal, unfair dismissal, business protection claims, disciplinary hearings, and employment-related aspects of public and human rights law. He has particular expertise in the fields of religion and belief discrimination and free speech in the workplace.
Tom began his career as an environmental and planning barrister, at a chambers specialising purely in that field. Many of his administrative and international law cases still concern environmental issues, from Brooke Energy (heat and power plant tariffs), to Seiont Anglers Society (the scope of the Environmental Liability Directive), or from Friends of the Earth (Strategic Environmental Assessment) to Craven (environmental information). He is as much at home acting for public sector clients as for third sector organisations or individuals, including in public interest litigation.
Tom has undertaken licensing cases from his earliest days of practice. He now acts mainly in disputes concerning alcohol and entertainment licences (principally for premises), transport (including private hire vehicles and boats), and sport. Recently, with Philip Kolvin KC, he advised Covent Garden’s street performers on a proposal by Westminster City Council to criminalise their activity in London’s West End. Tom’s strength in licensing lies in his appreciation of the commercial underpinnings of the regulated, combined with a legal skill set embracing public, regulatory, and local authority law.
“An exceptionally talented and gifted barrister with an outstanding intellect and excellent client care skills” (Chambers & Partners, 2022), there is no issue affecting local government, contentious or otherwise, which Tom is unable to handle. Most recently he has advised and acted in cases concerning, among other things, care homes, cemeteries, community care, contracts, elections, finance, housing, investigations, procurement, social care (children and adult), and councillor standards. “His commitment to each case is second to none” (C&P, 2022).
Media & Privacy
“Very responsive”, “user-friendly”, “commercially sensible”, and “very pragmatic” (Chambers & Partners, 2022), Tom represents and advises media organisations, regulators, controllers, public authorities and individuals on a wide range of media and privacy matters, including data protection, freedom of information, misuse of private information, breach of confidence, Article 8 damages claims, Article 10 damages claims, applications for judicial review, injunctions, reporting restrictions, contempt of court, protection from harassment, and Norwich Pharmacal proceedings.
With particular experience in the medical, healthcare, legal, financial and sports sectors, Tom “clearly knows his stuff”, “is clear and effective when dealing directly with the client (even when asked to advise at short notice)”, and is “very hands on during the course of the matter” (Legal 500, 2022). His professional discipline practice principally comprises: (i) acting for either professionals or the regulator in high-stakes first instance proceedings; (ii) acting in appeals against sanctions decisions; (iii) acting in judicial reviews of regulators and (iv) conducting independent investigations.
Public and Regulatory
“The standout junior at the public law Bar” (Legal 500, 2022), and previously UK Public Law Junior of the Year, Tom’s work covers the entire field, from domestic administrative, constitutional, and regulatory disputes to proceedings in the Privy Council and the international courts. He is Counsel to the Crown (A Panel) and one of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Panel Counsel, but acts just as often for commercial or individual claimants and interested parties as he does for government. He has been involved in many of the most important public and regulatory cases of the past decade.
An established leading junior in employment, professional discipline, public and regulatory law, and human rights, with significant experience in retained EU and commercial law, Tom is placed perfectly to undertake both litigation and advice in the sports sector. He has acted for clubs, players, agents, professional associations, governing bodies and other regulators, and sporting charities. He takes a particular interest in the issues of sex and gender reassignment discrimination, and structural racism, in sport.
Chambers & Partners 2022 and Legal 500 2022 say:
Administrative & Public: “He is the standout junior at the public law bar. He has a unique ability to bring his expertise across several areas of law to bear in the realm of public law and human rights”. “He’s very approachable and provides incredibly clear and insightful advice”. “He’s hard-working, strategic and encyclopaedic in his knowledge”.
Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “Exceptionally lucid in oral communication and written argument. Highly collaborative and hardworking and liaises superbly with solicitors and lay client”. “A great barrister”.
Education: “He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of education and brings his wider human rights, discrimination and public law expertise to bear in this; he continues to delight clients with his advice and service”. “Very, very able with a really sharp mind. He’s very efficient, has a precise advocacy style, and is very personable”.
Professional Discipline & Regulatory Law: “He clearly knows his stuff in a highly technical area. He is clear and effective when dealing directly with the client (even when asked to advise at short notice), and very hands on during the course of the matter”. “He’s hugely intelligent: if there’s a complex legal point he’s an excellent choice”.
Local Government: “An exceptionally talented and gifted barrister with an outstanding intellect and excellent client care skills”. “His commitment to each case is second to none. He is able to offer advice and guidance that is clear and practical”. “He is very bright and easy to work with. His written and oral advocacy is always of the highest standard”.
Employment: “His technical knowledge is brilliant, and I like his style and approach”. “He has an incisive mind, an ability to assimilate material quickly, analyse the legal and factual issues carefully, and cut through to the important points. His judgement is pragmatic and sound, and he gives clear, accurate advice”. “He has a sharp mind and a deep mastery of human rights in employment matters”.
Data Protection: “He’s a very responsive and user-friendly barrister. He’s commercially sensible”. “He provides accessible and cogent advice delivered to a very short timescale”. “He’s very pragmatic and efficient”.
Previous editions say:
“Clients love him”.
“He instils trust and confidence in his clients”
“He fights the client’s corner very hard.”
“He’s brilliant at reassuring fraught clients”.
“He has an exceptionally approachable and supportive manner”.
“You can throw anything at him and he becomes a master of it”.
“He has intellectual strength, strategic and tactical awareness, personal warmth, sensitivity to solicitor and client objectives, and resilience, all in the right proportions”.
“He has a razor-sharp intellect.”
“As an advocate he is always poised, polished and well prepared”.
“A slick performer.”
“Clear, commanding, convincing, and calming”.
“He is very easy to work with”.
“He is very personable”.
“He finds creative solutions to problems”.
“He has the great skill of delivering a complex idea in a straightforward way”.
“Decisive, deft and devastating in drafting”.
“He has a great strategic mind.”
“A walking brain. He can turn his hand to anything and do it well.”
“You naturally trust him”.
“He is worth his weight in gold.”
Selected reported cases
(In order of the most recent)
Attorney General for Bermuda v Ferguson
 UKPC 5 52 BHRC 617
Whether the prohibition on same-sex marriage in Bermuda was unconstitutional
R (L) v Hampshire County Council
 EWHC 49 (Admin)  ELR 314
Whether guidance for schools on the teaching of LGBT+ content was lawful
R (Fair Play for Women) v UK Statistics Authority
 EWHC 940 (Admin)
Whether guidance on how to answer the “sex question” in the 2021 Census was lawful
Independent Workers Union of Great Britain v Central Arbitration Committee
 EWCA Civ 952  IRLR 796
Whether Deliveroo Riders have a human right to collective bargaining with Deliveroo
R (Dolan) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
 EWCA Civ 1605  1 WLR 2326
The judicial review of the lockdown
SSP Health Ltd v National Health Service Commissioning Board
 EWCA Civ 1574  PTSR 958
Whether an NHS Adjudicator can award interest in disputes over NHS Contracts
R (An Academy Trust) v Medway Council
 EWHC 156 (Admin)
When a mainstream Academy must admit a child with special educational needs
Browne v Parole Board for England and Wales
 EWCA Civ 2024
Whether a rationality or proportionality test applies to decisions on release from prison
R (Wakenshaw) v Secretary of State for Justice
 EWHC 2089 (Admin)
Whether the Parole Board is sufficiently independent of the Government
R (Brooke Energy Ltd) v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
 EWHC 2012 (Admin)
Whether a tariff for heat and power plants in the energy sector was lawful
R (Webster) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
 EWHC 1543 (Admin)  1 CMLR 8
Whether the Prime Minister’s notification of the UK’s intention to leave the EU was invalid
R (Harvey) v Ledbury Town Council
 EWHC 1151 (Admin)  LLR 839
Whether a local authority can investigate councillor misconduct outside the Localism Act 2011
R (DSD) v Parole Board for England and Wales
 EWHC 694 (Admin)  QB 285
Whether the Parole Board’s decision to release ‘black cab rapist’ John Worboys was unlawful
McDermott v Health and Care Professions Council
 EWHC 2899 (Admin) (2018) 159 BMLR 167
When “conditions of practice orders” should be imposed on healthcare professionals
Ofsted v Interim Executive Board of Al-Hijrah School
 EWCA Civ 1426  1 WLR 1471
Whether the segregation of boys and girls in a mixed school was discriminatory
R (Well Pharmacy) v Welsh Ministers
 EWHC 1983 (Admin)
A claim by a chemist relating to a decision to award an NHS contract to a rival
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy v Information Commissioner
 EWCA Civ 844  PTSR 1644  1 CMLR 8
The leading authority on the meaning of “environmental information” in freedom of information law
Poshteh v Kensington and Chelsea RLBC
 UKSC 36  AC 624
When the UK Supreme Court should follow decisions of the European Court of Human Rights
R (Zahid) v University of Manchester
 EWHC 188 (Admin)  PTSR 1728
Concerning the relationship between the Courts and the Higher Education Adjudicator
R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
 UKSC 5  AC 61
Whether Parliamentary authority was required for the UK to leave the EU
R (Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Anglers Society) v Natural Resources Wales
 EWCA Civ 797  1 WLR 228
The meaning of “environmental damage” in the Environmental Liability Directive
Jenyo v General Medical Council
 EWHC 1708 (Admin) (2016) 152 BMLR 122
When subjective dishonesty may be inferred by a professional regulatory Tribunal
Loutfi v General Medical Council
 EWHC 1620 (Admin)
What is the scope and nature of expert evidence in medical disciplinary proceedings
Shindler v Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
 EWCA Civ 469  QB 226
Whether the EU referendum franchise was lawful
R (Project Management Institute) v Minister for the Cabinet Office
 EWCA Civ 21  1 WLR 1737
A unique challenge to a decision to award a Royal Charter
EC v North East Lincolnshire Local Authority
 UKUT 648 (AAC)  ELR 109
The proper approach of the special educational needs tribunal to parents’ choice of school
Yassin v General Medical Council
 EWHC 2955 (Admin)
The particularisation required of dishonesty charges in professional disciplinary proceedings
R (Duff) v Secretary of State for Transport
 EWHC 1605 (Admin)  RTR 28
Whether a requirement of the DVLA to join an Accredited Trade Association was lawful
Dransfield v Information Commissioner
 EWCA Civ 454  1 WLR 5316
The leading authority on “vexatious” or “manifestly unreasonable” requests in information law
Aslam v Travelex UK Ltd
 5 WLUK 249  ICR D21
When an employment tribunal could dismiss a claim for non-payment of fees
R (Friends of the Earth) v Welsh Ministers
 EWHC 776 (Admin)  Env LR 1
The proper approach to “reasonable alternatives” in Strategic Environmental Assessment
Smith v Carillion (JM) Ltd
 EWCA Civ 209  IRLR 467
Whether protections against trade union blacklisting comply with the ECHR
R (Forge Care Homes Ltd) v Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
 EWHC 601 (Admin)  PTSR 945
The roles of local health boards and local authorities in Wales in funding nursing care
McCarthy v Visitors to the Inns of Court
 EWCA Civ 12
Whether the conviction for forgery of a former barrister should be quashed
Bayliss v Parole Board for England and Wales
 EWCA Civ 1631
Whether the quashing of a criminal sentence gave rise to a damages claim under the HRA
R (Leathley) v Visitors to the Inns of Court
 EWCA Civ 1630
Whether tribunals which had convicted barristers were validly constituted
JG (A Child) v Legal Services Commission
 EWCA Civ 656  5 Costs L.O. 708
When the state must fund expert evidence in private law family proceedings
R (Lonsdale) v Bar Standards Board
 EWHC 4353 (Admin)
Whether the Bar Disciplinary Tribunal could award costs which were not inter partes
Manchester City Council v JW
 UKUT 168 (AAC)  ELR 304
When a tribunal can order a local authority to maintain a Statement of Special Educational Needs
Bedale Golf Club Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners
 UKUT 99 (TCC)  BVC 512
Concerning the award of wasted costs in the First-Tier tax tribunal
Abedin v Secretary of State for Justice
 EWHC 78 (Admin)
Whether a person convicted of a terrorism offence was lawfully recalled to prison
R (Dennehy) v Ealing LBC
 EWHC 4102 (Admin)  BLGR 269
Whether sanctioning a Councillor breached his freedom of speech
R (Care North East Northumberland) v Northumberland CC
 EWCA Civ 1740  PTSR 758
The leading authority on the setting of fees for private care home operators
Stadium Capital Holdings No.2 Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
 EWHC 3548 (Admin)  JPL 533
Whether the National Planning Policy Framework relates to advertisement control
SA v Camden LBC Independent Appeal Panel
 EWHC 3152 (Admin)  ELR 29
The role of a schools exclusions panels when the parties agree the disposition of an appeal
R (Ealing LBC) v NHS England
 EWHC 3255 (Admin) (2014) 135 BMLR 128
Judicial review challenge to the reconfiguration of North West London hospitals
Harrow LBC v AM
 UKUT 157 (AAC)  ELR 351
When local authorities must make mainstream schools suitable for children with SEN
Aderemi v London and South Eastern Railway Ltd
 12 WLUK 148  ICR 591
The proper approach to the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010
Independent Police Complaints Commission v Warner
 EWHC 271 (QB)
When public authorities can sue in misuse of private information to protect others’ Article 8 rights
R (Cheshire East BC) v Secretary of State for the Environment
 EWHC 1975 (Admin)  NPC 92
Whether DEFRA could withdraw funding from a part-procured major waste infrastructure project
R (Luton BC) v Secretary of State for Education
 EWHC 217 (Admin)  Eq LR 481
The “Building Schools for the Future” judicial review
Bury MBC v SU
 UKUT 406 (AAC)  ELR 14
The relevance of suitability to the parental preference for mainstream under SEN law
R (Savva) v Kensington and Chelsea RLBC
 EWCA Civ 1209  PTSR 761
The duty to give reasons in local authority community care decisions
R (Boyle) v Haverhill Pub Watch
 EWHC 2441 (Admin)  LLR 93
Whether “Pubwatch” schemes are amenable to judicial review
R (Bristol City Council) v Bristol City Magistrates Court
 EWHC 625 (Admin)  LLR 333
Leading authority on premises licence applications under the Licensing Act 2003
- Education Law Handbook (LexisNexis: 2021)
- Judicial Review (Supperstone, Goudie and Walker) (6th Edn: 2019)
- Disciplinary and Regulatory Proceedings (10th Edn: 2019)
- The Protections for Religious Rights: Law and Practice (OUP: 2013)
- The Law of Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions (OUP: 2011)
He has written on numerous topics for a wide range of publications including The Times, the European Advocate, the Solicitors Journal, the Education Law Journal, the New Law Journal, Licensing Review, Professional Negligence, the Journal of Planning and Environmental Law, and the Local Government Lawyer. His yearly review of “Public Law in the Supreme Court”, authored jointly with Christopher Knight, has been published for nine years running in the journal Judicial Review.
He speaks widely on issues relating to his areas of practice. His recent discussion of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, for the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, can be viewed here.
Earlier in his career, he was a Visiting Lecturer at the City University, where he taught the law of torts (2008-9). From 2009-2010 he served as a Judicial Assistant at the UK Supreme Court, where he worked for Lord Collins of Mapesbury, with whom he subsequently wrote The law on international custom in the case law of the UK Supreme Court, published by the Council of Europe.
Tom read Modern Languages at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford and was awarded Double First Class Honours. He did the CPE at City University, London, obtaining a Distinction.