Nick Wrightson

Partner

Public Law | Judicial Review | Public Inquiries

"A real star in the making."

Chambers UK, 2021

"He is absolutely brilliant."

– Chambers UK, 2022

Nick is a partner in the Public Law team. His public law practice focuses on judicial review litigation and supporting clients through public inquiries and complex inquests. He has been ranked by Chambers UK in their Administrative & Public Law category. Nick has over a decade of experience and has acted for public bodies, private companies, individuals, representative bodies and charities – often in high stakes, politically and commercially sensitive cases.
 

Clients say they have “learnt to trust [Nick] in the most delicate of matters, and place great weight on [his] advice”. They have praised his “care, and expertise beyond expectations” and called him “extremely attentive and ‘on the ball’… and just easy to work with”.

Nick is regularly instructed on judicial review claims (particularly in commercial and regulatory contexts). He has worked with claimants, defendants, interested parties and interveners. Nick has also acted for key participants, and worked with important witnesses, in large scale inquests and public inquiries.

Beyond the courts, Nick helps public sector clients to understand their duties, make key decisions and manage their litigation risks. He is an experienced adviser regarding the interpretation of legislation and regulations, freedom of information requests and the public law aspects of criminal and regulatory investigations and proceedings. Finally, Nick has acted for and against regulators in a range of investigations and proceedings

Work Highlights

Judicial Review

  • The Liberal Democrats, a UK political party, in their judicial review challenge to the exclusion of their leader from a televised leaders’ debate during the 2019 General Election campaign. (Divisional Court)
  • Pearson / Edexcel, an examination board, in defending a judicial review brought by a coalition of local authorities, schools, teachers and pupils challenging the setting of GCSE English grade boundaries in Summer 2012. (Divisional Court)
  • Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in defending a statutory challenge to the exercise of compulsory purchase powers by the Secretary of State and a local authority required to permit the development of the club’s new stadium. (High Court)
  • Drax Power in a judicial review challenge to the decision by the Secretary of State to refuse its application for state support in the form of a high-value investment contract to fund renewable energy generation. (High Court and Court of Appeal)
  • The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition and the International Committee of Jurists in their intervention in a 2021 case about the circumstances in which a UK-domiciled parent company may owe a common law duty to persons allegedly harmed by the alleged systemic health, safety and environmental failings of one of its overseas subsidiaries. (UK Supreme Court)

Complex Inquests

  • The University of Cambridge, regarding the nine week inquests into the deaths on 29 November 2019 in connection with the terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall, City of London.

Public Inquiries

  • Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the English Benedictine Congregation and the Catholic Council for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, in relation to a long-running public inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse.
  • A participant in the Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry, a public inquiry into the ‘Cash for Ash’ political scandal.

Professional Regulation

  • Executive Counsel to the Financial Reporting Council in disciplinary proceedings against accountants and accountancy firms, including most recently against KPMG and one of its partners in relation to the Silentnight group of companies, in 2020.

 

What clients and Directories have said

He has a lot of practical and industry experience which is very helpful for clients."

Chambers UK, 2022

It has been a pleasure to work with you on this matter. I am very pleased with the witness statement which conveys everything I can offer to help the Inquiry…Your advice on the way in which the witness statement is worded, also importantly, reflects my sincere intention to do all that I can to support the Inquiry’s aims and objectives…you are a huge asset to KN.”

A client

He has provided intellectual firepower in going through our witness statements with a fine-tooth comb to ensure clarity."

Chambers UK, 2021

The excellent advice and hard work of the Kingsley Napley team materially contributed to the resounding success of this case. We simply could not have mastered the voluminous material without your assistance.”

A public body

Whilst Nick’s professional knowledge is significant, it was his personable style alongside his attentiveness, diligence and sheer professionalism that meant I always had so much confidence in his legal representation.”

A senior individual

We are so grateful to you for all of your extremely hard work and tireless support over a very intense period. I have no doubt all of that preparation and professionalism stood us in very good stead…”

A public body

“…the [client] continues to be enormously appreciative of the attention to detail and care with which you and Adam have been advising and representing the community.” “Client care has been exceptional.”

A representative organisation

I hoped you all were left in no doubt of my huge personal gratitude for all that you have done to steer us safely to this point…We would not be where we are – and I would not have been able to weather these storms in the way I am doing - were it not for all of the team’s care and expertise.” 

A client

 

Professional societies and memberships

 

Further Information

Nick has a double first class degree, a masters with distinction and a doctorate in History from the University of Oxford. He trained and later became a senior associate in the public law practice at Herbert Smith Freehills. He went on to join the public law team at Kingsley Napley in 2017 and was promoted to partner in 2021. He recently completed a postgraduate diploma in Laws specialising in public law at the University of London. Nick is a Solicitor-Advocate (Higher Courts Civil Proceedings).

 

Kingsley Napley are hugely lucky to have someone of your calibre – not just your intellect and incisive legal analysis but your exceptionally thoughtful and empathetic approach. It’s not often one finds lawyers with both sets of attributes!”

A large organisation

Latest blogs & news

Case Note – challenging the Court’s jurisdiction in judicial review proceedings: R (Girgis) v Joint Committee on Intercollegiate Examinations [2021] EWHC 2256 (Admin)

The Administrative Court of England & Wales has recently considered a challenge to its jurisdiction to hear a judicial review claim on the basis (asserted by the defendant) that the claim should be heard at the Court of Session in Scotland. As explained below, the challenge was unsuccessful, but the case is interesting not just because of the Court’s conclusion on the substantive issue but also because of His Honour Judge Simon’s approach to the “technical” (procedural) issues the case gave rise to.

New guidance encourages judicial review practitioners to be concise, succinct and prepared

Earlier this year, changes to Practice Direction 54A (covering judicial review) and 54B (covering urgent applications) came into effect. This blog will consider the impact that the changes have had on the procedure for judicial review, before turning to a recent example of the perils of failing to follow the rules.

Can you devise an effective ouster clause to exclude a category of decision making from judicial review?

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill contains a new ‘ouster clause’ designed to prevent judicial review of the Upper Tribunal’s decisions on certain applications for permission to appeal against decisions of the First-Tier Tribunal. This blog explores why drafting legislation to restrict judicial review is so difficult.

The UK Supreme Court has confirmed the principles for judicial review of policies

R (A) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] UKSC 37 and R (BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] UKSC 38

Two linked Supreme Court judgments provide a reminder to claimants that challenges to policies should focus on whether the policies authorise or approve violations of the law. The court acknowledges that policies are issued to promote practical objectives and the standards set for reviewing them must not be unduly demanding.

Judicial Review Reform – waiting for the sting

Long awaited reforms to judicial review were revealed yesterday by Robert Buckland in his Judicial Review and Courts Bill. Thankfully the proposals to suspend quashing orders and limit their retrospective effect retain all-important judicial discretion and, at face value, are milder than feared. However, the decision to exclude the review of Upper Tribunal permission-to-appeal decisions (so called “Cart JRs”) is more troubling, marking the return of ouster clauses and possibly setting the groundwork for the removal of the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court in future legislation.

Government Launches Public Consultation on Reforms to Judicial Review

On 18 March 2021 the government published the Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL) and began a public consultation on reforms to judicial review. This blog provides some initial thoughts on these important developments. For background on the IRAL see our introductory blog here.

Supreme Court rules that Nigerian communities can have their case against Shell heard in the English courts

This morning (12 February 2021) the UK Supreme Court handed down judgment in Okpabi & others v Royal Dutch Shell (“Okpabi”), a case concerning mass oil pollution in the Niger Delta. Judgment is in favour of the claimants, communities representing over 40,000 affected citizens of Nigeria, whose claim against oil conglomerate Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary can now be heard in the English courts.

Striking a balance or tipping the scales? The Independent Review of Administrative Law and the possible reform of Judicial Review

On 31 July 2020 the Government launched an Independent Review of Administrative Law (‘the Review’). The panel of lawyers and academics, chaired by former Minister of State for Civil Justice Lord Edward Faulks QC (‘the Panel’), has been tasked with examining the potential need for reform of Judicial Review and to ‘consider whether the right balance is being struck between the rights of citizens to challenge executive decisions and the need for effective and efficient government.’

Office for Students refusal to register higher education provider unlawful due to failure to delegate and ‘secret policy’

The Bloomsbury Institute was fighting to survive financially after the Office for Students refused its application for registration. It brought a judicial review challenge which revealed that an unpublished policy had been followed. The policy had been formulated by an official who did not have the power to make the relevant decisions.

International Court of Justice and UN General Assembly do not alter the outcome of the Chagos Islands challenge

In a February 2019 Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice stated that, under international law, the decolonisation of Mauritius by the UK has never been lawfully completed and the UK must therefore “end its administration” of the Chagos islands.

Voter ID laws and the way courts interpret legislation

Interpreting legislation is both an art and a science. This recent Court of Appeal case illustrates how judges do it in the context of the statutory scheme used to introduce controversial voter ID pilot schemes.

The High Court confirms that unincorporated associations may participate in both judicial review claims and statutory challenges

Even if it is generally more straightforward for the claimant to be a legal person, this judgment may give confidence to the likes of amateur sports clubs and campaigning pressure groups considering challenging the exercise of public power.

What does the new government mean for public lawyers?

Friday 13 December 2019 will be remembered as the day the Conservatives won their biggest majority since the 1980s and finally obtained the dominance required to complete the Article 50 process and take the UK out of the EU. 

Enemies of the constitution? The words of those attacking independent judges are corrosive and wrong

Everyone has an opinion on yesterday’s decision of the UK Supreme Court. Boris Johnson said on television that he profoundly disagreed with it. Jacob Rees-Mogg reportedly called it a ‘constitutional coup’ on a cabinet conference call. Former Lord Chancellor Michael Gove was distinctly equivocal about it when interviewed on the Today programme. Laura Kuenssberg reported on Twitter that a No 10 source said ‘the Supreme Court is wrong and has made a serious mistake in extending its reach into these political matters’. The fact these people all claim they will still ‘respect’ the decision does not detract from the corrosiveness of their sentiments.

Since prorogation ‘never happened’ what happens next?

The prorogation judicial reviews concerned the constitutional equilibrium between government, parliament and the courts. Today, an 11 member UK Supreme Court panel affirmed its centuries-old supervisory jurisdiction over acts of government and ruled unanimously that Boris Johnson’s government failed to advance any reasonable justification for proroguing parliament. The prorogation was therefore unlawful and ‘never happened’ so parliament is back in the game.

When politics and law collide: The prorogation judicial reviews

Scotland’s highest court and a senior divisional court of the High Court in England and Wales have reached opposite conclusions about whether the recent decision to prorogue parliament was lawful.

“WhatsApp” with Dominic Grieve’s motion for Brexit communications?

Monday night’s marathon session in Parliament saw a number of issues debated into the small hours and further defeats for the government. While many raised important political and legal issues, one of particular interest to information lawyers, followers of Parliamentary procedure and journalists alike was the endorsement of a “Humble Address” motion brought by former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve.

High Court finds Mayor’s Congestion Charge decision did not involve unlawful discrimination

On 24 July 2019, the High Court handed down judgment in R (on the application of Independent Workers Union Of Great Britain and others) v Mayor Of London [2019] EWHC 1997 (Admin). This case related to the decision in December 2018 by the Mayor of London to remove an exemption and require private hire vehicles (“PHV”) to pay the Congestion Charge from 8 April 2019

 

London Climate Action Week: Saving Londoners from nitrogen dioxide, one judicial review at a time

According to the most recent data, two million people in London are living with illegal levels of air pollution. Nitrogen dioxide is one of the main pollutants and road transport is estimated to be responsible for 50% of total emissions.

KN Green Week: Can law help save the world?

We have seen in recent months various and different attempts by those who want to change the course of government policy on the issue of climate change.

Related Services

Public Law

Our 'exceptional' team has over 25 years' experience, acting in the most significant public law cases.

Judicial Review

We are known for our notable strengths in judicial review litigation and our incisive and pragmatic advice.

Public Inquiries

The team is consistently recognised for its public inquiry expertise, with over 25 years experience in all the major inquiries.

Inquests

Our team has an established record of representing families, organisations, other interested persons and witnesses at inquests.

Freedom of Information/Environmental Information

Our team has extensive experience acting for central government, businesses & senior police officers on their information rights.

Public Policy and Governance

We have expertise in administrative and public law, together with our real enthusiasm for the work we do.

Select Committees

Our team is experienced in representing senior professionals, public figures and major corporations before Parliamentary Select Committees.

Advice for Regulators and Public Bodies

We have acted for regulatory authorities for several decades, providing advice concerning their regulatory functions and operations.

Investigations

When an individual or company is faced with a criminal or regulatory investigation we manage every step of the process.

Dealing with an Investigation

Under investigation? We ensure you have the specialist, strategic advice to help you manage.

Political Affairs

Our international work includes dealing with the suite of issues that may arise from politically motivated persecutions.

Responding to a Data Leak

Our Specialist Data Leak Response Team are able to advise on mitigating any potential consequences for you or your business.

Insight from Nick

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Blogs

Government Launches Public Consultation on Reforms to Judicial Review

Striking a balance or tipping the scales? The Independent Review of Administrative Law and the possible reform of Judicial Review

Office for Students refusal to register higher education provider unlawful due to failure to delegate and ‘secret policy’

International Court of Justice and UN General Assembly do not alter the outcome of the Chagos Islands challenge

Voter ID laws and the way courts interpret legislation

The High Court confirms that unincorporated associations may participate in both judicial review claims and statutory challenges

What does the new government mean for public lawyers?

Uber back in the news

When do contracts and goodwill amount to A1P1 possession?

Enemies of the constitution? The words of those attacking independent judges are corrosive and wrong

Since prorogation ‘never happened’ what happens next?

When politics and law collide: The prorogation judicial reviews

Blowing spies’ legal cover? Reprieve threatens judicial review of alleged government misuse of the ‘James Bond clause’

What is secondary legislation and why do we have it?

Kingsley Napley considers statutory instruments and Brexit

Divorced, beheaded, scrutinised? SIs and Henry VIII powers under review

Ordinarily hard to challenge ombudsman’s decision-making marred by illegality, irrationality, procedural unfairness and pre-determination

Opaque, unpredictable, diminished? Parliamentary committee commentary suggests the human rights consequences of #Brexit withdrawal legislation “appear to be contrary to the Government’s intent”

Legal update: Unlawful Discrimination in Personal Independence Payments

Cheap alcohol a thing of the past (at least for six years)?

R (on the application of Ngole) v University of Sheffield (Health and Care Professions Council intervening) [2017] EWHC 2669 (Admin)

Legal Update: NGOs win challenge to Aarhus costs caps

Uber’s apology considered by Kingsley Napley

TfL finds Uber no-longer ‘fit and proper’ to operate in London

The special constitutional importance of judicial review may demand a distinctive approach to the recovery of litigation costs, but will the latest recommendations be taken forward?

A challenge to the lawfulness of export licences allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia has been rejected

The Queen’s Speech 2017 – Setting the parliamentary agenda

Will legislating for Brexit be almost as testing for the new minority government as the forthcoming negotiations?

How would a minority government or coalition led by Theresa May go about changing human rights laws in the fight against terrorism?

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