Simon Laws QC
Head of Chambers
Education: University of York, BA English & Related Literature, City University, Dip Law Inns of Court School of Law
Area of Practice: Criminal Law Barrister
A crime specialist with particular experience in cases of homicide, sexual offences, fraud and drugs.
Simon Laws was in practice in London for 8 years (at what is now the Chambers of David Perry QC and Simon Denison QC, 6, King’s Bench Walk) before moving to Walnut House in 1999.
His domestic practice covers all aspects of the criminal law. He appears for the prosecution and the defence both in the West Country and beyond. He has particular experience in cases of homicide, sexual offending and conspiracies to supply drugs.
From 2008-2010 he was employed by the United Nations to act for the Prosecution in a War Crimes War trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
He also works as an overseas consultant as part of TWL Legal Consulting (http://www.twl-legal.consulting).
He is ranked in Chambers & Partners.
Cases of Note:
Office of the Prosecutor v Prlic et al, ICTY: Prosecution of six political and military leaders for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions relating to the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia in 1992-1994.
He has been instructed in many West Country cases of murder and manslaughter.
R v D. prosecuting murder of young man by great-uncle.
R v M. defence of man with Aperger's syndrome for murder of acquaintance.
R v C. defence of man aged 18 for murder of his baby son.
R v J. Three month trial of a woman charged with arranging abduction and murder of her partner, a local councillor and druid. Evidence ranging from ground-breaking telephone evidence to occult ritual.
R v J. Prosecution of murder in the course of robbery using forensic entomology to identify time of death.
R v B&M. Prosecution of two defendants for brutal killing of elderly man in his home in order to steal.
R v P. Defence of man charged with murder after human remains found buried in garden in Torquay.
R v H. Defence of teenager for killing a homeless man in a gang attack.
R v M. Prosecution of murder case involving attack with Samurai sword.
R v C-N. Prosecution of murder case concerning killing of cleaner by burglar disturbed in course of break-in.
R v K. Defence of a teenager for the murder of a close friend.
R v J. Defence of teenager for murder of step-father’s partner at farmhouse involving cut-throat defence with step-father.
R v L. Defence of woman for murder of abusive partner.
R v B. Prosecution of woman for murder of Royal Marine.
R v O. Defence of retired lecturer for murder of wife whilst suffering acute mental illness.
R v S & others. Prosecution of a multi-handed murder trial where the victim, a young man with learning difficulties, was tortured before being made to jump to his death from a viaduct.
R v G. Prosecution of an uncle for the manslaughter by gross negligence of his nephew; the youngest heroin-related death in the country.
R v H. Defending man alleged to have killed 92 year old man in course of mugging.
R v C: prosecution of man for murder of mother by strangulation.
R v C: prosecution for murder by suffocation committed by lodger.
R v L: prosecution for murder of 18 year old man for murder of 81 year old grandfather in course of theft.
R v H: defence of man for murder arising out of alleged rape of his partner.
R v L – prosecution for murder of grandfather in course of theft by grandson.
R v C prosecution of “cold case” murder of man for strangling elderly widow in her home 12 years after the offence.
R v S prosecution of man for bludgeoning partner to death, involving a staged alibi.
R v S murder by caretaker of resident in sheltered accommodation in order to steal.
R v J – murder of a complete stranger using bayonet by defendant suffering from schizophrenia.
R v H, defence of retired GP for murder of her husband (diminished responsibility).
R v W – prosecution of father for murder of baby.
R v L & Ors – prosecution of four doormen for gross negligence manslaughter following death of nightclub customer in the course of restraint
R v C prosecution of cold case murder eleven years after the offence: strangulation of 74 year old woman in her home
R v D, prosecution of racially aggravated murder of 17 year old, stabbed with a broken bottle.
R v K & C – defending in cut-throat murder arising out of killing of elderly man for gain.
R v M – prosecution of man for sexually assaulting and murdering his mother.
He has prosecuted and defended numerous cases involving rape by strangers, including R v G (rape of woman with special needs), R v W (rape by soldier) R v P (rape of hitch-hiker) and many involving rape against a domestic background.
He has appeared in very many cases involving sexual abuse within the family, including cases involving multi-generational allegations of child abuse and in cases of abuse in care homes and schools.
He has also appeared in a number of cases relating to the control of prostitutes and people-trafficking for the purpose of prostitution.
R v H: defending a "cold case" rape, based on DNA, many years after an attack in Plymouth.
R v P: defending a church organist for sexual allegations.
He has been instructed both to prosecute and defend multi-handed drugs conspiracies, especially those involving extensive telephone and surveillance evidence.
In 2012-2013, leading Bathsheba Cassel and Brian FitzHerbert, he prosecuted two of the largest operations ever brought against those trafficking Class A drugs into Devon and Cornwall resulting in 34 convictions for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and linked offences.
Fraud and Regulatory:
He has prosecuted significant cases involving tax fraud and a Spanish fishing company for quota fraud on behalf of the Marine Fisheries Agency.
He has also defended in cases involving substantial allegations of fraud including R v H (defence of man charged with £35 million VAT fraud, one of the London City Bond cases).
He has appeared in many cases of attempted murder, armed robbery and money laundering.
He has considerable experience of defending adults with learning difficulties and of cases involving issues of entrapment, obscenity and mental disorder.
He is also instructed to prosecute and defend police officers; cases include R v W (defence of police officer charged with perverting the course of justice), R v B (defence of police officer for dangerous driving in course of police pursuit), R v B (prosecution of police officer for indecent assaults on young men) and R v T (defence of police officer for assaulting a suspect in course of an arrest).
He has appeared in numerous Court Martials in Germany defending British soldiers.
He accepts instructions in cases in the Court of Appeal in which he did not appear at trial, including on a Public Access basis. Examples include:
R v L – representing appellant convicted of conspiracy to murder Joss Stone.
R v C – representing appellant in successful appeal against conviction for sexual offences (Public Access).
R v R. representing an appellant whose case had been referred by the CCRC: he had served 15 years of a life sentence for murder; fresh evidence adduced on appeal to show that he was suffering from Asperger's syndrome at the time of the killing.
He has appeared in a variety of other cases on appeal including:
R v A. One of a handful of cases involving an application by the prosecution for the quashing of an acquittal and for a retrial of a serious offence under s.76 CJA 2003.
R v R & Ors. Appeal in Privy Council of men sentenced to death in Jamaica on basis of felony murder rule; sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
Simon has acted as a script consultant on criminal justice issues to a number of organisations including ITV, the National Theatre and independent production companies. He played the role of prosecuting counsel in Channel 4's Consent, a dramatised rape trial involving real barristers, police officers etc and a jury drawn from the electoral roll.
Simon is able to accept cases under the Bar’s Public Access Scheme.