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 David Fisher QC, 6, King’s Bench Walk) before moving to Walnut House in 1999.
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 accepts instructions in cases covering all aspects of the criminal law for the prosecution and the defence both in the West Country and beyond. He has particular experience in cases of homicide, sexual offending, drugs and fraud.
Before taking silk in 2011 he appeared in Chambers & Partners as a "leading junior" for five years.
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 complex and notorious West Country murders including:
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 baby.
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 cell-site analysis 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.
R v P. Defence of man charged with murder after human remains found buried in garden in Torquay.
R v J. Defence of teenager for killing a homeless man in a gang attack.
R v M. Prosecution of murder case involving fatal use of Samurai sword.
R v C-N. Prosecution of murder case concerning killing of cleaner by burglar.
R v K. Defence of a teenager for the murder of a close friend.
R v J. Defence of teenager for murder at farmhouse involving cut-throat defence with step-father.
R v L. Defence of a 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. Defendant 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.
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 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 for the Inland Revenue and 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).
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 assault in course of an arrest).
R v A. One of a handful of applications 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. A case involving a defendant who 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.
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 and the National Theatre. 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.
Honorary Fellow, Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, University of Exeter.
Simon is able to accept cases under the Bar’s Public Access Scheme