Eric Metcalfe

Call 1999
BA, LL.B. (University of Canterbury, NZ), LL.M. (Queen’s University, Canada), D.Phil (Oxon)

+44 (0)20 7405 7211

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Eric Metcalfe is ranked as a leading junior in Civil Liberties & Human Rights by both the Legal 500 and Chambers UK, and as a leading junior in EU law by the Legal 500. He is “highly praised for the quality of his advocacy” (Legal 500, 2017), “outstanding on the law and very articulate” (Legal 500, 2016), and ”excellent, clear, sharp, and great to work with” (Chambers UK, 2015). He specialises in human rights, public law and EU law and was the director of human rights policy at JUSTICE from 2003 until 2011.

He is a member of the Attorney-General’s B Panel and the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s B Panel. He is also the general editor of Sweet & Maxwell’s Human Rights Law Reports and a fellow of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. He is direct access qualified.

  • Human Rights

    Eric appears for and advises individuals, NGOs, companies, public bodies and central government departments regarding a very wide range of human rights issues, and is currently instructed in a number of cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights. He has particular expertise in cases involving national security, surveillance, privacy and freedom of expression.

    His recent work includes:

    • 10 Human Rights Organisations v United Kingdom (24960/15, ECtHR, pending) – acting for Liberty, the ACLU, and 5 other international human rights groups challenging mass interception of communications and collection of communications data by the UK intelligence services.
    • Liberty and others v GCHQ and others [2014] All ER (D) 156, [2015] All ER (D) 60 and [2015] All ER (D) 231  – successfully acted for Liberty, the ACLU, the Legal Resources Centre and four other international human rights NGOs in their claim against GCHQ concerning the mass surveillance programmes revealed by Edward Snowden.
    • Saure v Germany (78944/12, ECtHR, pending) – acting for the Media Legal Defence Initiative,  The Media Legal Resource Centre Inc, Thomson Reuters, Index On Censorship, Associated Press And The European Publishers Council as third party interveners in a case concerning the German government’s refusal to disclose Stasi records of judges and prosecutors.
    • Advising the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 and its guidance on freedom of expression and hate speech.
    • Lüütseep v Estonia (46069/13, ECtHR, pending) – acting for ARTICLE 19 and Privacy International  as third party interveners in a case concerning the duty to notify subjects of surveillance.
    • Rapporteur for the International Bar Association’s mission to Azerbaijan and author of its report Azerbaijan: Freedom of Expression on Trial (April 2014), concerning the fair trial rights of journalists and activists under the Aliyev regime.

    Eric’s high profile cases include:

    • Othman (Abu Qatada) v United Kingdom (2012) 55 EHRR 1(ECtHR) – joint intervention between JUSTICE, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch concerning use of assurances against torture.
    • Al Rawi and others v Security Service and others [2011] UKSC 34 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention in a successful challenge to the government’s use of closed proceedings in civil claims.
    • WL (Congo) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 12 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention re presumption of liberty under the Immigration Act 1971.
    • R (Binyam Mohamed) v Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [2010] EWCA Civ 65  – managed JUSTICE’s intervention concerning disclosure of classified material relating to torture received from a foreign government.
    • Ahmed and others v HM Treasury [2010] UKSC 2 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention in challenge to asset-freezing orders under the United Nations Act 1946.
    • R (A) v B [2009] UKSC 12 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention re jurisdiction of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to hear claims under the Human Rights Act.
    • Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF and others [2009] UKHL 28  – managed JUSTICE’s intervention concerning absolute duty under Art 6 ECHR to disclose closed material in control order proceedings.
    • A and others v United Kingdom (2009) 49 EHRR 29 – acted for JUSTICE in its landmark intervention on the use of closed hearings and special advocates in SIAC proceedings.
    • Al Jedda v Secretary of State for Defence [2007] UKHL 58  – managed JUSTICE’s intervention concerning conflict between UN Security Council Resolution 1546 and right to liberty under Article 5 ECHR.
    • Secretary of State for the Home Department v MB [2007] UKHL 46 and Secretary of State for the Home Department v JJ and others [2007] UKHL 45 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention concerning compatibility of control orders with Arts 5&6 ECHR.
    • R (Corner House) v Serious Fraud Office and BAE Systems [2008] UKHL 60 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention concerning relationship between prosecutorial discretion and the rule of law.
    • YL v Birmingham City Council [2007] UKHL 27 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention re definition of ‘public authority’ under the Human Rights Act.
    • Roberts v Parole Board [2005] UKHL 45 – acted for JUSTICE concerning use of closed evidence and special advocates in parole board cases.
    • A and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) [2005] UKHL 71 – managed International Commission of Jurist’s intervention concerning the admissibility of evidence obtained under torture abroad.
    • R v Special Adjudicator ex parte Ullah [2004] UKHL 26 – managed JUSTICE’s intervention concerning the application of Human Rights Act and ECHR to immigration removal decisions.
  • Public Law

    Eric has a broad-ranging public law practice, covering such fields as asylum and immigration, commercial and regulatory matters, education and community care, children’s rights, parole board proceedings, mental health and VAT. He has appeared as an advocate in public law cases in the Upper Tribunal, the Administrative Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. His recent cases include:

    • British American Tobacco (Holdings) Ltd v HMRC [2017] UKFTT 167 (TC) – successfully defended HMRC against tobacco company’s appeal against penalty for breach of its duty under s7A of the Tobacco Products Duty Act 1979 to help prevent smuggling.
    • R (Dean) v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Dart Energy Ltd (CO/4951/2016, Administrative Court, 15 December 2016, unreported) – acted for the Secretary of State in permission hearing concerning decision to vary licence for petroleum exploration and development in relation to fracking near Chester.
    • R (Public Law Project) v Lord Chancellor [2016] UKSC 39 – acting for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England as third party intervener in PLP’s challenge of the proposed ‘residence test’ for legal aid. On 18 April 2016, the Supreme Court announced that it was allowing PLP’s appeal with reasons to follow.
    • Advising the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) concerning the Secretary of State’s oversight of library services under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, as part of CILIP’s My Library My Right campaign.
    • R (MM) v London Borough of Hounslow [2015] EWHC 3731 (Admin) – acting for a young person with severe autism challenging the reasonableness of the local authority’s assessment of his social care needs.
    • Projosujadi v Director of Border Revenue [2015] UKUT 297 (TCC) – successful appeal against the Border Force’s refusal to restore alligator-skin handbag imported without certificates under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
    • Coward v Ambrosiadou and Kroll Associates (Queen’s Bench Division, unreported, 2014) – acting for private security company successfully resisting third party disclosure order on various grounds, including legal professional privilege, the privilege against self-incrimination and breach of Article 8 ECHR.
    • Cohn v BBC [2012] EWHC 4037 (Admin) – application to judicially review the BBC’s decision to cancel Jewish Hour.
    • R (Cart) v Upper Tribunal [2011] UKSC 28 – managing JUSTICE’s third party intervention before the Supreme Court concerning the amenability of statutory tribunals designated as superior courts of record to judicial review.
  • EU Law

    Eric is currently instructed in a number of EU law matters, with particular reference to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. His recent cases include:

    • Colaingrove v HMRC; Done Brothers v HMRC; Rank Group v HMRC (First-Tier Tribunal, pending) – acting for HMRC in relation to multiple claims concerning alleged breach of principle of fiscal neutrality in relation to gaming machines.
    • Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd v Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (CO/3516/2016, Administrative Court, 29 November 2016, unreported) – acted for the MHRA resisting the grant of permission in relation to grant of marketing authorisation for generic of Copaxone under Directive 2001/83/EC.
    • A v Director of Public Prosecutions [2016] EWCA Crim 1393 – acted for Applicant in very first challenge brought under Regulation 10 of the Criminal Justice and Data Protection (Protocol No 36) Regulations 2014 to cancel registration of an overseas restraint order for €10 million under the EU Framework Decision on Freezing Orders.
    • Case C-547/14 R (Philip Morris Ltd and others) v Secretary of State for Health; Case C‑477/14 Pillbox 38 (UK) Ltd v Secretary of State for Health; and Case C‑358/14 Poland v Parliament and Council – appeared for the UK government before the CJEU in three cases heard together concerning the Tobacco Products Directive, successfully defending the scope of the Directive in relation to restrictions on packaging, flavouring and e-cigarettes.
    • Ocean Capital Administration GmbH and 31 others v Council of the European Union (pending) – application to the General Court to annul the designation of 32 companies under the Iran (nuclear proliferation) sanctions.
    • Delaney v Secretary of State for Transport [2015] EWCA Civ 172 – Successfully resisted the Secretary of State’s appeal against the award of Francovich damages arising from the government’s failure to correctly implement the second European motor insurance directive.
    • Prime International Alliance Inc v Erin Resources SA – advised the Defendant concerning the effect of EU sanctions against Belarus on its dispute with its joint venture partner in respect of an oil terminal in Russia
    • Advising a UK telecommunications company concerning EU sanctions against various countries, including Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq
    • Advising a leading UK humanitarian organisation on recent changes to EU State Aid rules.
  • Public International Law

    Eric has been involved in a number of leading cases in the field of public international law, particularly relating to the UK’s obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law. His cases include:

    • Jones v United Kingdom (2014) 59 EHRR 1 and Ron Jones v Saudi Arabia [2006] UKHL 26 (House of Lords) – joint intervention between JUSTICE, Redress, Amnesty International and Interights on state immunity of foreign governments for acts of torture.
    • Nada v Switzerland (2013) 56 EHRR 18 – acted for the intervener JUSTICE before the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR in relation to the compatibility of a travel ban under UNSCR 1267.
    • Al Jedda v United Kingdom (2011) 53 EHRR 23 – managing JUSTICE’s intervention in case concerning conflict between UN Security Council Resolution 1546 and right to liberty under Article 5 ECHR
  • Information Law

    Eric is co-author of the 5th edition of Blackstone’s Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (OUP, 2013) and regularly appears for the Information Commissioner in appeals before the Information Tribunal. His recent cases include:

    • Levinson v Information Commissioner and MHRA (GIA/246-248/2016, Upper Tribunal, pending) – acting for the MHRA resisting an appeal against its refusal to disclose staff details on data protection grounds.
    • Lubicz v Information Commissioner; King’s College London v the Information Commissioner (Upper Tribunal, unreported, 10 March 2016) – acted for the Commissioner, successfully resisting separate appeals brought by Mr Lubicz and King’s College against the decision of the Information Tribunal (First Tier) concerning a request for information about salaries of senior staff.
    • Metropolitan Police v Information Commissioner (EA/2014/0222) – acting for the Commissioner in an appeal concerning the disclosure of the identities of deceased children used by undercover officers (Operation Herne).
    • McIntosh v Information Commissioner and BBC (EA/2014/0033) – acted for the Commissioner in an appeal concerning the data protection exemption under s40(2) FOIA in relation to licence fee data.

    Eric regularly advises individuals, companies and NGOs on the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, the General Data Protection Directive, and data retention in the wake of the CJEU judgment in Digital Rights Ireland and Schrems. His work includes advising on data transfer agreements and challenging Interpol and Europol over the processing of personal data in respect of individuals subject to Red Notices and Diffusions.

  • Publications

    Eric is the General Editor of the Human Rights Law Reports – UK Cases (Sweet & Maxwell), the co-author of the 5th edition of Blackstone’s Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (2013) and a contributor to the Rights and Freedoms volume of the 5th edition of Halsbury’s Laws (2013).

    He was the author of Azerbaijan: Freedom of Expression on Trial, a report by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute published in May 2014.

    His other publications include Building a Surveillance Framework for a Digital Age (2015), Freedom from Suspicion: Surveillance Reform for a Digital Age (2011), Secret Evidence (2009), the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 for Current Law Statutes Annotated (Sweet & Maxwell), and Intercept Evidence (2006).

  • What the Directories Say

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “He is very knowledgeable and knows human rights back to front.” “Eric is very measured, calm and experienced.” Chambers UK, 2018

    Leading junior in Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police): ‘‘Highly praised for the quality of his advocacy.’’Legal 500, 2017

    Leading junior in EU Law: ‘‘A pleasure to work with.’’Legal 500, 2017

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “He has a very nice manner in court and is clearly very competent.” “Eric Metcalfe is very good, a sound young junior.” Chambers UK, 2017

    Leading Junior in Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police):  “Outstanding on the law and very articulate.” – Legal 500, 2016

    ”Excellent; clear, sharp, and great to work with.” Leading Junior in Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law. Legal 500, 2015

    “Hardworking, with an outstanding intellect and grasp of issues at hand.” Eric is ranked as a leading Junior in Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law. Legal 500, 2014

    Eric Metcalfe is recommended as a leading junior in Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law. Legal 500, 2013

    Eric Metcalfe is recommended as a leading junior in Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law. Legal 500, 2012

  • Additional Information

    Eric has a law degree and a degree in history and English literature from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch New Zealand, a postgraduate degree in law from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada and a doctorate in legal philosophy from the Faculty of Law of the University of Oxford. He previously taught jurisprudence to undergraduate law students at New College and Trinity College, Oxford.

    He has advised and acted for a wide range of human rights organisations including the American Civil Liberties Union, ARTICLE 19, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Index on Censorship, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, JUSTICE (the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists), the Kurdish Human Rights Project, the Legal Resources Centre, Liberty, the Media Legal Defence Initiative, and Privacy International. He has carried out human rights work in countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Russia, Rwanda, Taiwan and Turkey.

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