If you pick out just one of our Hot 100 to watch this year, make it Hodge Jones & Allen partner Jocelyn Cockburn (scroll down for video interview).
The Lawyer Awards 2012’s Partner of the Year is gearing up for an equally adversarial 2013 with a portfolio of cases the envy of public lawyers everywhere.
The Snatch Land Rover case will test the legal position of combat immunity and jurisdiction, with Cockburn acting on behalf of the families of soldiers killed in allegedly poorly armoured vehicles and the MoD fighting back all the way to the Supreme Court.
“There is the potential for this to go all the way to Strasbourg – and there are military cases stacking up behind it,” says Cockburn.
“We won on the negligence point which can now proceed to trial. It is a test case about whether the MoD owes a duty of care to soldiers in combat. We lost on the human rights point, which is about whether soldiers deployed abroad remain within UK jurisdiction for the purposes of the Human Rights Act so that the MoD must take reasonable steps to protect their lives.”
It does not take a lawyer to see the significance of legal precedent in war. Cockburn is seeking to resolve the current position and has appealed the human rights point – likely to be heard by the UK Supreme Court in February.
Cockburn’s 2012 started with a bang with the conviction of two men for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, having played a big part representing Neville Lawrence in his civil action against the CPS, which forced a fresh investigation. She continues to act for Mr Lawrence in relation to a corruption review into the original investigation.
Cockburn relishes taking on the establishment. Other 2013 claims against the police include an allegedly unlawful stop and search of a young black man who was left seriously injured, and a number of death in immigration detention or police custody cases.
“The protection of vulnerable or disabled people is a theme running through a lot of my cases,” says Cockburn.