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Aidan Wills
MEET:

Aidan Wills

Aidan became a member of Matrix in October 2016 following the successful completion of his traineeship.

Called: 2015

Aidan specialises in public law and human rights, media and information law, and equality and discrimination law. After training at Matrix, he commenced practice in 2016. Aidan has acted in leading cases across these practice areas. He has appeared at all levels up to the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights. Aidan is ranked by the directories in the areas of Administrative/Public Law, Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Defamation and Privacy and Data Protection.

Aidan’s diverse public law and human rights practice covers policing, prisons, national security, surveillance, education, social welfare, and the disclosure and barring regime. His clients have included individuals, NGOs, media organisations, universities and a political party. Aidan’s practice in these areas is addressed in more detail under the subheadings below. His public law and human rights cases include:

  • R (YVR) v Birmingham City Council [2023] (adult social care charging policy) [led by Dan Squires KC]
  • R (Dos Reis) v SSHD [2023] (GPS tracking of migrants) [led by Chris Buttler KC]
  • R (Holland Park School Parents Collective) v SSE [2022] EWHC 3159 (Admin) (consultation on a school’s move from a single to multi-academy trust) [led by David Wolfe KC]
  • R (Thakrar) v SSHD [2022] (solitary confinement of a prisoner in the Close Supervision Centre) [led by Nick Armstrong KC]
  • R (JENGbA) v DPP [2022] (equalities implications of joint enterprise prosecutions) [led by Raj Desai]
  • R (Bell) v Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust [2022] 1 All ER 416 (policy on the administration of puberty blockers to children) [led by Paul Skinner]
  • R (StopWatch) v SSHD [2021] (equalities implications of suspicionless stop and search) [led by Raj Desai]
  • Bureau Investigative Journalism, Big Brother Watch & ors v UK [2022] 74 EHRR 17 (mass surveillance under RIPA 2000) [led by Gavin Millar QC]
  • R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037 (police of use of live facial recognition) [led by Dan Squires QC]
  • R (EDC) v SSHD [2020] (gathering and retention of private and privileged information from trafficking victims) [led by Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • R (Liberal Democrats) v ITV [2020] 4 WLR 4 (a political party’s exclusion from televised election debates) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams QC]
  • R (AA) v Metropolitan Police [2019] (deployment of police officers in schools) [led by Sarah Hannett]
  • R (DSD) v Parole Board [2019] QB 285 (restrictions on open justice in Parole Board proceedings) [led by Gavin Millar QC]
  • R (Orlebar-Forbes) v SSJ [2018] (holding a prisoner in the Separation Centre)
  • R (Buckingham) v Corby CCG [2018] EWHC 2080 (Admin) (closure of NHS services) [led by Sarah Sackman].
  • R (MRN) v SSHD and SSH [2018] (primary healthcare providers sharing patient data with the Home Office for immigration enforcement) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams QC]

Aidan has particular expertise in the collection (including through surveillance and the use of new technologies), retention and sharing of information by public bodies. His work in this area has included appearing landmark cases on the use of live facial recognition technology by the police (for which he was awarded The Lawyer’s Barrister of the Week) (Bridges), 24-hour GPS surveillance against migrants (Dos Reis), and the UK’s bulk surveillance regime (Bureau of Investigate Journalism), as well as advising on the human rights implications of communications service providers being mandated to scan users’ communications under the (then) Online Safety Bill.

Aidan has experience of making urgent applications for interim relief in judicial review cases and applications to the European Court of Human Rights.

Aidan is regularly instructed (led and unled) in high-profile High Court privacy, libel, and breach of confidence litigation. He acts for both claimants and defendants; his clients have ranged from celebrities to refugees, national newspapers, investigative journalists, charities, large corporations and regulators.

Aidan has experience of cases concerning the identification of anonymous publishers (including by way of Norwich Pharmacal relief and self-identification orders); relief against persons unknown; notice-and-takedown procedures; and the liability of internet service providers.

His recent/ongoing cases include:

  • Sinton v Maybourne Hotels Ltd [2023] (acting for the defendant in a libel, malicious falsehood and data protection claim arising in the context of hotel construction) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams KC]
  • Banks v Cadwalladr [2023] KB 524 and [2022] 1 WLR 5236 (acting for the defendant in a high-profile libel case in which the public interest defence largely succeeded) [led by Gavin Millar KC]
  • Del Rosso v Stokoe Partnership Solicitors [2023] (acting for the claimant in a successful claim for delivery up of private and confidential information) [led by Adrian Waterman KC]
  • Wollenberg v Corker Binning [2022] (acting for the defendant in a libel claim arising from the publication of a case report – obtained reverse summary judgment as the statement was protected by qualified privilege)
  • Floreat Private Limited v Graham-Watson [2022] (acted for the defendant in a breach of confidence claim which was withdrawn on the eve of trial with an award of indemnity costs)
  • Cooper v Sison [2021] (acted for the defendant political refugee in a libel claim arising from publications that were critical of a foreign government – the claim was struck out)
  • Ashley v Times Newspapers [2021] EWHC 2082 (QB) (acted for the defendant in a libel claim arising from a publication in a national newspaper) [led by Anthony Hudson QC]
  • JKL v VBN [2019] EWHC 2227 (QB) and [2020] EWHC 458 (QB) (acted for the claimant obtaining a privacy injunction and resisting applications for specific and non-party disclosure) [led by Anthony Hudson QC and Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • Doyle v Smith [2019] EMLR 15 (acted for the defendant in a libel case concerning the application of the public interest defence to a blogger) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams QC]
  • Bains v Moore (acted for the claimants in a privacy, confidence and data protection case concerning corporate espionage) [led by Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • Tamiz v UK [2018] EMLR 6 (assisted with MLDI’s intervention in a case concerning the liability of internet intermediaries)
  • The NGN Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation

Aidan has also worked as a night lawyer at three national newspapers and is a contributing author to Matrix’s Online Publication Claims guide. He is a contributor to Phillip Coppel KC’s leading practitioner text on Information Rights and he has also written for the Entertainment Law Review, The Media Lawyer, McNae’s, LexisPSL and The Reporter.

With experience of data protection claims in both the private and public law spheres, Aidan’s practice covers (among other things) large scale data breaches, data sharing, publication claims concerning inaccurate data, data retention, and the data protection implications of new technologies. Aidan has particular expertise in the right to erasure (and associated rights) as it applies to both private and public sector organisations.

Aidan’s recent data protection cases include:

  • MAG v CPS [2023] (acting for the claimant in a privacy and data protection claim concerning the loss of sensitive information about a criminal investigation – secured a significant settlement)
  • Various claimants v Robert Dyas [2022] (acted for the defendant in a claim arising from an alleged data breach – most of the claims were withdrawn)
  • Rondon v LexisNexis Risk Solutions UK [2021] EWHC 1427 (QB) (acted for the claimant in a case concerning due diligence services and the liability of nominated representatives under Article 27 of the GDPR) [led by Hugh Tomlinson KC]
  • Google LLC v Lloyd [2021] 3 WLR 1268 (acted for interveners – Liberty, Coram and Inclusion London – in the landmark case on representative actions and the recovery of loss of control damages in data protection law) [led by Dan Squires QC]
  • R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037 (acted for the claimant in a challenge to the use of live facial recognition by police – this is the first reported case addressing DPIAs) [led by Dan Squires QC]

Aidan provides advice and representation in matters concerning the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as it applies to publications and other forms of conduct. His cases include:

  • Pande v Randhawa & Sandhu [2021] (acted for the defendants successfully resisting a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997)
  • Khan v Khan [2018] EWHC 241 (QB) (acted for the claimant in a harassment case involving siblings) [led by Hugh Tomlinson QC]

Aidan’s education law work covers judicial review, private law claims under the Equality Act 2010 and HRA 1998, and SEN appeals to the FTT and the Upper Tribunal. His work in this area has included issues relating to:

  • Admissions
  • Exclusions
  • Alternative educational provision and education otherwise than at school
  • Special educational provision and placement
  • Pupil referral units
  • Academisation and changes to academies (including faith-based designations)
  • The right to education under Article 2 of the First Protocol to the ECHR
  • School transportation
  • Challenges to universities hosting events

Aidan’s education judicial review cases include:

  • R (Holland Park School Parents Collective) v SSE [2022] EWHC 3159 (Admin) (a challenge to a consultation on a school’s move from a single to multi-academy trust) [led by David Wolfe KC]
  • R (AA) v Metropolitan Police [2019] (a challenge to the deployment of police officers in schools without proper consideration of the equalities implications – this led to a commitment to undertake proper monitoring) [led by Sarah Hannett]
  • R (AA & CC) v Gloucestershire County Council [2019] (a challenge to a local authority’s policy/practice on the quantification of special educational provision in EHCPs) [led by Sarah Hannett]

Aidan has appeared in FTT and Upper Tribunal appeals concerning the content of EHCPs, placements, and refusals to assess/ issue. He successfully represented the appellants in the following Upper Tribunal cases:

  • ET v Buckinghamshire Council [2022] (concerning the award of costs in an FTT appeal)
  • JE v Croydon LBC [2018] (concerning a refusal to assess a child for SEN)
  • GK v North Somerset [2018] UKUT 259 (AAC) (concerning the making of special educational provision outside term time)

Aidan also represents parents challenging permanent exclusions before Independent Review Panels and governing bodies, and has served as a clerk to a governing body’s disciplinary committee. He has also advised on challenges to examination results.

In the context of higher education, Aidan has acted for universities and students in claims for breach of contract and under the Equality Act 2010.

Aidan’s prison law work covers issues ranging from (re)categorisation decisions to segregation, access to corporate worship, placement in close supervision and separation centres, licence conditions, release on Home Detention Curfew, and decisions of the Parole Board. His cases include:

  • R (Awale) v SSJ [2022] (ongoing case concerning a prisoner’s de facto solitary confinement in the close supervision centre system) [led by Dan Squires KC]
  • R (Thakrar) v SSJ [2022] (ongoing case concerning a prisoner’s long-term solitary confinement for passive non-compliance with the regime in the close supervision centre system) [led by Nick Armstrong KC]
  • R (H. Syed) v SSJ [2021] (successful challenge to a prisoner’s solitary confinement)
  • R (Orlebar-Forbes) v SSJ [2018] (successful challenge to a prisoner’s selection for and detention in the Separation Centre)
  • R (Elsemait) v SSJ [2018] (a systemic challenge concerning the giving of reasons to segregated prisoners which led to changes to training and monitoring practices) [led by Dan Squires QC]

Aidan’s civil claims prison work has covered challenges to the misuse of a prisoner’s personal data, segregation, restrictions on collective worship, and assaults on prisoners. He also represents prisoners before the Parole Board.

Aidan’s police law practice covers both judicial review and civil claims. He has been instructed in challenges concerning stop and search, port stops, and equalities issues arising from the exercise of police powers.

Aidan also provides advice and representation on the (mise)use of information by police, including through the use of novel surveillance methods. This included the first case concerning live facial recognition (R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037). Aidan has considerable experience of the regime governing erasure/deletion of local and national police records; he is the co-author of a forthcoming book on this subject:  Criminal Records, Privacy and Criminal Justice System 2nd ed. (Bloomsbury, 2024).

Aidan’s equality and discrimination law practice is primarily in judicial review claims concerning allegations of discrimination by public bodies. In this context, he is regularly instructed in substantive discrimination claims arising under Article 14 of the ECHR and the Equality Act 2010. Aidan also has considerable experience of challenges concerning breaches of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under s.149 of the Equality Act. His cases have included:

  • R (YVR) v Birmingham City Council [2023] (an ongoing Article 14 & PSED challenge to the treatment of severely disabled people in the context of social care charging) [led by Dan Squires KC]
  • R (JENGbA) v DPP [2022] (a challenge to the DPP’s failure to monitor the equalities implications of joint enterprise prosecutions – this led to an agreement to introduce pilot and nationwide monitoring schemes) [led by Raj Desai]
  • R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037 (the leading case on the application of the PSED to the use of new technologies by police) [led by Dan Squires QC]
  • R (StopWatch) v SSHD [2021] (a challenge to the Home Office’s failure to comply with the PSED prior to removing safeguards on suspicionless stop and searches which disproportionately impact particular groups) [led by Raj Desai]
  • R (AA) v Metropolitan Police [2019] (a challenge to the deployment of police officers in schools without proper consideration of the equalities implications – this led to a commitment to undertake monitoring) [led by Sarah Hannett]

Aidan has also acted for claimants and respondents in the context of discrimination claims arising in the context of employment, education, trade organisations and the provision of goods & services (including transport).

Aidan has experience of both the public and private law aspects of the disclosure of information arising from criminal investigations and convictions, including:

  • Appeals against DBS barring decisions
  • Challenges to the content of Enhanced Criminal Records Certificates and decisions of the Independent Monitor
  • Privacy and data protection claims arising from the publication of information about police investigations and spent convictions
  • Exercising the right to erasure against primary publishers and search engine operators, including through civil claims and complaints to the ICO
  • Advising on a public law challenge to a Notification Order under the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Securing the amendment of a Notification Order under the Magistrates’ Court’s civil slip rule jurisdiction

Aidan is a co-author of the forthcoming Criminal Records, Privacy and Criminal Justice System 2nd ed. (Bloomsbury). In 2019 he co-organised an interdisciplinary conference on this topic, bringing together public, criminal and information law specialists.

Aidan has provided advice and representation on production orders and investigatory powers touching on journalistic and source material. His work in this area has included:

  • Representing media organisations in the Metropolitan Police’s applications for production orders under the Terrorism Act 2000 concerning the so-called “Beatles” cell.
  • Advising on resisting applications for production orders under the Charities Act 2011.
  • Acting for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the challenge to the UK’s bulk surveillance regimes before the ECtHR.
  • Advising on responses to the Law Commission’s proposals on the reform of official secrecy laws, and the consultation on the Codes of Practice under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

Aidan is regularly instructed in privacy, data protection and public law cases in which restrictions on open justice are sought and/or resisted. Aidan acted for the media (led by Gavin Millar QC) in a leading case on open justice (DSD & ors v Parole Board & SSJ [2019] QB 285) which led to a change of the Parole Board Rules on the making public of information about proceedings. He has been involved in a number of applications to protect the rights of non-parties named in legal proceedings, including in the successful appeal against the identification of a non-party about whom allegations of criminal conduct were made in Employment Tribunal proceedings (TYU v Ila Spa [2022] ICR 287).

Aidan is also the co-author (with Eleanor Mitchell) of a guide on this subject: Restrictions on Open Justice: A Guide for Public Law Practitioners (2023).

Prior to coming to the Bar, Aidan worked for eight years doing legal policy work on national security and human rights as a researcher, trainer and adviser. He has acted as a consultant (while at the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and as an independent consultant) to (among others) the European Parliament, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-terrorism and Human Rights. Aidan also published, lectured and delivered training sessions on security sector governance in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He played a prominent role in drafting the “UN Compilation of good practices on intelligence agencies and their oversight”, and the “Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information (Tshwane Principles)”.

Aidan holds a first-class honours degree in Politics from the University of Nottingham, an M.A. in International Affairs (distinction equivalent) from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva), and a Graduate Diploma in Law (Dist.) from BPP University.

Aidan is an ADR Group Accredited Civil & Commercial Mediator and speaks French to an advanced level.

Aidan has published widely (both prior to and since coming to the Bar), his publications include:

  • Blackstone’s Guide to the Human Rights Act 8th (OUP: forthcoming 2024) [co-author with John Wadham, Raj Desai, Sarah Hannett KC, Jessica Jones and Eleanor Mitchell]
  • Criminal Records, Privacy and Criminal Justice System 2nd (Bloomsbury: forthcoming 2024) [co-author with Edward Jones and Jessica Jones]
  • “National Security and Education Law” in R. Ward and D. Blundell, National Security Law, Procedure, and Practice 2nd (OUP: forthcoming 2024) [contributing author with Sarah Hannett KC and Mark Greaves]
  • Restrictions on Open Justice: A Guide for Public Law Practitioners (Matrix Chambers: 2023) [co-author with Eleanor Mitchell]
  • “Commercial and other confidentiality” and “Common law rights and controls” in P. Coppell KC, Information Rights (Hart Publishing: 2023) [contributing author]
  • “Liability for Online Publication: Defamation, Malicious Falsehood and Harassment” and “Liability for Online Publication: Breach of Confidence, Misuse of Private Information and Data Protection” in H. Tomlinson QC and Guy Vassall-Adams KC, Online Publication Claims: A Practical Guide (Matrix Chambers: 2017) [contributing author with Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • Democratic and Effective Oversight of National Security Services (Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe: 2015) [sole author]
  • Making International Intelligence Cooperation Accountable (Parliament of Norway: 2015) [co-author with Hans Born and Ian Leigh]
  • Parliamentary Oversight of Security and Intelligence Agencies in the European Union (European Parliament: 2011) [co-author with Matthias Vermeulen]
  • International Intelligence Cooperation and Accountability (Routledge: 2011) [editor and contributing author, with Hans Born and Ian Leigh]

Aidan Wills is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to his clients, including advice and representation services, Aidan needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes his client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matters in which he is instructed. To read Aidan’s privacy notice in full, please see here.

Aidan is regulated by the Bar Standards Board and accepts instructions under Standard Contractual Terms. To find out more information on this and the way we work at Matrix, including our fee transparency statement, please see our see our service standards

DIRECTORY RECOMMENDATIONS

"Aidan's expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional. He is an asset to any data protection claim and a highly competent junior." "Aidan has a broad practice and a lot of knowledge. He is very sensible and clever."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Defamation & Privacy

"Aidan is incredibly generous with his time and knowledge; he has an excellent grasp of issues and thinks very strategically." "He is a highly competent junior; his expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"Aidan Willis is knowledgeable and good at applying public law knowledge which is helpful. He's a good communicator and puts things in an understandable and accessible form." "Aidan's expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional. He is an asset to any data protection claim and is a highly competent junior."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Data Protection

"Aidan has extensive knowledge and understanding of data protection law and the overlapping areas, as well as good judgement. He is a good communicator and is able to deliver advice in an accessible manner to clients."

Legal 500, 2024, Data Protection

"He is very focused on trying to use public law to bring challenges that are of concern to society. He has an ability to home in on the critical issues."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"He runs cases with authority, intuition and confidence."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"It was a very tough case, and he ran it with authority, intuition and confidence. Clients love working with him. He is an important person in the technology and human rights overlap."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

"Aidan is just terrific. What's great is that his practice is wider than a single area; he offers real depth of knowledge and benefit to clients."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Data Protection

Rising Star: “A clear, engaging and persuasive advocate with good judgement.”

Legal 500, 2024, Data Protection

"Aidan is incredibly generous with his time and knowledge; he has an excellent grasp of issues and thinks very strategically." "He is a highly competent junior; his expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"He is willing to go above and beyond and is incredibly empathetic with clients." "He is incredibly bright, hard-working, and his writing is excellent."

Chambers & Partners, 2023, Administrative & Public Law

"He has a really good grasp of issues and sees issues in a progressive way which is helpful in a fast-developing area." "He's very user-friendly; he'll phone up and get involved and is always thinking about the case."

Chambers & Partners, 2023, Data Protection

"He is willing to go above and beyond and is incredibly empathetic with clients." "He is incredibly bright, hard-working, and his writing is excellent."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Administrative & Public Law

"He has a really good grasp of issues and sees issues in a progressive way which is helpful in a fast-developing area." "He's very user-friendly; he'll phone up and get involved and is always thinking about the case."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Data Protection
Matrix Chambers
24 HOUR ASSISTANCE
+44 (0)20 7404 3447
Aidan Wills
Called: 2015

Aidan became a member of Matrix in October 2016 following the successful completion of his traineeship.

MAIN AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Public Law
  • Civil Liberties and Human Rights
  • Equality and Discrimination Law
  • Media and Information Law
  • Defamation and Privacy
  • Data Protection
  • Harassment 
  • Court Orders affecting the Media
  • Police, Inquests and Prison
  • Education Law
  • Public Law: Information, Data and Privacy

Aidan Wills

Contact Aidan: aidanwills@matrixlaw.co.uk | +44 (0)20 7404 3447

Contact Aidan's Practice Team (Team M): TeamM@matrixlaw.co.uk


Aidan specialises in public law and human rights, media and information law, and equality and discrimination law. After training at Matrix, he commenced practice in 2016. Aidan has acted in leading cases across these practice areas. He has appeared at all levels up to the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights. Aidan is ranked by the directories in the areas of Administrative/Public Law, Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Defamation and Privacy and Data Protection.

Public Law and Human Rights

Aidan’s diverse public law and human rights practice covers policing, prisons, national security, surveillance, education, social welfare, and the disclosure and barring regime. His clients have included individuals, NGOs, media organisations, universities and a political party. Aidan’s practice in these areas is addressed in more detail under the subheadings below. His public law and human rights cases include:

  • R (YVR) v Birmingham City Council [2023] (adult social care charging policy) [led by Dan Squires KC]
  • R (Dos Reis) v SSHD [2023] (GPS tracking of migrants) [led by Chris Buttler KC]
  • R (Holland Park School Parents Collective) v SSE [2022] EWHC 3159 (Admin) (consultation on a school’s move from a single to multi-academy trust) [led by David Wolfe KC]
  • R (Thakrar) v SSHD [2022] (solitary confinement of a prisoner in the Close Supervision Centre) [led by Nick Armstrong KC]
  • R (JENGbA) v DPP [2022] (equalities implications of joint enterprise prosecutions) [led by Raj Desai]
  • R (Bell) v Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust [2022] 1 All ER 416 (policy on the administration of puberty blockers to children) [led by Paul Skinner]
  • R (StopWatch) v SSHD [2021] (equalities implications of suspicionless stop and search) [led by Raj Desai]
  • Bureau Investigative Journalism, Big Brother Watch & ors v UK [2022] 74 EHRR 17 (mass surveillance under RIPA 2000) [led by Gavin Millar QC]
  • R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037 (police of use of live facial recognition) [led by Dan Squires QC]
  • R (EDC) v SSHD [2020] (gathering and retention of private and privileged information from trafficking victims) [led by Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • R (Liberal Democrats) v ITV [2020] 4 WLR 4 (a political party’s exclusion from televised election debates) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams QC]
  • R (AA) v Metropolitan Police [2019] (deployment of police officers in schools) [led by Sarah Hannett]
  • R (DSD) v Parole Board [2019] QB 285 (restrictions on open justice in Parole Board proceedings) [led by Gavin Millar QC]
  • R (Orlebar-Forbes) v SSJ [2018] (holding a prisoner in the Separation Centre)
  • R (Buckingham) v Corby CCG [2018] EWHC 2080 (Admin) (closure of NHS services) [led by Sarah Sackman].
  • R (MRN) v SSHD and SSH [2018] (primary healthcare providers sharing patient data with the Home Office for immigration enforcement) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams QC]

Aidan has particular expertise in the collection (including through surveillance and the use of new technologies), retention and sharing of information by public bodies. His work in this area has included appearing landmark cases on the use of live facial recognition technology by the police (for which he was awarded The Lawyer’s Barrister of the Week) (Bridges), 24-hour GPS surveillance against migrants (Dos Reis), and the UK’s bulk surveillance regime (Bureau of Investigate Journalism), as well as advising on the human rights implications of communications service providers being mandated to scan users’ communications under the (then) Online Safety Bill.

Aidan has experience of making urgent applications for interim relief in judicial review cases and applications to the European Court of Human Rights.

Defamation, Privacy and Breach of Confidence

Aidan is regularly instructed (led and unled) in high-profile High Court privacy, libel, and breach of confidence litigation. He acts for both claimants and defendants; his clients have ranged from celebrities to refugees, national newspapers, investigative journalists, charities, large corporations and regulators.

Aidan has experience of cases concerning the identification of anonymous publishers (including by way of Norwich Pharmacal relief and self-identification orders); relief against persons unknown; notice-and-takedown procedures; and the liability of internet service providers.

His recent/ongoing cases include:

  • Sinton v Maybourne Hotels Ltd [2023] (acting for the defendant in a libel, malicious falsehood and data protection claim arising in the context of hotel construction) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams KC]
  • Banks v Cadwalladr [2023] KB 524 and [2022] 1 WLR 5236 (acting for the defendant in a high-profile libel case in which the public interest defence largely succeeded) [led by Gavin Millar KC]
  • Del Rosso v Stokoe Partnership Solicitors [2023] (acting for the claimant in a successful claim for delivery up of private and confidential information) [led by Adrian Waterman KC]
  • Wollenberg v Corker Binning [2022] (acting for the defendant in a libel claim arising from the publication of a case report – obtained reverse summary judgment as the statement was protected by qualified privilege)
  • Floreat Private Limited v Graham-Watson [2022] (acted for the defendant in a breach of confidence claim which was withdrawn on the eve of trial with an award of indemnity costs)
  • Cooper v Sison [2021] (acted for the defendant political refugee in a libel claim arising from publications that were critical of a foreign government – the claim was struck out)
  • Ashley v Times Newspapers [2021] EWHC 2082 (QB) (acted for the defendant in a libel claim arising from a publication in a national newspaper) [led by Anthony Hudson QC]
  • JKL v VBN [2019] EWHC 2227 (QB) and [2020] EWHC 458 (QB) (acted for the claimant obtaining a privacy injunction and resisting applications for specific and non-party disclosure) [led by Anthony Hudson QC and Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • Doyle v Smith [2019] EMLR 15 (acted for the defendant in a libel case concerning the application of the public interest defence to a blogger) [led by Guy Vassall-Adams QC]
  • Bains v Moore (acted for the claimants in a privacy, confidence and data protection case concerning corporate espionage) [led by Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • Tamiz v UK [2018] EMLR 6 (assisted with MLDI’s intervention in a case concerning the liability of internet intermediaries)
  • The NGN Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation

Aidan has also worked as a night lawyer at three national newspapers and is a contributing author to Matrix’s Online Publication Claims guide. He is a contributor to Phillip Coppel KC’s leading practitioner text on Information Rights and he has also written for the Entertainment Law Review, The Media Lawyer, McNae’s, LexisPSL and The Reporter.

Data Protection

With experience of data protection claims in both the private and public law spheres, Aidan’s practice covers (among other things) large scale data breaches, data sharing, publication claims concerning inaccurate data, data retention, and the data protection implications of new technologies. Aidan has particular expertise in the right to erasure (and associated rights) as it applies to both private and public sector organisations.

Aidan’s recent data protection cases include:

  • MAG v CPS [2023] (acting for the claimant in a privacy and data protection claim concerning the loss of sensitive information about a criminal investigation – secured a significant settlement)
  • Various claimants v Robert Dyas [2022] (acted for the defendant in a claim arising from an alleged data breach – most of the claims were withdrawn)
  • Rondon v LexisNexis Risk Solutions UK [2021] EWHC 1427 (QB) (acted for the claimant in a case concerning due diligence services and the liability of nominated representatives under Article 27 of the GDPR) [led by Hugh Tomlinson KC]
  • Google LLC v Lloyd [2021] 3 WLR 1268 (acted for interveners – Liberty, Coram and Inclusion London – in the landmark case on representative actions and the recovery of loss of control damages in data protection law) [led by Dan Squires QC]
  • R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037 (acted for the claimant in a challenge to the use of live facial recognition by police – this is the first reported case addressing DPIAs) [led by Dan Squires QC]

Harassment

Aidan provides advice and representation in matters concerning the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as it applies to publications and other forms of conduct. His cases include:

  • Pande v Randhawa & Sandhu [2021] (acted for the defendants successfully resisting a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997)
  • Khan v Khan [2018] EWHC 241 (QB) (acted for the claimant in a harassment case involving siblings) [led by Hugh Tomlinson QC]

Education Law

Aidan’s education law work covers judicial review, private law claims under the Equality Act 2010 and HRA 1998, and SEN appeals to the FTT and the Upper Tribunal. His work in this area has included issues relating to:

  • Admissions
  • Exclusions
  • Alternative educational provision and education otherwise than at school
  • Special educational provision and placement
  • Pupil referral units
  • Academisation and changes to academies (including faith-based designations)
  • The right to education under Article 2 of the First Protocol to the ECHR
  • School transportation
  • Challenges to universities hosting events

Aidan’s education judicial review cases include:

  • R (Holland Park School Parents Collective) v SSE [2022] EWHC 3159 (Admin) (a challenge to a consultation on a school’s move from a single to multi-academy trust) [led by David Wolfe KC]
  • R (AA) v Metropolitan Police [2019] (a challenge to the deployment of police officers in schools without proper consideration of the equalities implications – this led to a commitment to undertake proper monitoring) [led by Sarah Hannett]
  • R (AA & CC) v Gloucestershire County Council [2019] (a challenge to a local authority’s policy/practice on the quantification of special educational provision in EHCPs) [led by Sarah Hannett]

Aidan has appeared in FTT and Upper Tribunal appeals concerning the content of EHCPs, placements, and refusals to assess/ issue. He successfully represented the appellants in the following Upper Tribunal cases:

  • ET v Buckinghamshire Council [2022] (concerning the award of costs in an FTT appeal)
  • JE v Croydon LBC [2018] (concerning a refusal to assess a child for SEN)
  • GK v North Somerset [2018] UKUT 259 (AAC) (concerning the making of special educational provision outside term time)

Aidan also represents parents challenging permanent exclusions before Independent Review Panels and governing bodies, and has served as a clerk to a governing body’s disciplinary committee. He has also advised on challenges to examination results.

In the context of higher education, Aidan has acted for universities and students in claims for breach of contract and under the Equality Act 2010.

Prison Law

Aidan’s prison law work covers issues ranging from (re)categorisation decisions to segregation, access to corporate worship, placement in close supervision and separation centres, licence conditions, release on Home Detention Curfew, and decisions of the Parole Board. His cases include:

  • R (Awale) v SSJ [2022] (ongoing case concerning a prisoner’s de facto solitary confinement in the close supervision centre system) [led by Dan Squires KC]
  • R (Thakrar) v SSJ [2022] (ongoing case concerning a prisoner’s long-term solitary confinement for passive non-compliance with the regime in the close supervision centre system) [led by Nick Armstrong KC]
  • R (H. Syed) v SSJ [2021] (successful challenge to a prisoner’s solitary confinement)
  • R (Orlebar-Forbes) v SSJ [2018] (successful challenge to a prisoner’s selection for and detention in the Separation Centre)
  • R (Elsemait) v SSJ [2018] (a systemic challenge concerning the giving of reasons to segregated prisoners which led to changes to training and monitoring practices) [led by Dan Squires QC]

Aidan’s civil claims prison work has covered challenges to the misuse of a prisoner’s personal data, segregation, restrictions on collective worship, and assaults on prisoners. He also represents prisoners before the Parole Board.

Police Law

Aidan’s police law practice covers both judicial review and civil claims. He has been instructed in challenges concerning stop and search, port stops, and equalities issues arising from the exercise of police powers.

Aidan also provides advice and representation on the (mise)use of information by police, including through the use of novel surveillance methods. This included the first case concerning live facial recognition (R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037). Aidan has considerable experience of the regime governing erasure/deletion of local and national police records; he is the co-author of a forthcoming book on this subject:  Criminal Records, Privacy and Criminal Justice System 2nd ed. (Bloomsbury, 2024).

Equality and Discrimination Law

Aidan’s equality and discrimination law practice is primarily in judicial review claims concerning allegations of discrimination by public bodies. In this context, he is regularly instructed in substantive discrimination claims arising under Article 14 of the ECHR and the Equality Act 2010. Aidan also has considerable experience of challenges concerning breaches of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under s.149 of the Equality Act. His cases have included:

  • R (YVR) v Birmingham City Council [2023] (an ongoing Article 14 & PSED challenge to the treatment of severely disabled people in the context of social care charging) [led by Dan Squires KC]
  • R (JENGbA) v DPP [2022] (a challenge to the DPP’s failure to monitor the equalities implications of joint enterprise prosecutions – this led to an agreement to introduce pilot and nationwide monitoring schemes) [led by Raj Desai]
  • R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] 1 WLR 5037 (the leading case on the application of the PSED to the use of new technologies by police) [led by Dan Squires QC]
  • R (StopWatch) v SSHD [2021] (a challenge to the Home Office’s failure to comply with the PSED prior to removing safeguards on suspicionless stop and searches which disproportionately impact particular groups) [led by Raj Desai]
  • R (AA) v Metropolitan Police [2019] (a challenge to the deployment of police officers in schools without proper consideration of the equalities implications – this led to a commitment to undertake monitoring) [led by Sarah Hannett]

Aidan has also acted for claimants and respondents in the context of discrimination claims arising in the context of employment, education, trade organisations and the provision of goods & services (including transport).

Criminal Records, Disclosure and Barring

Aidan has experience of both the public and private law aspects of the disclosure of information arising from criminal investigations and convictions, including:

  • Appeals against DBS barring decisions
  • Challenges to the content of Enhanced Criminal Records Certificates and decisions of the Independent Monitor
  • Privacy and data protection claims arising from the publication of information about police investigations and spent convictions
  • Exercising the right to erasure against primary publishers and search engine operators, including through civil claims and complaints to the ICO
  • Advising on a public law challenge to a Notification Order under the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Securing the amendment of a Notification Order under the Magistrates’ Court’s civil slip rule jurisdiction

Aidan is a co-author of the forthcoming Criminal Records, Privacy and Criminal Justice System 2nd ed. (Bloomsbury). In 2019 he co-organised an interdisciplinary conference on this topic, bringing together public, criminal and information law specialists.

Production Orders, Search Warrants And Investigatory Powers / Court Orders Affecting The Media

Aidan has provided advice and representation on production orders and investigatory powers touching on journalistic and source material. His work in this area has included:

  • Representing media organisations in the Metropolitan Police’s applications for production orders under the Terrorism Act 2000 concerning the so-called “Beatles” cell.
  • Advising on resisting applications for production orders under the Charities Act 2011.
  • Acting for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the challenge to the UK’s bulk surveillance regimes before the ECtHR.
  • Advising on responses to the Law Commission’s proposals on the reform of official secrecy laws, and the consultation on the Codes of Practice under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

(Restrictions On) Open Justice

Aidan is regularly instructed in privacy, data protection and public law cases in which restrictions on open justice are sought and/or resisted. Aidan acted for the media (led by Gavin Millar QC) in a leading case on open justice (DSD & ors v Parole Board & SSJ [2019] QB 285) which led to a change of the Parole Board Rules on the making public of information about proceedings. He has been involved in a number of applications to protect the rights of non-parties named in legal proceedings, including in the successful appeal against the identification of a non-party about whom allegations of criminal conduct were made in Employment Tribunal proceedings (TYU v Ila Spa [2022] ICR 287).

Aidan is also the co-author (with Eleanor Mitchell) of a guide on this subject: Restrictions on Open Justice: A Guide for Public Law Practitioners (2023).

Other Experience and Education

Prior to coming to the Bar, Aidan worked for eight years doing legal policy work on national security and human rights as a researcher, trainer and adviser. He has acted as a consultant (while at the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and as an independent consultant) to (among others) the European Parliament, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-terrorism and Human Rights. Aidan also published, lectured and delivered training sessions on security sector governance in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He played a prominent role in drafting the “UN Compilation of good practices on intelligence agencies and their oversight”, and the “Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information (Tshwane Principles)”.

Aidan holds a first-class honours degree in Politics from the University of Nottingham, an M.A. in International Affairs (distinction equivalent) from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva), and a Graduate Diploma in Law (Dist.) from BPP University.

Aidan is an ADR Group Accredited Civil & Commercial Mediator and speaks French to an advanced level.

Publications

Aidan has published widely (both prior to and since coming to the Bar), his publications include:

  • Blackstone’s Guide to the Human Rights Act 8th (OUP: forthcoming 2024) [co-author with John Wadham, Raj Desai, Sarah Hannett KC, Jessica Jones and Eleanor Mitchell]
  • Criminal Records, Privacy and Criminal Justice System 2nd (Bloomsbury: forthcoming 2024) [co-author with Edward Jones and Jessica Jones]
  • “National Security and Education Law” in R. Ward and D. Blundell, National Security Law, Procedure, and Practice 2nd (OUP: forthcoming 2024) [contributing author with Sarah Hannett KC and Mark Greaves]
  • Restrictions on Open Justice: A Guide for Public Law Practitioners (Matrix Chambers: 2023) [co-author with Eleanor Mitchell]
  • “Commercial and other confidentiality” and “Common law rights and controls” in P. Coppell KC, Information Rights (Hart Publishing: 2023) [contributing author]
  • “Liability for Online Publication: Defamation, Malicious Falsehood and Harassment” and “Liability for Online Publication: Breach of Confidence, Misuse of Private Information and Data Protection” in H. Tomlinson QC and Guy Vassall-Adams KC, Online Publication Claims: A Practical Guide (Matrix Chambers: 2017) [contributing author with Hugh Tomlinson QC]
  • Democratic and Effective Oversight of National Security Services (Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe: 2015) [sole author]
  • Making International Intelligence Cooperation Accountable (Parliament of Norway: 2015) [co-author with Hans Born and Ian Leigh]
  • Parliamentary Oversight of Security and Intelligence Agencies in the European Union (European Parliament: 2011) [co-author with Matthias Vermeulen]
  • International Intelligence Cooperation and Accountability (Routledge: 2011) [editor and contributing author, with Hans Born and Ian Leigh]

Aidan's Privacy Notice

Aidan Wills is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to his clients, including advice and representation services, Aidan needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes his client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matters in which he is instructed. To read Aidan’s privacy notice in full, please see here.


DIRECTORY RECOMMENDATIONS

"Aidan's expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional. He is an asset to any data protection claim and a highly competent junior." "Aidan has a broad practice and a lot of knowledge. He is very sensible and clever."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Defamation & Privacy

"Aidan is incredibly generous with his time and knowledge; he has an excellent grasp of issues and thinks very strategically." "He is a highly competent junior; his expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"Aidan Willis is knowledgeable and good at applying public law knowledge which is helpful. He's a good communicator and puts things in an understandable and accessible form." "Aidan's expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional. He is an asset to any data protection claim and is a highly competent junior."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Data Protection

"Aidan has extensive knowledge and understanding of data protection law and the overlapping areas, as well as good judgement. He is a good communicator and is able to deliver advice in an accessible manner to clients."

Legal 500, 2024, Data Protection

"He is very focused on trying to use public law to bring challenges that are of concern to society. He has an ability to home in on the critical issues."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"He runs cases with authority, intuition and confidence."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"It was a very tough case, and he ran it with authority, intuition and confidence. Clients love working with him. He is an important person in the technology and human rights overlap."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

"Aidan is just terrific. What's great is that his practice is wider than a single area; he offers real depth of knowledge and benefit to clients."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Data Protection

Rising Star: “A clear, engaging and persuasive advocate with good judgement.”

Legal 500, 2024, Data Protection

"Aidan is incredibly generous with his time and knowledge; he has an excellent grasp of issues and thinks very strategically." "He is a highly competent junior; his expertise on the use of data by public bodies is exceptional."

Chambers & Partners, 2024, Administrative & Public Law

"He is willing to go above and beyond and is incredibly empathetic with clients." "He is incredibly bright, hard-working, and his writing is excellent."

Chambers & Partners, 2023, Administrative & Public Law

"He has a really good grasp of issues and sees issues in a progressive way which is helpful in a fast-developing area." "He's very user-friendly; he'll phone up and get involved and is always thinking about the case."

Chambers & Partners, 2023, Data Protection

"He is willing to go above and beyond and is incredibly empathetic with clients." "He is incredibly bright, hard-working, and his writing is excellent."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Administrative & Public Law

"He has a really good grasp of issues and sees issues in a progressive way which is helpful in a fast-developing area." "He's very user-friendly; he'll phone up and get involved and is always thinking about the case."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Data Protection