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David Wolfe works as a public lawyer (QC) at Matrix. He is also Chair of the Recognition Panel established by the Royal Charter in the light of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the news publishers.

Until April 2013, alongside his work as a barrister David was also a Commissioner (non-executive director) at the Legal Services Commission and a Board Member of the Legal Services Board.

Until July 2008, he was a part-time Chair of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. David is an A-Panel member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Panel of Preferred Counsel.

David also trains lawyers and others, particularly in education and public law. He contributes regularly to general and specialist publications and radio broadcasts on legal issues.  David is an ADR Group Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator.

David believes passionately that public bodies should act in a fair and open way, and that the law and lawyers have a key role in ensuring that happens.

As a public lawyer, David specialises in “judicial review” challenges to the decisions of, among others, government, regulators (including environmental and professional regulators), local authorities, schools and health bodies. David has particular expertise in:

David’s clients include: individuals (typically people seeking their legal entitlement to public services and to lawful decisions), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), such as Wild Justice, Talk Fracking, Friends of the Earth, WWF, Client Earth, the RSPB, the Woodland Trust, Humanists UK, the National Secular Society, Badger Trust, RSPCA, Guide Dogs, IPSEA (the Independent Provider of  Special Educational Advice), An Taisce (the Irish National Trust) and HS2AA (HS2 Action Alliance) and bodies such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

David’s recent and current cases include:

  • Acting for Friends of the Earth in its challenge arising from the climate change impacts of the proposed Heathrow expansion.
  • Acting for Chris Packham in relation to the environmentally harmful consequences of the HS2 railway development
  • Acting for Wild Justice challenging the failure to ensure that game birds are only released for sport shooting if their impact on EU Natura 2000 sites has been properly assessed first
  • Acting for Menston Parish Council challenging Bradford’s decision to allow the widening of a watercourse in a way which increases the risk of down-stream flooding
  • Acting for a parent challenging the legality of plans to expand a faith school rather than a community school in Wales
  • Acting for the Sikh Federation challenging the Government’s decision not to identify ‘Sikh’ as an ethnicity option in the 2021 census
  • Acting for health campaigners challenging the legality of a major hospital reorganisation in Hertfordshire
  • Acting for social housing campaigners challenging the failure of the Elephant and Castle redevelopment scheme to include sufficient social housing
  • Acting for people on the housing list in Lambeth challenging its Temp2Settle scheme which misleads them into losing their place on the list
  • Acting for Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Ground in challenging the first modern decision to authorise a new coal mine in England
  • Acting for The Anti Sizewell Campaign challenging the enabling works for the Sizewell C nuclear power station
  • Acting for the Independent Schools Inspectorate in the Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry
  • Acting for individual humanists challenging the refusal to allow them to be members of Local Authority Standing Advisory Council’s on Religious Education
  • Acting for a range of affected people across the world challenging the legality of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive’s approach to the burning of biomass
  • Acting for Client Earth and the Marine Conservation Society challenging the amendments made to the Habitats Directive as part of the Brexit process
  • Acting for a consortium of environmental NGOs challenging the compliance of the UK system of judicial review with the Aarhus Convention
  • Acting for a London resident in his challenge to the Mayor’s decision to close police station counters in London.
  • Acting for local anti-fracking groups including at Preston New Road in Lancashire.
  • Acting for parents at various maintained schools challenging the legality of proposals to convert them into academies.
  • Acting for Talk Fracking challenging the government’s failure to take into account up to date evidence on the climate change impact of fracking.
  • Acting for parents challenging the approach to ‘god’ and Christian worship in their local primary school.
  • Acting for Wild Justice in its challenges to the ‘general licence’ scheme in England and in Wales which allows for widespread unjustified killing of wild birds.
  • Acting for the Equality and Human Rights Commission challenging the legality of the NHS’s approach to fertility preservation for trans patients.
  • Acting for a disabled woman challenging the legality of Birmingham’s consultation on plans to reorganize its day-centre provision.
  • Acting for Mark Avery in his challenge to the legality of a proposed Hen Harrier ‘brood management’ scheme.
  • Acting for a disabled man challenging a CCG’s decision to fund a care plan only sufficient for a nursing home, rather than supporting him to return home.
  • Acting for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the Supreme Court’s consideration of whether parents can agree to their 17 year old children being locked up.
  • Acting for an anti-fracking campaigner challenging the legality of the Government’s scheme for extending fracking licences.
  • Acting for a teenager with SEN challenging the legality of Leeds’ proposals only to provide 3 day a week post 16 placements.
  • Acting for a Haringey resident challenging the Council’s decision to set up a partnership with a private developer (the HDV) to redevelop all the Council’s property assets including homes
  • Acting for the RSPB, Client Earth and Friends of the Earth in their legal challenge to new court costs rules which will make it harder to bring environmental legal challenges.
  • Acting for residents in their legal challenge to a new parking scheme in Hammersmith and Fulham.
  • Acting for Chancepixies, an animal welfare charity, in its legal challenges to licences issued to ‘puppy farms’.
  • Acting for children challenging Oxfordshire’s decision to close its Children’s Centres.
  • Acting for local campaigners and Friends of the Earth challenging the legality of decisions to permit fracking including in Ryedale (North Yorkshire), in Balcombe (West Sussex) and Preston New Road (Lancashire).
  • Acting for Humanists UK in its challenge to the legality of the Religious Studies GCSE curriculum.
  • Acting for St Mary Magdalene Academy in its challenge to the Home Office’s refusal to allow its Chinese student exchange programme.
  • Acting for Shepherds Bush Market Tenants Association challenging the planned redevelopment of the market.
  • Acting for residents of Cressingham Estate challenging the legality of the decisions to demolish the estate.
  • Acting for hospital patients challenging the legality of the NHS Guidance which told doctors to pass their personal details to immigration officials.
  • Acting for Child Soldiers International challenging the legality of the rules for recruiting under 18s to the Army.
  • Acting for the children of a transgender woman challenging the way she was recorded on their birth certificates.
  • Acting for WWF and Fish Legal challenging the Government’s slow action on the impacts of farm pollution on EU protected Special Areas of Conservation.
  • Acting for buskers challenging Camden’s busking licensing scheme.
  • Acting for disabled people challenging cuts to community care services including in Merton and Birmingham.
  • Acting for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the recent Court of Appeal case which established that doctors are obliged to consult patients before imposing DNACPR Notices.
  • Acting for Badger Trust challenging the legality of the Government’s decision to allow badger culling in Somerset and Gloucestershire without it being subject to independent oversight and evaluation.
  • Acting for the Irish National Trust challenging the legality of the Government’s decision to grant planning permission for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station without consulting people in Ireland on its potential impact (from nuclear accidents) in Ireland.
  • Acting for severely disabled people challenging the legality of the Government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (which allows some 18,000 disabled people to live independently including living in the community, attending education and working).
  • Acting for the campaign group on behalf of some 172,000 people living along the route of HS2 challenging the legality of the Government’s compensation proposals.

David is regularly identified by the legal directories as a “leading” barrister in the areas in which he practices. He enjoys working as part of a close and relatively informal team with clients and those instructing him. He is flexible in how he applies his skill and experience, including as a lawyer, to meet his clients’ needs and will make sure that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made as needed.

David accepts instructions under the Bar Council Standard Contractual Terms, details of which can be found here.

Publications and Downloads

David Wolfe has produced an updated version of the 2017 Noddy Guide to Statements of SEN and EHC Plans. To download the latest (March 2019) version, click here. To download a comparative version of the 2018 and 2019 Noddy Guide, please click here.

David was interviewed for the Consultation Institute’s “Latest Law” video updates in Spring 2018 here (10m 40s in) and in Spring 2019 here (2m 35s in).

Privacy Notice

David is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy while collecting and holding personal data as needed to provide legal services to his clients. That includes the personal data of his clients and others who feature in the issues in question. To read David’s privacy notice in full, please see here.

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


“A brilliant and fearless advocate who shows outstanding commitment and skill in claimant environmental work.”

“He is an amazing advocate and strategic thinker. One of the best on his feet, and his presentation skills are second to none. He is the go-to silk for environmental claimants.”

“He has encyclopaedic knowledge and is a go-to person for academisation.”

“Intelligent, quick, bold and inventive.”

Legal 500 2021

“Phenomenally bright – he gets to the answer before we’ve even asked the question. He’s also really inclusive and loves working as part of the team. He’s always willing to draw in junior team members, and is very tactical and realistic.”

“He has an encyclopedic knowledge of education and equality law.”

“One of the most creative barristers I have ever worked with, he has the ability to single out issues which arise in the midst of incredibly complicated matters.”

“He’s very intelligent and is able to quickly think on his feet. He’s courageous and takes points others would be too reticent to take on.”

“He’s dogged, determined and prepared to take on difficult cases.”

“He’s absolutely brilliant and he can pick anything up and run with it.”

Chambers & Partners 2021

“Very responsive and approachable” (Administrative and Public Law)

“He is astute and strategic, an outstanding advocate.” “He is easy to work with, tenacious on his feet and clients love him.” (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

“Very adaptable and accessible in a way that means things are turned around quickly.” (Community Care)

“He’s so approachable, and always provides sensible and down-to-earth advice.” (Education)

“He is just excellent. Bright and very imaginative.” “A very clever advocate.” (Environment, Local Government)

Chambers & Partners, 2019

“An excellent community care practitioner.” (Court of Protection and Community Care)

“Incisive and tactically astute, he is in a league of his own on SEN cases.” (Education)

Legal 500, 2018

‘David Wolfe QC is ““very active in the field of environmental law”, regularly representing prominent clients in environmental legal challenges.’

Who’s Who Legal, 2018