Barrister Profile



Year of Call: 2005

Main Areas of Practice

Administrative Law or Judicial Review
Coroners or Inquests
Human Rights
Public Inquiries


Steven McQuitty is a judicial review barrister with expertise in human rights law, albeit accepting instructions across the entire range of public law work.

Steven was called to the Northern Irish Bar in 2005 and has been instructed in judicial review cases on a regular basis since 2007. Steven gained significant experience of immigration and asylum related judicial reviews during his first few years at the Bar.

Having been appointed to the Government Legal Service (GLS) panel in 2012, Steven spent the next five years undertaking public law cases for both applicants and respondent public authorities, giving a valuable sense of balance and perspective to his work and advices. Steven gained extensive experience advising and representing various public authorities and government departments.

In 2017, and with the benefit of that significant experience, Steven chose to focus on his work on behalf of applicants once again, while remaining available for instruction in accordance with the Bar Code of Conduct.

Steven also appears in the Immigration Tribunals (FTT and Upper Tribunal) and has wider experience of inquests and public inquiries appearing in the Billy Wright Inquiry, the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and the RHI Inquiry. Steven is currently Junior Counsel for several civil servants in the RHI Inquiry. Steven is also regularly instructed on behalf of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in judicial review and inquest matters.

Steven was Junior Counsel for the petitioner in X’s petition, the first legal challenge to be brought in Northern Ireland by a gay man seeking to have his same-sex marriage (conducted in England) recognised as a marriage under the law of Northern Ireland. Steven has also advised and represented the Rainbow Project in respect of several matters relating to the protection of LGBTQ rights in Northern Ireland. Steven was counsel in the landmark case of Re Smyth’s application for judicial review,regarding legal recognition of Humanist marriage in Northern Ireland. Although successful in the High Court that matter is currently on appeal.

Steven has a particular interest in public interest litigation and has been instructed by the Public Interest Litigation Support (PILS) Project or instructed in cases funded by them. Steven has experience of public interest cases involving integrated education, LGBTQ rights, marriage law, freedom of religion and belief and the rights of sex workers in Northern Ireland.

Steven has also been instructed by solicitors based in both England and Scotland in respect of immigration matters.

Steven is a member of the Coroner’s Panel and has appeared for Coroners in respect of judicial review challenges and as Counsel to the Coroner in inquests. Steven has also been approved as Developed Vetted (“DV”).

Steven has also undertaken advisory work for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ), the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) and the NASUWT.


2004; First class degree in Law LLB (Hons), University of Ulster

2005; Certificate in Professional Legal Studies, Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast

2015; Advocacy Training Board Pupil Foundation Training (Qualified Master)


Steven has appeared in the following sample of cases:

Steven has also delivered lectures and seminars on judicial review, human rights and immigration matters to the Young Bar and Young Solicitors Associations, Law Centre (NI), the University of Ulster and also delivered the keynote speech at University College Dublin for World Refugee Day on 20th June 2014.

In 2017 Steven provided staff training in respect of judicial review challenges for senior management within the Northern Ireland Prison Service in both HMP Maghaberry and HMP Magilligan.

Prior to coming to the Bar Steven gained experience while still a law student working as a paralegal in a busy criminal defence law firm during summer holidays and then as a volunteer intern for the charity Reprieve. In that capacity, Steven worked with Clive Stafford Smith in the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Centre in New Orleans, which seeks to defend those facing the death penalty in the United States (Summer 2003). Steven has also held part-time lectureships in law at the University of Ulster teaching human rights law for the 2004/2005 academic year.

Steven is a qualified Master and has had two pupils to date, Mr Gerard Pollock and Mr Andrew Beech. Mr Mark O’Hara is due to commence pupillage with Steven in September 2018.

Steven was a founding member of Lawyers with Pride and serves the Bar on the Equality and Diversity Committee. Lawyers with Pride established the Pride Law Lecture, with the inaugural lecture being delivered by Supreme Court Justice, Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore on 28 July 2017 at Queen’s University, Belfast.

This information is current as of November 2017.