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Gráinne Mellon

  • Call: 2010
Grainne Mellon


Gráinne is a public law specialist with particular expertise in human rights and equality law. Her practice includes immigration, unlawful detention and trafficking, community care and Court of Protection, children’s rights and discrimination law. She also has experience in public and private international children law.

Grainne regularly acts for vulnerable children and adults, as well as for charities and other organisations. Her expertise spans public and private law and she enjoys acting in complex trials involving cross-examination as much as arguing points of public law.

In addition to her domestic practice, Gráinne acts and advises in international and European human rights law and in international criminal law. She lectures in International Human Rights Law at the London School of Economics and is also a Fellow in the Centre for Human Rights at the LSE. She sits on the Executive Committee of the Bar Human Rights Committee, the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales.

Prior to joining the Bar, Gráinne worked in the European Commission, the International Criminal Court and the House of Lords.

Gráinne was admitted to both the Bar of Ireland and the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2013.

She is able to accept instructions from members of the public on a direct access basis.

Gráinne is a public law specialist. She acts on behalf of individuals, charities and other organisations in public law claims in a range of contexts including immigration, detention, trafficking, community care, children’s rights and criminal justice cases. She acts at all levels and frequently deals with urgent cases raising complex human rights issues. Grainne’s clients are often children or vulnerable adults; including those with additional health or education needs or those subject to immigration control.

The breadth of Gráinne’s public law practices means she is frequently instructed to advise on cross-over cases involving a number of areas of law.

In the last year, Grainne has acted in a leading case on retrospective delegation for children in need; detention policy for victims of torture and in a challenge to the publication of an NHS Investigatory report.

Reported cases include:

Grainne acts in a range of immigration judicial reviews including in detention, nationality, third country and age assessment cases.
Her tribunal work includes asylum, human rights, deportation, detention, family reunion and entry clearance cases.
Grainne has particular expertise in cases concerning children and advises on the overlap between family law and immigration law, in particular inter-country adoptions and unaccompanied asylum seeking children cases.

Grainne is regularly instructed to represent trafficking victims in a broad range of public law and human rights cases including in asylum and judicial review claims.

Grainne’s detention experience includes test case litigation in relation to the operation and practice of the Detained Asylum Casework system.

Grainne is currently acting on behalf of a 6 year old deaf boy resisting removal under Dublin III Regulations.

Reported cases include:

Hossain and others v SSHD [2016] EWHC 1331 (Admin) – Test case (with four representative claimants) on the lawfulness of the “Detained Asylum Casework” system; granted declaration that SSHD failed to have regard to equality duties in considering asylum claims in detention.
Ayinde and Thinjom (Carers – Reg.15A – Zambrano) [2015] UKUT 560 (IAC) – test case concerning the rights of Zambrano carers to a derivative residence card under Regulation 15A (4A) of the EEA Regulations 2006.

Community Care

Gráinne represents claimants in public law challenges relating to community care assessments, child in need assessments, the provision of services and support and the on-going duties owed to care leavers. She is in particular instructed in urgent cases under s. 17 and 20 Children Act 1989, including in cases involving inter-authority disputes. She has expertise in cross-over immigration and community care cases and regularly represents victims of trafficking, unaccompanied and age disputed migrant children- including in age assessment challenges and trials.

Reported cases include:

Court of Protection

Gráinne  also acts and advises in the Court of Protction. She regularly represents family members, local authorities and the Official Solicitor in fact-finding and best interests hearings. Grainne’s expertise in the Family Division mean mean she is frequently instructed in cases with a family dimension, including in forced marriage and consent to medical treatment cases.

Reported cases include:

  • Re EQ [2016] EWHC 3418 (Fam) – Urgent consent to medical treatment case under the inherent jurisdiction of the Family Division of the High Court; concerning a baby diagnosed with bilateral congenital cataracts shortly after birth and whether it was in her best interests to be operated on under general anaesthetic to treat the condition.
  • North Somerset Council v LW [2014] EWHC 1670 (Fam) – Court of Protection proceedings concerning whether or not a local authority were permitted not to disclose to a mother who lacked capacity the care plan for her unborn child, namely removal at birth; capacity to consent to a caesarean section; see coverage in Family Law Week

Gráinne is instructed in a broad range of education cases including schools, higher education and regulatory cases. She has a particular expertise in the disability discrimination aspects of these claims.

Grainne acts for parents in complex special educational needs appeals and also represents parents, schools and local authorities in exclusion and admission cases.

Gráinne also represents students and institutions in further and higher education matters including in internal disciplinary and complaint hearings, fitness-to-practise matters and in respect of appeals to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (“OIA”).

Gráinne is instructed in a wide range of employment cases and in particular in multiple discrimination claims. She has expertise in particular in sex and disability discrimination claims, whether in the  field  of  employment, education or goods and services.

Gráinne also represents clients before the full range of professional and regulatory bodies and in particular deals with fitness to practice hearings before the Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Medical Council and the Health Professions Council. She frequently advises professionals facing baring by the Disclosure and Barring Service including the Adult and/or Children’s Barred List.

Gráinne is a Guest Lecturer on the LLM in Employment Law at the London School of Economics.

Key cases include:

Gráinne acts in international family law cases including abduction, international adoption and relocation cases. She has experience in domestic violence, FGM and forced marriage cases.

She is frequently instructed, along with Dr. Kathryn Cronin, and in her own right as an expert in family law cases with an international or immigration dimension.

Gráinne is also instructed as expert and advocate in cases involving issues of Irish law and in cases involving discrete human rights points.

Reported cases include:

  • Re AO (Care Proceedings) [2016] EWFC 36 – High Court case on when and whether a woman’s decision to give her child up for adoption is likely to meet the threshold criteria for a care order pursuant to s. 31 Children Act 1989 – see coverage in the Guardian and Family Law Week
  • Re JL and AO (Babies Relinquished for Adoption) [2016] EWHC 440 (Fam) – Guidance on consensual adoptions and parents from abroad; see coverage in Family Law Week
  • M v Somerset County Council [2014] EWCA Civ 942; see coverage in Family Law Week 


Gráinne undertakes advisory work, litigation, teaching and training in international and European human rights law and in international criminal law.

She acts on behalf of individuals, organisations and charities.

She has most recently been instructed by Reprieve to advise on the case of Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen detained in Egypt for over two years who faces a mass trial alongside 493 other Defendants.

Gráinne has advised on/drafted a range of international interventions before the UN, regional human rights systems and the International Criminal Court.

She is frequently instructed to conduct trial observations, training and fact-finding missions on behalf of both the Bar Human Rights Committee(BHRC), of which she is on the Executive Committee and the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBA HRI). She has been appointed as a trial observer in cases in Egypt, Turkey and Malaysia.In 2016, she conducted a fact-finding mission to Calais  in relation to police violence in the camps. She has previously been part of a delegation to Nigeria where she delivered training on behalf of UNICEF to the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission on children’s rights and international law.

In 2013, Gráinne was awarded a Pegasus scholarship to complete a fellowship at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York where she worked on national security, international human rights and Guantanamo Bay cases.

Gráinne is on the Panel of Assistants to Counsel at the International Criminal Court and has been appointed as an expert to the Panel of the Legal Expertise Access Platform (LEAP).


Grainne lectures in International Human Rights Law and Discrimination Law to LLM students in the London School of Economics where she is an active member of the Law Department. She is also a Lecturer and Fellow at LSE’s Centre for Human Rights.

Gráinne teaches advocacy and refugee law on the BPTC at BPP Law School  and is accredited to provide advocacy training by the Advocacy Training Council.

Grainne is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Before coming to the Bar, Gráinne worked in the Department of Justice (Fundamental Rights and Citizenship) of the European Commission in Brussels and in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Gráinne has previously worked with Prayas Institute of Juvenile Justice in Delhi on issues of child trafficking and labour, in the US House of Congress in Washington DC and as a legislative assistant (criminal and prison law) in the House of Lords. In 2007 and 2009, Grainne was appointed as a research assistant at the LSE where she worked on two editions of the seminal textbook “Sealy and Worthington: Cases and Materials in Company Law” (2007 and 2009) OUP.



  • ”Interim Trial Observations Report: Hearing of ‘Taraf’ Journalists”, Bar Human Rights Committee Report, October 2016, available here;
  • “Camps at Calais and Grand Synthe (France): Policing and Access to Justice”, Fact-Finding Report on behalf of the Bar Human Rights Committee,  1 August 2016 (with Stephen Cragg QC), available here;
  • “British plans to repeal Human Rights Act misguided and unnecessary”, Irish Times, 10 November 2015, available here;
  • Judicial Review of Criminal Proceedings, Hart, Contributing author (2014);
  • “The Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Dublin Convention: An Analysis of S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department (C-411/10) European Public Law 18 (4) – Nov 2012
  • “Indeterminate sentences for public protection: James, Wells and Lee v UK” and “Permission to work: Asylum Seekers and Article 8 ECHR” Human Rights in Ireland (Guest Contributor)
  • “Statutory Rules, Common Law Rules and Public Policy in the Global Financial Crisis” Penn State International Law Review, [2011] 29 3 613 (with Professor Sara Worthington)
  • “Prosecutorial compassion” Criminal Law & Justice Vol. 175 No. 12, 2011 (with Abigail Bright)


  • Pegasus Scholarship, Middle Temple, 2013
  • Middle Temple Queen Mother BVC Scholarship, 2009-2010
  • Middle Temple Certificate of Honour, 2010
  • LSE 11KBW Award for Human Rights Law, 2007;
  • Exhibitioner, Trinity College Dublin.