Details of practice

Richard Horwell’s practice encompasses all aspects of the criminal law in both this jurisdiction and Strasbourg with particular experience in commercial fraud, drug importations, terrorism and murder trials.  He has also appeared before tribunals including the GMC and RAC Motorsport.  His public law experience includes inquests and advising on the legality of entry and search warrants and arrest.

Before 2006 his practice was necessarily prosecution led by virtue of his appointment to Treasury Counsel in 1991.  He was appointed Senior Treasury Counsel in 1996 (an appointment considered equivalent to Silk) and was appointed First Senior Treasury Counsel in 2002, a position he held until taking Silk in 2006, during which time he was often instructed to advise on the construction of statutes, sentencing and prosecution policy; consistently instructed in the most complex and high profile cases; and often advising on and representing the Crown in matters of national security.  Since taking Silk he has successfully reversed the weight of his practice between defence and prosecution; his practice is now almost exclusively for the defence barring instructions from the Financial Services Authority.

As a Silk his practice has centred on high profile criminal trials for the defence and financial crime including pre-charge advice to companies and individuals who are the subject of investigations.  During this time he has been instructed by BCL Burton Copeland, Clifford Chance, Corker Binning, Herbert Smith, Russell Jones & Walker, Slaughter and May and Field Fisher Waterhouse amongst others.

He has particular experience and interest in appellate work.  He has been instructed in over 300 appeal cases, including Attorney General References.  He has appeared in the consolidated appeals re ‘baby shaking’ and is currently instructed on behalf of Jeremy Bamber.

Directory recommendations

‘He is one of the top QCs in general crime and has huge amounts of experience and skills which he brings to cases’.  ‘Has notable expertise in cases that straddle the divide between criminal law and human rights.’ Chambers UK 2015: Crime

‘An extremely wise and experienced advocate.’ Chambers UK 2015: Inquests

‘He has the ability to talk about something which is fairly complex in a way that everyone can understand.’ Chambers UK 2015: Financial Crime

‘Experienced in public inquests’ The Legal 500 2014: Administrative & Public & Law

‘His ability on the defence side is hard to match.’ The Legal 500 2014: Crime

‘A superb barrister.’ The Legal 500 2014: Fraud

“Extremely experienced barrister” Richard Horwell QC’s “knowledge of the law is vast, and his ability to apply it is undoubted.”  His practice covers all criminal law matters and he is a veteran of handling cases that go all the way to Strasbourg. Commercial fraud, terrorism and murder all figure prominently in his caseload, and he is noted for the strength of his appellate practice.  In the case of Overmeer he successfully defended a Brazilian national accused of the attempted murder of his girlfriend.  Chambers UK 2013:  Crime

The “excellent” Richard Horwell QC has a broad criminal practice, with a substantial fraud element to it.  Solicitors comment that “he’s so good in front of a jury because he has that gravitas that comes with years of experience.”  Recently, he dealt with a restraint order imposed on the UK assets of a Brazilian hedge fund following a Brazilian fraud investigationChambers UK 2013:  Fraud

“A significant track record in appellate cases” The Legal 500 2011 Crime

“An exceptionally talented counsel with a huge breadth of experience” The Legal 500 2011 Fraud: Criminal

“Methodical and thorough” The Legal 500 2011:  Public and Administrative Law

“Richard Horwell QC is applauded for his broad commercial fraud practice and his expertise in relation to multi-jurisdictional matters.” Chambers UK 2011: Fraud

“Richard Horwell QC has a stellar commercial fraud practice and is particularly experienced at advising on multi-jurisdictional issues” Chambers UK 2010

“The impressive Richard Horwell” is “a barrister long admired for his poise and precision” Chambers UK 2009

Education/professional qualifications

Called 1976


Bencher of Gray’s Inn
Appointed Treasury Counsel 1991
Senior Treasury Counsel 1996 – 2006
First Senior Treasury Counsel 2002 – 2006
Appointed a Recorder 2004
Queen’s Counsel 2006

Direct access

Richard Horwell QC is qualified to accept instructions direct from clients under the Bar Council’s Public Access Scheme. This means that members of the public who seek specialist advice can come direct to him. In addition, he welcomes instructions from solicitors, in-house law departments, qualified foreign lawyers, and clients licensed by the Bar Council to give instructions direct to barristers under the Bar Council’s Licensed Access Scheme.

For further information please contact our Clerks.