Christopher Quinlan QC

Year of call: 1992 | Silk: 2011

"A powerhouse advocate who has incredible attention to detail."
Chambers UK 2019

Christopher Christopher QC

Christopher, Head of the Guildhall Crime Team,  is a criminal, sports and regulatory law silk. He is an accomplished trial advocate and Crown Court Recorder.

Christopher is highly experienced chairman of numerous sport disciplinary bodies and member of disciplinary panels. Author of the 'Quinlan Review', Chairman of World Rugby's Judicial Panel, he is now firmly established as a leading member of the Sports Law bar.


Christopher is an experienced criminal silk. He is a very experienced trial advocate, prosecuting and defending cases of the utmost gravity, including homicide and serious sexual allegations. Together with ongoing homicide practise, recent example of his cases include:

  • Prosecuted a homicide case in which the defendants were, uncommonly, charged separately, one with murder and the other manslaughter in respect of the same victim. The defendants attacked a young soldier in Brecon. One was a highly rated amateur boxer.
  • Prosecuted three defendants, a mother, her son and his girlfriend. The first two were charged with the murder of her husband and his step-father. They beat him to death in the matrimonial home after a bout of drinking. Thereafter, with the third defendant they lied about what happened. Out of those lying accounts to police, all three were charged with perverting the course of justice.
  • Prosecuted to conviction the first slavery and servitude case brought in England and Wales. All five defendant were convicted after a three-month trial. Very substantial confiscation orders we made in consequence.
  • Represented defendant charged (with his brother) with murder. They were alleged to have executed a man to whom one owed money arising out class A drug dealing. The defendants were alleged to have travelled together to that spot and then one shot him twice with a sawn-off shotgun. He died 2 months later but after being interviewed by the police.
  • Instructed to represent defendant charged with the murder of her new born infant. It was the alleged that she killed her baby immediately following her birth by suffocating her with tissue paper, pushed down her throat. She denied knowledge of her pregnancy and said the baby was still born. Case involved (the very rare) alternative of infanticide as well as manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. She was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to probation.
  • Instructed to represent defendant charged with gross negligence manslaughter. He was an engineer alleged to have designed and supervised the building of a barn extension which he knew to be lethally dangerous. Two other defendants charged with health and safety offences. Deceased was electrocuted when his ladder touched an overhead power cable. Case involved esoteric and complicated electricity and other health and safety regulations.
  • Represented an internationally renowned artist charged with historic sexual allegations as part of the 'Operation Yewtree' investigation.

Sports Law

'The Quinlan Review' was published in September 2016 Christopher was appointed to lead a review of the structure, composition and operation of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Disciplinary Panel, Appeal Board and Licensing Committee following the Jim Best case. The resulting Quinlan Review made far-reaching recommendations in order to bring the process in line with current best practice. The Review received universal support in the industry. The BHA accepted all 24 recommendations. Click here to read the review in full.

In November 2016 Christopher was appointed World Rugby's Judicial Panel Chairman ('JPC'), after a worldwide selection process. It is the most senior judicial role within the sport. He is responsible, inter alia, for the worldwide appointment and management of World Rugby's Judicial Committees and Judicial Officers, including Rugby World Cup, for which he has served as judicial officer at the last three tournaments. He will be primarily responsible for safeguarding the reputation of World Rugby through clear, consistent and fair decision making by disciplinary, appeal and other judicial panels which can demonstrate the independence of World Rugby.

Christopher continues  to advises, appear before, and chair disciplinary tribunals covering such areas as on-field foul play, off-field misconduct, anti-doping, safeguarding and selection appeals. He is instructed to do so in a wide variety of sports, including football, athletics, sailing, swimming, rugby union, rugby league, horseracing and equestrian, motorsport, lawn tennis, boxing and golf.

Christopher is a leading Anti-Doping lawyer. In 2008 Christopher was appointed as one of nine Legal members of the then newly formed NADP. He was re-appointed to that position in 2011 and 2015. He is also a member of World Rugby's Anti-Doping Advisory Committee.

Christopher frequently speaks at disciplinary, anti-doping and sports law conferences. In Singapore and London he recently led World Rugby's training of former international rugby players, coaches and referees who will sit as members of World Rugby's Disciplinary Committees, World Rugby TV ran a report on the Singapore training featuring Christopher, to view click here.


Christopher has developed his regulatory junior practice in silk, with an expertise in Environmental Law. He has prosecuted several high-profile cases for Natural Resources Wales (and its predecessor Environment Agency Wales). Those complex cases concerned the illegal depositing of millions of pounds of waste within and without the UK.


Quinlan Review

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said, "The changes we're making mean that everyone connected with our sport will be able to have the utmost confidence in the impartiality and fairness of the BHA's disciplinary panels. As well as providing his own expert, independent view, Christopher Quinlan's report has given us the opportunity to address the concerns of our sport's participants and stakeholders and to improve their confidence in what we do and how we do it."

Welcoming the changes, Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: "We would like to thank Christopher Quinlan for producing such a detailed and thorough report…We therefore very much welcome the recommendations contained within it, designed as they are to address those and other concerns."

Judicial Panel Chairman, World Rugby

In welcoming his appointment World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said:

"Christopher is greatly respected within the rugby and sports environments and brings to the position a great wealth of relevant experience at the highest level. These qualities, combined with his extensive rugby knowledge and empathy for the on-field environment, mean that Christopher is perfectly skilled to drive even greater consistency and rugby playing empathy within our disciplinary processes.”




Leading Silk

Noted for his ability to handle criminal matters of the utmost seriousness, including the defence of some particularly challenging cases of murder, manslaughter and sexual violence. He receives plaudits for both his prosecution and defence work.

Strengths: "He is careful, forthright and brilliant in court." "He is very careful in his preparation and precise in his questioning."

Recent work: Instructed to prosecute a vulnerable defendant charged with the murder of a man with whom she had experienced a long and abusive relationship.


Leading Silk - Band 1

Leading criminal silk with a wide-ranging sports practice who has recognised expertise in anti-doping matters. He is frequently called upon to sit as a tribunal chairman. He has been particularly active in cases concerning rugby and horse racing.

Strengths: "He is very astute with an extremely good knowledge of the law as it applies to sport, and he's not afraid to make difficult decisions."

Recent work: Appointed to lead a review of the composition and operation of the British Horseracing Authority Disciplinary Panel, Appeal Board and Licensing Committee.

LEGAL 500 2017

Construction, Planning & Environment

Leading silks

'He has expertise in environmental matters.'


Leading silks

'A top-class performer.'



Leading Silk

Noted for his ability to handle criminal matters of the utmost seriousness, including the defence of some particularly challenging cases of murder, manslaughter and sexual violence.

Recent work: Represented an individual charged with the murder of her newborn baby. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to probation.


Leading Silk - Band 1

Leading criminal silk with a wide-ranging sports practice who has recognised expertise in anti-doping matters. He is frequently called upon to sit as a tribunal chairman.

Strengths: "He's very well organised and has a fantastic work ethic."

Recent work: Appointed as Judical Officer for the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final, and also advised on other matters through the tournament.

LEGAL 500 2016

Construction, Planning & Environment

Leading silks

'Recommended for enviromental cases.'


Leading silks

'Deals with the most serious murders, sexual abuse cases and frauds.'



Leading Silk - Band 2

A strong presence on the Western Circuit who is widely praised for his caseload and his advocacy skills. He defends and prosecutes cases concerning serious sexual offences and manslaughter.

Strengths: "He is extremely charming, incredibly persusaive and immaculately prepared."

Recent work: Acted in R v Elliot Bodenham, a case concerning charges of sexual offences committed against a number of young girls.


Leadling Silk - Band 1

Recommended for his wide ranging expertise on doping, disciplinary and regulatory work in football, rugby and sailing.

Strengths: "He is a formidable advocate who leaves no stone unturned in any case he deals with."

Recent work: Instructed by the International Sailing Federation to advise on its response to the appeal by professional sailor Dirk de Ridder.

LEGAL 500 2015

Construction, Planning & Environment

Leading silks

‘An unstoppable presence in court.’

Christopher Quinlan QC recently prosecuted a company and a director for illegally exporting controlled waste from South Wales to Holland and Indonesia.


Leading silks

‘Meticulous in his preparation and good with clients in the most serious of cases’



Leading Silk - Band 2

A veteran trial advocate who prosecutes and defends in complex criminal cases. His caseload includes high-profile homicides and serious sexual offences.

Expertise: "He is an exceptionally hard-working silk."

Recent work: Instructed in the murder cases of R v Stephens & Vince, R v Cox and R v Boult, as well as the slavery trial of R v Connors.


Leading Silk - Band 1

Handles a number of sporting disciplinary matters concerning anti-doping misconduct cases. He is retained as an arbitrator on a number of sporting panels across various sports, including football and rugby.

Recent work: Has chaired disciplinary proceedings for the ERC and RFU.

LEGAL 500 2014

Construction, Planning & Environment

‘He has expertise in environmental law and handles a significant amount of prosecution work’

Christopher Quinlan QC recently defended artist Graham Ovenden in a case involving alleged historic sexual offences.


Leading silks ‘An experienced trial advocate who specialises in serious crimes, many of which are high profile’



Is highly recommended for his infectious enthusiasm, availability an ability to provide outstanding advice.

Expertise: "The time that he gave to the case was impressive and he was immediately able to highlight the relevant legal issues that we needed to concentrate upon. I have dealt with a number of serious cases over the years but have never found Queen's Counsel to be more approachable and readily on hand to give advice to both myself and to the client."

Recent work: He led for The Crown in the highly publicised Connors family case, which involved charges of holding persons in servitude and requiring them to perform compulsory labour.


Has extensive experience in sports disciplinary cases, most notably in rugby union, but also across a wide variety of sports, including football, tennis, boxing and golf. He also sits as chairman of a number of disciplinary and anti-doping panels.

LEGAL 500 2013

Christopher Quinlan QC 'will fight a client's corner'.



Christopher Quinlan QC continues to impress observers since taking silk in 2011. He acts for the prosecution and defence in serious criminal cases, including R v Pritchard, in which his work led to the successful conviction of a gang of armed robbers. He is "a powerful advocate," who is "a real presence in court."


Christopher Quinlan QC of Guildhall Chambers has been successful in translating the skills he has forged at the Criminal Bar over to the sports sector. He is "as thorough as you could wish for," yet "doesn't get lost in the detail, and keeps sight of the overall picture," say those that instruct him. A "powerful advocate, who has real presence in court," he is a "punchy" barrister with a phenomenal reputation for expertise in sports disciplinary proceedings. He has appeared in cases across a broad range of sports, including football, both codes of rugby, and equestrian sports. He was appointed as one of the International Rugby Board's judicial officers at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

LEGAL 500 2012

Christopher Quinlan QC is frequently instructed in high-profile murder cases.



Sports and criminal law barrister Christopher Quinlan QC recently gained silk and is described as "very sure footed" and a man with a "particular eye for detail."


Guildhall's sporting expert is new silk Christopher Quinlan QC. He also comes highly recommended for his expertise in rugby union, and is a judicial officer on both the International Rugby Board's and European Rugby Cup's disciplinary panels.

LEGAL 500 2011

Christopher Quinlan QC's practice comprises heavyweight criminal matters and sports disciplinary cases.



Others at the set who impress include Christopher Quinlan, who as acted as a leading junior in a number of serious matters. "In a pressing case, he is your man," declared one source.


Christopher Quinlan has developed a strong sports practice. He draws praise for his "user-friendly approach and fantastically well thought-out decisions."



Christopher Quinlan is "a very impressive advocate who is definitely going places." Sources appreciate his direct approach with clients.

LEGAL 500 2009

Christopher Quinlan is a very effective defender.



Christopher Quinlan is a "tenacious and forceful advocate whose defence case statements and legal arguments are thorough, well considered and persuasive."


For further information and enquiries please contact:

Crime: Lucy Northeast

Sport: Lucy Northeast

Regulatory & Discipline: Lucy Northeast


  • Recorder of the Crown Court
  • Bencher, Inner Temple
  • Judicial Panel Chairman, World Rugby
  • Member, World Rugby Anti-Doping Advisory Committee
  • Sport Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators
  • Legal Member, National Anti-Doping Panel
  • Legal Member, National Child Safeguarding in Sport Panel
  • Specialist Panel Member, Football Association Judicial Panel
  • Deputy Chair, Appeal Board, Table Tennis England
  • Member, IAAF Disciplinary Tribunal


  • British Association for Sport and Law
  • Bristol Medico-Legal Society
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • Western Circuit
  • Wales & Chester Circuit


  • LLB Hons