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John Bates

Call: 1973

"He is highly knowledgeable and provides prompt and clear advice." "John is sound on strategy."

Chambers & Partners 2021

"You can be assured that he will respond very quickly and is flexible, approachable and very pragmatic."

The Legal 500 2021


John mainly practices in environmental law, being one of the first members of the Bar to specialise in the area. He has written extensively on this broad and specialist subject. His first book was UK Marine Environmental Law which was followed by UK Waste Law and the loose-leaf work Water and Drainage Law which he has now been updating for 30 years. He is also co-author of Liability for Environmental Harm (along with former members of Old Square Chambers, Charles Pugh and William Birtles).

John compiled the Fact Sheets on Environmental Access to Justice Rules in the EU Member States for the European e-Justice Portal.

John is experienced in civil litigation in the Technology and Construction Court as well as more generally. He also does judicial review; most recently concerning the Drinking Water Inspectorate, a claim that settled.

John advises on Town and Country Planning matters and is a member of the Planning and Environment Bar Association and he was Chairman of the UK Environmental Law Association 1991-3.

Professional Recommendations


“He is highly knowledgeable and provides prompt and clear advice.” “John is sound on strategy.”

Chambers & Partners 2021

“You can be assured that he will respond very quickly and is flexible, approachable and very pragmatic.”

The Legal 2021

“He cuts through to the root of the problem and is a very straightforward and matter-of-fact barrister.”

Chambers & Partners 2020

“A specialist in water and drainage cases, including issues of flooding, fishing and conservation.”

The Legal 500 2020

“What he doesn’t know about environmental group action and nuisance isn’t worth knowing. He has good attention to detail and great experience in group litigation.”

Chambers & Partners 2018

“An expert on everything aqueous: from drainage to sewage to fishing rights.”

The Legal 500 2018

John Bates has “a fantastic command of domestic environmental law,” and maintains a particularly good track record in matters concerning water law, waste management, air contamination and pollution issues. His recent work has included acting in Dobson v. Thames Water, a group litigation concerning 1,000 plus residents who have brought an odour nuisance claim against Thames Water in connection with a sewage treatment works.

Chambers & Partners 2012

John Bates is “very thorough and unrivalled in his attention to detail”, according to one client. He has an impressive grasp of water law, air contamination issues, waste management and pollution. Recent work highlights include his representation of more than 1,000 residents in London claiming for odour and mosquito nuisance from a sewage treatment works.

Chambers & Partners 2010

John Bates is deemed “highly learned” in the water law field, and clients especially value his in-depth written opinions. He recently acted for the Mayor of London over a waste management strategy challenge. A “well-rounded barrister”, his areas of expertise also extend to contaminated land, nature conservation issues and nuisance claims.

Chambers & Partners 2009

John Bates is “first choice” for complex water law issues, where he is considered “a true expert in his field”.

The Legal 500 2012

Old Square Chambers houses leading junior John Bates, who provides “advice that is practical and of the highest quality”.

The Legal 500 2009



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Graham Smith (Deputy Senior Clerk)

07795 023 532