Phil’s career in the law very much did not start with his call to the Bar in 2014.
Prior to joining us here at Nine, Phil had spent more than a decade as a specialist defence solicitor and higher court advocate in one of Manchester’s leading criminal law firms. His hard-earned experience as a defence lawyer spans the whole range of crime, from the custody office to the Court of Appeal and back again.
His rapid rise through the solicitor’s profession did not go unnoticed. Early in his career, the head of the University of Cardiff Law School wrote a letter describing him as “one of the most talented young solicitors we have ever had.”
After a decade spent perfecting the understanding, application and touch of a senior solicitor, Phil was invited to cross the professional divide and join the criminal team at 9SJS. The years that followed have allowed him to add the authority, dedication and expertise demanded of the Bar.
These days, Phil works both sides of the criminal court room with equal assuredness. He has grown from the diligent junior to the determined, meticulous and able leader.
He is perhaps best known as a prosecutor of serious and organised crime, having particular expertise in prosecuting offences of homicide and serious violence, firearms offending, armed robbery and high-level drug trafficking. Since 2020, he has become a specialist in the prosecution of EncroChat cases. Phil is regularly instructed by the CPS complex casework unit at all stages of their work, from initial investigative advice to multi-handed trial prosecution and appellate hearings. He has gathered experience of complex disclosure work, PII and intelligence handling at the most advanced and intricate levels. He is also a category 4 CPS panel advocate.
Phil remains a proud and determined defence lawyer, and is much sought-after to represent those charged with the most serious offences before the Crown Courts. He has represented defendants charged with offences including murder and attempted murder, serious sexual offences, robberies, firearms offences, drugs conspiracies, fatal traffic offences and many others.
But it is acting in defence of those in public positions – notably police officers, prison staff and care workers – where Phil has built a particular reputation. When the criminal court proceedings have finished, where necessary, Phil will continue to defend his clients’ interests through misconduct hearings before their professional regulators.
His comprehensive experience of the criminal justice system was recognised by the Bench, as well as the Bar. Since 2017, Phil has been sitting as a District Judge in the Magistrates’ Courts, and in 2019 he was appointed as a Recorder of the Crown Court. He also sits in the Family jurisdiction.
Away from the law, Phil spends his time riding motorbikes, travelling home and away to watch Bolton Wanderers and coaching and refereeing youth football. He is the chairman of an FA charter standard club with over 600 registered players, and has even been known to try to play the beautiful game himself. He also squeezes in the odd moment to see his own family!
Phil hails from a comprehensive school background and has a keen interest in social mobility in the legal profession. He speaks widely to schools and careers organisations, and has a particular focus on encouraging talented people with similar backgrounds to consider whether their futures might lie in the law. He maintains – and preaches - the occasionally unfashionable view that life at the Bar remains the best job in the world!
Recorder (Crime and Family) - 2019
Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) – 2017
Criminal Bar Assocation
University of Leicester (LL.B Hons)
Phil Barnes is a practising barrister, regulated by the Bar Standards Board. Details of information held by the BSB about Phil can be found here.
Phil’s clerks will provide no obligation quotations for all legal services that he offers. Phil accepts instructions on legal aid rates where those are available, details of which can be found here. For other work, Phil usually charges a brief fee plus refresher fees for court hearings, with advisory, conference and other preparation work charged at an hourly rate. Phil aims to return paperwork within 10 working days, however his professional commitments, complexity and volume of documentation can affect these approximate timescales.
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