Jonathan Kirk KC is currently ranked as the star individual silk for Consumer Law and Finance.
His practice can be divided into three main areas: Consumer Law, Consumer Finance and Food Law.
“A formidable adversary who knows the business inside out.” Chambers and Partners, 2020 (Star Individual Silk)
“An outstanding advocate who can distil the most complex of cases to something so straightforward.” Legal 500, 2022 (Tier 1 KC)
For several years Jonathan has been ranked as the star individual silk for consumer law by Chambers & Partners and a Band 1 KC by the Legal 500.
He has been the principal author and editor of the Pink Book on consumer law (Consumer and Trading Standards: Law and Practice published by Lexis Nexis) for each of the 11 editions since it was first published in 2001.
Jonathan has been instructed to defend businesses in virtually all of the CMA’s sectoral investigations into consumer law infringements: including supermarket pricing, online retail, package holidays, furniture, carpet pricing, airline refunds, ground rents, anti-virus subscriptions, ticket reselling, dating websites and covid cancellation.
He recently represented British Airways in their successful defence to the CMA investigation in relation to Covid refunds, and is currently instructed in the sectoral investigations into supermarkets, online website architecture and greenwashing.
In the Supreme Court he represented the successful parking company in Beavis v ParkingEye, which now sets out the correct approach to the assessment of unfair terms in consumer contracts and the general application of the civil penalties doctrine.
Jonathan has also acted as an expert witness on consumer law in overseas courts. He was instructed by Apple as its expert witness on UK consumer law in the US courts for its defence of a global class action concerning the performance of older iPhone models.
For over 25 years he has advised and acted in some of most important trading standards litigation. In particular, he has defended numerous companies against allegations of mis-selling and misleading pricing, including the Tesco strawberries litigation. He was the legal adviser and draftsman for the current CTSI Pricing Practices Guide.
In 2023 he represented the successful appellants in the landmark R (City of York) v AUH litigation before the Court of Appeal concerning the territorial jurisdiction of a local authority. He also represented the traders in R v X Limited the first appellate consideration of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
Jonathan was previously an editor of Miller: Product Liability and Safety Encyclopaedia and has been involved in many of the most serious product safety cases including dangerous appliances (Whirlpool), cars (Vauxhall), personal protective equipment, electrical imports, toys, clothing and baby and childcare products. He advises the Office of Product Safety and Standards on national product safety issues.
Jonathan is also familiar with money laundering and confiscation, on which he co-authored the textbook: The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002: A Practitioner’s Guide, published by Jordan.
“He is a real heavyweight. His strategy is phenomenal – he could pick a path through a minefield”. Legal 500 (Band 1 Leading Silk)
“Jonathan Kirk KC Regularly defends high-profile corporations against claims of mis-selling and is an expert at advising companies nationwide on their regulatory and enforcement concerns.” Chambers and Partners (Star Individual Silk)
Jonathan is the co-author of the legal textbook Mis-selling Financial Services (Kirk, Samuels & Finch now in its 2nd Edition) published by Edward Elgar and one of the two general editors of Kirk & Kingham, The Encyclopaedia of Financial Services, published by Thomson Reuters.
In 2022 he was nominated as Silk of the Year for Consumer Finance and Group Litigation at the Legal 500 Bar Awards. His new textbook on Consumer Group Litigation will be published by Edward Elgar in 2023.
He represented the successful appellant in CFL Finance Ltd v Bass, Gertner & Others in the Court of Appeal’s decision on the definition of credit under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and its application to settlement agreements.
In 2023 he represented both timeshare providers in the High Court test case for the Financial Ombudsman’s consideration of mis-selling allegations relating to timeshare lending, unfair relationships and collective investment schemes, Regina (Shawbrook Bank) & R (Clydesdale Financial Services t/a Barclays Partner Finance) v Financial Ombudsman Service.
He also acted for Berkley Burke in the long-running financial services litigation concerning the non-advised transfer of pension funds. He acted for the company in both the judicial review proceedings brought against the Financial Ombudsman Service and in defence of the related group litigation on collective investment schemes.
He has advised lenders in relation to a wide variety of other group litigation claims, including diesel emissions and business lease cars. He currently defends lenders in the mis-selling litigation over solar panels, motor finance (hidden commission), PPI and timeshare.
Jonathan is also instructed by various Government departments to advise on national consumer finance issues.
“His knowledge is second to none. A first-class operator and a pleasure to work with.” Legal 500, 2023 (Band 1 Leading Silk)
“A formidable adversary who knows the business inside out.” “He’s brilliant and a force to be reckoned with.” Chambers and Partners (Star Individual Silk)
A significant part of Jonathan’s practice involves food and feed law and he is rated by Chambers & Partners in relation to life sciences.
He has appeared in the High Court, Divisional Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court on food law issues. In the Supreme Court he represented the successful appellant in Torfaen CBC v Douglas Willis Limited in relation to the labelling of meat products.
Over the years he has advised and represented most UK supermarkets on food and pricing issues. He represented Tesco in the Divisional Court on minimum durability labelling under the EU Food Information Regulation, Regina (Tesco Stores Limited) v Birmingham City Council & Another.
In 2023 he was involved in High Court litigation concerning the safety and Food Standards Agency regulation of raw pet foods, Happy Hounds Wales Limited v Neath Port Talbot CBC.
Jonathan represented the UK’s CBD industry in submissions before the European Commission on the application of novel food laws to ingested CBD products. He has advised numerous food businesses on novel foods and been involved in several applications for judicial review of the Food Standards Agency concerning its handling of CBD regulation.
Jonathan advises National Trading Standards, the Bar Council, the Law Society and various Government departments on consumer law issues.
He has been an Inns of Court advocacy tutor for nearly twenty years and in 2017 was made an honorary member of the CTSI for services to consumer law and trading standards.
As a junior barrister he defended a Rwandan Government Minister accused of genocide, United Nations v Justin Mugenzi, at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania.