Christopher Quinlan

Thorough and analytical. Christopher has a forensic approach and leaves no stone unturned.

Legal 500 2023

Christopher Quinlan KC

  • Called in 1992
  • Silk in 2011

Regulatory & Disciplinary

Christopher appears before and is a highly experienced chairman of numerous sport disciplinary bodies and panels. He has led a number of substantial reviews including the ‘Quinlan Review’ which restructured the British Horseracing Authority’s disciplinary procedure.

He is the independent Chair of World Rugby’s Judicial Panel and also the Independent Chair of The Football Association’s Judicial Panel. In November 2020 he was appointed to lead British Gymnastics Independent Complaints Process to handle individual complaints made to British Gymnastics and to the British Athletics Commission. He will oversee the whole process. This follows publication in July 2020 of his safeguarding Review for UK Athletics and in January 2019 of his Safeguarding Review for the Lawn Tennis Association.

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Notable Cases

R v AA (Bristol CC)
Christopher prosecuted grime artist known as Solo45, (part of the Boy Better Known collective) who was convicted of imprisoning, raping and sexually assaulting four women over a period of two years.

R v IP, EA & JC (Bristol CC)
Christopher prosecuted defendants who murdered a man in the nightclub a targeted revenge attack which had its origins in a gang feud.

R v SB & Or (Cardff CC)
Christopher represented one of two bothers, alleged to have murdered another in a drug feud.

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R v JV & EA (Cardiff CC)
Christopher 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.

R v NT (Truro CC)
Christopher represented an engineer charged with gross negligence manslaughter who was alleged to have designed and supervised the building of a barn extension which he knew to be lethally dangerous.

R v LP & MH (Merthyr Tydfil, CC)
Christopher prosecuted a mother and son who murdered their husband/step-father.

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If you would like to instruct Christopher Quinlan KC or would like help or advice in doing so, please call and talk to our excellent clerking team, led by Chief Executive/Director of Clerking, Paul Cray. Our phone number is +44 (0)20 7583 9241. Alternatively, please email us at

For more information about our clerking team, please click here for the clerks page.

Appointments & Memberships

Recorder of the Crown Court (2009)

Bencher, Inner Temple

Judicial Panel Chairman, World Rugby (2017 to date)

Judicial Panel Chairman, Football Association (2019)

International Association of Athletics Federation, Disciplinary Tribunal member

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



British Association for Sport and Law

Bristol Medico-Legal Society

Criminal Bar Association

Western Circuit

Wales & Chester Circuit


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.”

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.”



LEGAL 500 2023

Sport: ‘A vastly knowledgeable and sagacious silk. His combination of razor-sharp wit and Judicial Panel Chair sports experience is unmatched.’

Crime: ‘Christopher is thorough and analytical, and a great communicator with lawyers and lay clients. He has a forensic approach and leaves no stone unturned.’


Crime: Band 1

Sport: “He is particularly outstanding dealing with sport disciplinary hearings.”

LEGAL 500 2022

Crime (General and Fraud): Ranked: Tier 1

Sport: Leading Silk: Tier 1

“As Chair of World Rugby’s Judicial Panel, he has an excellent feel for how a sports panel operates and as an experienced criminal QC, is first-rate at dealing with evidence and cross-examination. I was particularly impressed with his handling of and interaction with clients.”


Crime: 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: A robust and fierce barrister.”

He is very determined, extremely thorough and very authoritative.”

“He’s punchy and combative in his style, but is also a very careful and thorough practitioner.”

Recent work: Prosecuted a grime artist known as Solo45 who was alleged to have imprisoned, raped and sexually assaulted four separate women over a period of two years.

Sport: 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 chair. He has been particularly active in cases concerning rugby and horse racing, and his recent work has concerned safeguarding in sport, among other issues.

Strengths: “He is excellent for disciplinary matters and has a great insight into criminal issues.” “A very smart guy, very sound and sensible.”

Recent work: Presided over the Disputes Committee which heard and resolved the dispute involving Scotland Rugby’s threat to bring legal proceedings against World Rugby if its final pool stage match against Japan was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.


Sport: “An absolutely outstanding advocate. His many years of criminal advocacy in the Crown Court have given him skills which are perfect for appearing in disciplinary, safeguarding and doping cases.”

Crime: An interviewee highlights his “dedication to detail and level of perseverance.”


Sport: “He is extraordinarily thorough, extraordinarily hard-working and his understanding of the issues is without parallel.”

Crime: “A powerhouse advocate who has incredible attention to detail.”

LEGAL 500 2019

Regulatory, Health & Safety and Licensing: “He has a stellar sports regulatory practice.”

Crime: “A first-class silk.”


Sport: “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.”

Crime: “He is careful, forthright and brilliant in court” and “He is very careful in his preparation and precise in his questioning.


Sport: Leading Silk, Band 1 – “He’s very well organised and has a fantastic work ethic.”

Crime: 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 new-born baby. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to probation.

LEGAL 500 2017

Construction, Planning & Environment: “He has expertise in environmental matters.”

Crime: “A top-class performer.”


Sport: Leading Silk – Band 1; “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.

Crime: Leading Silk – “He is extremely charming, incredibly persuasive and immaculately prepared.”

Directory Quotes

Highly regarded for its longstanding expertise in handling a range of sports law matters on the Western circuit.

‘He is a vastly experienced criminal advocate who is also outstanding at representing clients at sports disciplinary tribunals. His considerable experience as a tribunal chair and part-time judge have given him a very sharp instinct into how to best advise a client facing disciplinary issues.’ Legal 500 – Leading Silk, Tier 1 – Sport

Christopher leaves no stone unturned in his preparation and presentation of cases. He thinks through every point and this enables him to present in a sensible and highly cogent manner. His legal submissions on paper and in court are second-to-none. His attention to detail is astonishing.’ Legal 500 – Leading Silk, Tier 1 – Crime

Christopher Quinlan KC,  stands out as ‘one of the leading sports barristers in the UK‘.

Christopher is thorough and analytical, and a great communicator with lawyers and lay clients. He has a forensic approach and leaves no stone unturned.’ Legal 500 – Leading Silk, Tier 1 – Crime

A vastly knowledgeable and sagacious silk. His combination of razor-sharp wit and Judicial Panel Chair sports experience is unmatched.’ Legal 500 – Leading Silk, Tier 1 – Sport

“Highly recommended for his infectious enthusiasm, availability and ability to provide outstanding advice.”
Chambers & Partners


Sport: Law & Practice – Bloomsbury, March 2021

  • Christopher Quinlan KC co-authored the chapter: Disciplinary & other Internal Proceedings