Joanna Dodson QC 1945-2020

In: Article Published: Monday 24 August 2020


It is with great sadness that we announce the death on 23rd August 2020 of Joanna Dodson QC who succumbed after a long illness.

Joanna was widely known as a top family silk whose distinguished practice spans over 40 years.

Joanna formed part of the pioneering ‘alternative’ chambers of Tony Gifford QC, established in the early 80’s in Wellington Street, the first chambers in London to be set up outside of the Inns of Court, and well-known for its campaigning work in fighting to attain justice for those considered to be oppressed and disadvantaged in society.

From there, Joanna joined the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, chambers with a similar philosophy, which is where she took silk.  She then became the head of chambers at 14 Gray’s Inn Square, and from there joined Renaissance Chambers, whose family team subsequently joined 33 Bedford Row.  By then, sadly Joanna was unwell and increasingly unable to accept instructions.

Joanna had been instructed in a number of mile-stone cases, for example ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Office[2011] UKSC 4, which decision has revolutionised immigration law and practice.

Joanna will always be remembered by her clients, those juniors whom she led and those who instructed her for her calm and steely demeanour and apparent inability to become remotely ‘ruffled’.

In addition to her high-flying practice at the bar, Joanna was instructed to appear in several high profile inquiries, most notably those regarding Victoria Climbie, Jasmine Beckford and Kimberley Carlisle.

She also chaired a number of reviews of deaths of young men in police custody.

On a personal level, Joanna was a kind, compassionate and altruistic human being who was extremely popular amongst her friends and colleagues, and who always went above and beyond what most mortals could manage in fighting for her clients (who always came first and to whose causes she devoted her entire professional life).

Joanna was a very glamorous and charismatic woman and will be remembered by colleagues for coming into chambers in her characteristic long fur coat!

She carried on with her work even as her illness took hold, until she was simply unable to continue.

She will be greatly missed.