Laura Hoyano

Call: 2015; 1983 (Alberta) (now on retired list)

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    Great strength in depth both in relation to their expertise and breadth of experience from juniors through to their QCs.

    Legal 500, 2022
    Laura Hoyano

    Personal profile

    After many years of trial and appellate advocacy experience at the Canadian Bar (Alberta Bar 1983), with many reported judgments, Laura Hoyano developed a high-profile academic career at the University of Oxford, where she is now Emeritus Professor of Law.

    Laura has an international reputation for her research in the Crime and Civil Liberties & Human Rights aspects of child abuse and child sexual exploitation as well as Human Trafficking, abusive relationship cases and the handling of vulnerable witnesses. Since 2015 she has also practised in these fields at the English Bar.

    Laura also practises in Regulatory & Professional Disciplinary law, where vulnerable witnesses requiring special measures often appear. Due to her long experience working within the higher education sector, she brings unique knowledge and expertise to the handling of harassment and other complaints of misconduct, in student/academic relations and academic/academic relations alike. She has a particular interest in professional tribunals in the medical sector; she lectured for many years on accountability for clinical errors in medical law at the postgraduate level in Oxford.

    Her expertise in criminal and civil issues vaulting across juridical boundaries, and across practice and academic research, makes her adept in developing lateral and creative strategies for cases. Laura’s distinctive contribution to developing the law, practice and public policy on many fronts because of her dual perspectives as advocate and academic was acknowledged in a feature article in Counsel (‘Laura Hoyano: Advocating for Change’, March 2020 issue).

    Since 2012 she has written the chapter in Blackstone’s Criminal Procedure on vulnerable witnesses and defendants and special measures directions (Chapter D 14), and she is a contributor to Rook & Ward on Sexual Offences (2021) and every edition of Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings, the official guidance for the management of vulnerable witnesses. She is a frequent author and commentator for the Criminal Law Review. She has lectured on these topics over many years for the Criminal Bar Association, the Services Prosecuting Authority, Judicial Studies Board, Magistrates’ Association, Family Justice Council, Old Bailey Mess and Middle Temple, as well as internationally.

    She is famed for her flow diagrams mapping the rules of evidence for the use of practitioners, judges, and students of the law. She is frequently sought as an expert commentator by British and international media. She has carried out research commissioned by the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and the Scottish Government, as well as by foreign public inquiries into sexual offences and child abuse.

    Because of her acknowledged expertise, including representing the Criminal Bar Association on the Rape Review, Laura is frequently interviewed in the media on child abuse/RASSO issues.

    Inquests & Inquiries

    Laura has had considerable experience in public inquiries, both in England and in Canada, where she has appeared for the parties being investigated, and for those making complaints, giving her keen insight into public inquiries as a means of investigating institutional failings and failures of governance. She was instructed on behalf of core participant victims and complainants in several investigations of the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (2017 and ongoing) appearing as counsel in live-streamed hearings in October 2017 and March 2018.

    She is interested in being instructed to appear on behalf of interested parties in inquests, particularly those under ECHR Article 2 rules (under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 subsection 5(2)).

    Child abuse, human trafficking, & human rights

    Laura’s primary areas of interest are child abuse in all forms, especially in an institutional setting, child sexual exploitation, Human Trafficking, and the trial of sex offences more generally, including of historic complaints.

    She excels at resolving difficult points of law and in presenting nuanced arguments on evidential and human rights points. Laura represented the Criminal Bar Association on the Rape Review, and has given evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee (December 2021) on obstacles to the successful prosecution of rape. She continues to work on developing the CBA’s approach to sexual offence cases as a member of their working group.

    For many years she was the Criminal Law Review case commentator concerning fair trial rights, vulnerable witnesses and vulnerable defendants, and evidence in sex offence prosecutions, and continues to be the commentator for human trafficking cases. She is the author of the chapter (D14) of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice (since 2012) on vulnerable and anonymous witnesses, which has been quoted with approval by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, and is a contributor to all editions of Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings.

    She has completed the Inns of Court vulnerable witness training (in addition to lecturing on vulnerable witness handling to audiences including the Criminal Bar Association and the judiciary) over many years) and can undertake any work requiring sensitive witness handling and the use of special measures.

    Featured cases

    Laura was counsel for victims and complainants (core participants) at three investigations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, into the abusive conduct of Cyril Smith MP, the abuse of children at a Special Educational Needs residential school in Rochdale, the abuse of children by Bishop Peter Ball abuse within ecclesiastical institutions in the Diocese of Chichester, and the preliminary hearings into alleged abuse associated with Westminster.

    Laura is particularly known for her work investigating cross-examination of sexual assault complainants on their previous sexual behaviour (under section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999). In December 2018 Laura published a high-profile study of the operation of section 41 which had been commissioned by the Criminal Bar Association [Report]. This was the largest empirical study ever conducted on how controls on cross-examination on sexual history actually operate in practice, including out-of-court discussions and agreements between counsel, and was unique in obtaining the full perspective on section 41 from prosecuting and defence barristers, instead of relying upon what could be observed by researchers in open court.

    She continues to be active in the development of CBA policy responses in this area as well as in other areas of legal reform proposals, as a member of the CBA Legal Reform Group.

    Medical law & human rights

    Laura has recognised expertise in Human Rights Act 1998/ECHR Article 6 (fair trial rights), Article 5 (wrongful detention) and Article 4 (Human Trafficking, with other Human Trafficking international instruments).

    Because Laura’s expertise extends across interlocking areas in relation to child abuse across public inquiries, criminal prosecutions, tort and human rights litigation and (to a lesser extent) family law, her advice is often sought on the conduct of parallel proceedings. She has considerable experience in the sensitive handling of vulnerable clients and witnesses.

    Laura is particularly interested in being instructed in end-of-life issues and other applications for directions as to medical care in the Court of Protection.

    She has been instructed as a consultant to the NHS Litigation Authority in the leading ‘wrongful conception/wrongful birth’ appellate cases.

    Featured cases

    • Rees v Darlington Memorial Hospital NHS Trust [2003] UKHL 52 (with Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC).
    • Parkinson v St James and Seacroft University Hospital NHS Trust [2002] QB 266 (CA) (with Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC).


    • MA (Oxon)
    • BCL, Balliol College, University of Oxford: First Class
    • JD, Alberta: First Class
    • MA, Mediaeval History, Alberta
    • BA (Hons) History, Alberta: First Class (four year degree)


    Principal scholarships and awards include:

    • Inner Temple Book Prize 2008 for Hoyano & Keenan, Child Abuse Law and Policy across Boundaries (2007)
    • Viscount Bennett National Fellowship (Canadian Bar Association), funding postgraduate studies in Oxford
    • Jenkyns Prize, Balliol College
    • Horace Harvey Gold Medal in Law for the highest degree results across the three years of the JD law degree (Alberta)

    Professional appointments

    • Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Oxford (2021-present)
    • Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford (2021-present)
    • Senior Research Fellow, Wadham College, Oxford (2013-2021)
    • Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford (1999-2021)
    • Fellow & Tutor in Law, Wadham College, Oxford (1999-2013)
    • Fellow of Middle Temple
    • Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol (1993-1999)
    • Barrister and solicitor, Alberta (1983-1997), practising exclusively as a barrister in a fused profession; partner of Cook Duke Cox LLP


    • CBA (member of the Executive Committee, RASSO Working Group, Law Reform Group, and Education & Training Committee)
    • Middle Temple: past member of the Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility Committee, Education Committee
      South Eastern Circuit Access to Justice Working Party (Past Chair of the Human Rights sub-group)
    • South Eastern Circuit
    • Oxford University Bar Society (Past Senior Member)
    • Society of Legal Scholars
    • Wadham College Law Society
    • Younger Society (Balliol College Oxford)
    • Previously: Canadian Bar Association


    • Laura Hoyano & Caroline Keenan: Child Abuse Law and Policy across Boundaries, OUP, 2007. Updated paperback edition 2010; second full edition by Laura Hoyano alone, forthcoming 2023): Winner of the Inner Temple Book Prize 2008 (a four year award for outstanding contribution to legal scholarship and public policy): described by the Judging Panel chaired by Lord Woolf as a masterly book on a hugely important subject, and an invaluable source of ideas and law, theory and practice, not only for practitioner and academic but for policy makers and indeed for all concerned with reform and administration of the law.
    • Nicholas Bamforth & Laura Hoyano: Human Rights in the United Kingdom, OUP, forthcoming 2023

    Selected articles and empirical studies

    • ‘Postage Stamp Justice? Virtual Trials in the Crown Courts under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’, 2021, Crim LR 1029
    • Criminal Bar Association Report
    • ‘Video and live-link evidence: state of play’, 2018, Counsel 2
    • ‘Why We All Should Take the Vulnerable Witness Training Programme’, 2018, Criminal Bar Quarterly 17
    • ‘Putting the Case, in Every Case’, 2018, Counsel 18
    • A Study of the Impact of the Revised Code for Crown Prosecutors, 1997, Crim LR 556 with A Hoyano and G Davies
    • Numerous Criminal Law Review Case Commentaries on Fair Trial Rights, Vulnerable Witnesses, and Human Trafficking.
    • ‘Making s. 28 More Flexible and Effective’, June 2021, Counsel, with John Riley
    • ‘Abusive Relationship offending – Modelling investigation and prosecution strategies: a real example’, Counsel, a two-part series in August and September 2020, with John Riley
    • ‘Judge-Alone Trials can Deliver Justice – But Only if Defendants Choose Them’, 2020, Counsel 32
    • ‘ECHR and Common Law Accountability for Failure to Investigate State Collusion: the Northern Ireland “Legacy Cases”’, 2020, 136 Law Quarterly Review 24, with Nicholas Bamforth
    • ‘ABE 2016/19 Has Gone AWOL’, May 2020, Counsel 38
    • ‘Cross-Examination of Sexual Assault Complainants on Previous Sexual Behaviour: Views From the Barristers’ Row’, 2019, Crim LR 77
    • Report on Sexual Behaviour Evidence: views from the barristers’ row: an empirical study commissioned by the Criminal Bar Association
    • ‘Video and live-link evidence: state of play’, Sept 2018, Counsel 2
    • ‘Why We All Should Take the Vulnerable Witness Training Programme’, 2018, Criminal Bar Quarterly 17
    • ‘Putting the Case, in Every Case’, Oct 2018, Counsel 18
    • ‘Rationing Defence Intermediaries under the April 2016 Criminal Practice Direction’, 2017, Crim LR 92, with Angela Rafferty QC (now HHJ Rafferty QC)
    • ‘ECHR and Common Law Accountability of States for Past Atrocities’, 2016, 132 LQR 357, with Nicholas Bamforth
    • ‘No Deal: a Refresher on the Barrister’s Rule of Independence in Response to the Home Secretary’s Proffered ‘Deal’ to Human Rights Lawyers’, 2019, Counsel 16
    • ‘Reforming the Adversarial Trial for Vulnerable Witnesses and Defendants’, 2015, Crim LR 105
    • ‘What is Balanced on the Scales of Justice? In Search of the Essence of the Right to a Fair Trial’, 2014, Crim LR 4
    • ‘Withholding Potentially Life-Sustaining Treatment and the Mental Capacity Act 2005’, 2014, 36 J of Social Welfare & Fam Law 1
    • ‘Wigs, Skeletons, Bibs and Bundles: an Albertan Barrister Deciphers the English Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)’, 2014, 52 Alberta Law Review 167-170
    • ‘Criminal Child Maltreatment: the Case for Reform’, 2012, Crim LR 871 with Rachel Taylor
    • ‘Coroners and Justice Act 2009 -(3) Special Measures Directions Take Two: Entrenching Unequal Access to Justice?’, 2010, Crim LR 345
    • ‘The Child Witness Review: Much Ado about Too Little’, 2007, Crim LR 849
    • ‘Misconceptions about “Wrongful Conception”’, 2002, 65 MLR 883–906 (cited with approval by the Australian High Court in Cattanach v Melchior [2003] HCA 38 at [78]; also cited by the House of Lords in Rees v Darlington Memorial Hospital Trust [2004] 1 AC 309 at [33]).
    • ‘Striking a Balance between the Rights of Defendants and Vulnerable Witnesses: Will Special Measures Directions Contravene Guarantees of a Fair Trial?’, 2001, Crim LR 948 (cited with approval by Baroness Hale in R v Camberwell Green Youth Court ex parte D [2005] UKHL 4, [2005] 1 WLR 393 [55], by the Irish Law Commission Sexual Offences and Capacity to Consent [2013] IELRC 109 ch 5; and by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission Report 101: Questioning of Complainants by Unrepresented Accused in Sexual Offence Trials (June 2003) p 91)
    • ‘Lies, Recklessness and Deception: Disentangling Dishonesty in Civil Fraud’, 1996, 75 Can Bar Rev 474 – 502 (cited by Alberta Queen’s Bench in Whaley v Statesman Corp [2002] ABQB 515)
    • ‘Variations on a Theme by Pigot: Special Measures Directions for Child Witnesses’, 2000, Crim LR 251
    • ‘House of Lords: Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999: Special Measures Directions – Compliance with Article 6 – Special Measures Directions – Compliance with Article 6’, 2005, 69 J of Criminal Law 488
    • ‘Straining the Quality of Justice for Children and Their Families in Public Law Cases’, 2014, Family Law 598
    • ‘Policing Flawed Police Investigations: Unravelling the Blanket’, 1999, 62 MLR 912 (on Osman v UK (ECtHR))
    • ‘A Study of the Impact of the Revised Code for Crown Prosecutors’, 1997, Crim LR 556, with Allan Hoyano and Gwynn Davies

    Review articles on Fair Trial Rights

    • ‘The Internationalisation of Criminal Evidence: beyond the Common Law and Civil Law Traditions by John D Jackson and Sarah J Summers’, 2013, Crim LR 939
    • ‘Criminal Fair Trial Rights: Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights by Ryan Goss’, 2015, Crim LR 232
    • ‘Children and Cross-Examination: Time to Change the Rules? JR Spencer and ME Lamb, eds’, 2014, 18 E&P 286