Miriam Smith

Miriam has a diverse criminal practice, with an increasing emphasis on extradition, quasi-criminal public law and public inquiries.

Miriam prosecutes and defends in a broad range of criminal and regulatory matters. She acts for requested persons in extradition proceedings and has been appointed to the CPS Specialist Extradition Panel at Grade 1. Miriam has a growing public law and inquiry practice and she is regularly instructed by government agencies and claimants in litigious and advisory matters. She has a particular interest in the intersection between public and criminal law.

Miriam has security clearance and is vetted to SC level.

Miriam is committed to pro bono representation, including for front line organisations as well as for individuals, for which she was ‘highly commended’ in the category of Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year at the 2019 Advocate Bar Pro Bono Awards.

Miriam is a registered direct access practitioner and welcomes instructions from members of the public.

General Crime

Miriam prosecutes and defends in the magistrates’ court, youth court and Crown Court.

She has experience of cases concerning a broad range of criminal offences including serious and domestic violence, theft and fraud, public order, offensive weapons, drugs, sexual offences and driving offences. 

Miriam is frequently instructed in serious matters beyond her year of call. Notable cases include defending in an eight-handed class A and class B drugs supply case involving 35,000 pages of telephone evidence and, following successful representations to the CPS before trial, securing a youth caution for a 15-year-old defendant for possession of category A indecent images with a view to distribution.

Miriam has represented a number of young and vulnerable individuals, in particular those with learning difficulties and mental health conditions. She has undertaken specialised youth justice raining and has experience of a full range of witness handling involving young and vulnerable witnesses, including ground rules, using intermediaries and video-link cross-examination.   

Recent cases include:

R v DP (Aylesbury Crown Court) – prosecuting DP on behalf of a local authority for multiple counts of fraud valued at £250,000 relating to the advertisement and sale of misdescribed motor vehicles over a 2 and a half year period.

R v NW (Kingston Crown Court) – negotiated, on the day of trial, an out of court disposal for a defendant charged with multiple counts of benefit fraud. All counts were left to lie on the file.

R v BH (Ipswich Crown Court) – secured a sentence of 8 years 8 months’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to section 18 wounding, where the defendant stabbed his wife in the head and face multiple times using a screwdriver-like implement in the presence of their 13-year-old daughter. Two of the blows penetrated the complainant’s skull; she required surgery to her brain and remained in hospital for 10 weeks. The case was reported in the local press.

R v HI (Harrow Crown Court) – representing the defendant, who was jointly charged with possession of two knives found in a vehicle. He denied knowledge of the weapons from the outset of proceedings, maintaining they belonged to the co-defendant who was involved in gang-related drug dealing. Following a PII hearing on the day of trial, the Crown offered no evidence against Miriam’s client.

R v KL (Willesden Youth Court) – secured a Youth Rehabilitation Order with Intensive Supervision and Surveillance requirements for an 18 year old defendant convicted after trial of a third knife offence. The case was reported in the local press following legal argument about the reporting restrictions applicable to youths who turn 18 during proceedings.

R v IE (Willesden Magistrates’ Court) – successfully applied on the date of sentence to vacate the defendant’s guilty plea to a charge of driving without insurance on the basis of previous erroneous legal advice. A not guilty plea was entered and the defendant was tried immediately and acquitted.

R v KB (Luton Magistrates’ Court) – successful submission of no case to answer on a charge of assault PC on the basis the officers concerned had unlawfully detained the defendant and therefore were acting outside the lawful execution of their duty at the time of the alleged assault.

Appeals

Miriam has conducted a number of appeals against conviction and sentence from the magistrates’ court and the youth court to the Crown Court. She is currently instructed in a case referred to the Crown Court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission on the basis of a change in the understanding of the law relating to the refugee defence under section 31 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1991.

Miriam is particularly interested in the intersection between public and criminal law and regularly advises on challenging decisions of criminal courts and public bodies in the criminal justice system by way of judicial review. Miriam appeared as sole counsel before a Divisional Court in Mishra v Colchester Magistrates’ Court; Colquhoun v Stratford Magistrates’ Court [2017] EWHC 2869 (Admin), which clarified the law surrounding the 21-day time limit for applying to the magistrates’ court to state a case. This case has been widely reported and features in the most recent editions of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice and Archbold.

Miriam has been appointed to the Centre for Women’s Justice Legal Reference Panel. She provides advice and assistance on a pro bono basis to female victims of physical and sexual violence seeking to challenge decisions not to prosecute by the police or the CPS under the Victim’s Right to Review Scheme.

Confiscation

Miriam is regularly instructed to deal with confiscation proceedings, both when having dealt with the underlying criminal allegations and after trial. Miriam is well versed with the complexities of the legislation and practical requirements to ensure the best possible result for her client. She frequently acts in confiscation proceedings that would ordinarily be beyond her year of call. Notable cases include securing an order of £50 for the lead defendant in a multi-handed class A drugs conspiracy, sentenced on the basis of a leading role, where the Crown alleged the benefit was over £150,000.

Miriam also has experience representing interested parties under section 10A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. She recently acted for an interested party in contested confiscation proceedings where the alleged benefit was over £1 million and there were parallel property determinations and divorce proceedings in the Family Court. Through experience such as this, Miriam has learnt how the involvement of a third party can assist the defendant in reducing the assets available for confiscation.

In addition to confiscation, Miriam acts in and advises on cash seizure and forfeiture, restraint, section 22 and 23 applications and enforcement.

Regulatory and Consumer Protection

Miriam has extensive experience of prosecuting cases on behalf of local authorities and private prosecutors.

She has been instructed by local authorities to prosecute a variety of criminal and regulatory matters including consumer frauds, environmental offences, school attendance offences, breaches of food safety and hygiene regulations, taxi licensing and breaches of consumer regulations.

Miriam has also conducted prosecutions on behalf of Royal Mail, the Architects Registration Board, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner and the National Probation Service.

Recent cases include:

R v CM & M Ltd (Aylesbury Crown Court) – prosecuting, on behalf of a local authority, a defendant and his company for 10 offences contrary to the Consumer Protection from Trading Regulations 2008.

R v AE (Westminster Magistrates’ Court) – representing a doctor, prosecuted by a local authority, for misuse of a blue badge.

ARB v AG & AA Ltd (Southend Magistrates’ Court) – prosecuting, on behalf of the Architects Registration Board, an individual and a company for use of the title ‘architect’ on the company’s website and in online advertising of its services when not registered to do so.

Extradition

Miriam appears on behalf of requested persons in extradition proceedings and has been appointed to the CPS Grade 1 Extradition Panel.

Miriam has acted in cases involving arguments relating to the independence of a public prosecutor, prison conditions, conviction in absence, the validity of the EAW, the requested person’s health and complex Article 8 cases.

Prison Law

Miriam provides advice and representation in Parole Board hearings and adjudication hearings, frequently acting on behalf of life sentenced and IPP sentenced prisoners in complex cases. She also advises on judicial review claims challenging decisions of the Parole Board and decisions relating to parole.

Recent cases include:

Re GW – secured a recommendation for release to open conditions for an IPP sentenced prisoner who was 7 years over tariff.

Re ZR – challenge to the Parole Board’s refusal to direct release under the reconsideration mechanism. 

Re HD – instructed in a challenge to a local authority’s refusal to provide suitable supported accommodation for a vulnerable prisoner upon release.

Before her career at the Bar, Miriam volunteered at Prisoners’ Advice Service for two years. She advised prisoners on a wide range of prison law matters, including the merits of potential civil claims and judicial review claims, and assisted with legal advice clinics in prisons in London. Accordingly, Miriam is very familiar with the wide ranging issues faced by prisoners during their time in custody and has significant experience of matters such as adjudications, categorisation reviews and the imposition of licence conditions and their respective means of challenge.

Public Inquiries and Inquests

Miriam is currently instructed as junior counsel by a key Core Participant in the Undercover Policing Inquiry chaired by Sir John Mitting. Through this work she has gained particular knowledge of matters relating to public interest immunity, disclosure and open/closed proceedings arising from security concerns.

Miriam has appeared in coronial proceedings, representing families of the deceased and institutional interested persons. She has acted in cases involving medical and psychiatric treatment and deaths in state custody and has experience of making successful submissions on the engagement of Article 2.

Public Law

Miriam has a growing public law practice. She has been instructed in litigious and advisory matters by a range of government departments and agencies, including the DVLA, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and Ofqual. She regularly drafts summary grounds of defence in immigration challenges before the Upper Tribunal.

Miriam also advises and appears for claimants in judicial reviews and appeals in quasi-criminal matters. She has advised on challenges relating to the disclosure of criminal convictions and recently appeared before the Upper Tribunal in an appeal concerning inclusion in the children’s barred list following. Miriam has acted for the victims of crime and their family members in a number of successful criminal injuries compensation cases, both in appeals before the First-tier Tribunal and in judicial review proceedings before the Upper Tribunal. She will appear before the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) in October 2020 in a case concerning the scope of the test for applying to re-open an award of compensation, having successfully secured permission to appeal from the Upper Tribunal despite not acting below.

As a member of the Centre for Women’s Justice Legal Reference Panel, Miriam also provides advice and assistance on a pro bono basis to female victims of physical and sexual violence seeking to challenge decisions not to prosecute by the police or the CPS under the Victim’s Right to Review Scheme. She successfully challenged one such decision prior to the issue of judicial review proceedings.

Appointments / Professional

Professional Appointments

  • CPS Advocates Panel Grade 2
  • CPS Specialist Extradition Panel Grade 1
  • CPS Specialist Proceeds of Crime Panel Grade 2
  • Government Legal Department’s Junior Junior Scheme

Professional Memberships

  • Defence Extraditions Lawyers Forum
  • Young Fraud Lawyers’ Association
  • Proceeds of Crime Lawyers’ Association
  • Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers