Ian has been listed as a leading junior in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 since 2008 when he was singled out as a star of the future. In recent entries he has been described as “outstanding”, “absolutely first class” and “frankly brilliant”. Ian is noted as an advocate who “exudes a calm authority”; he is “excellent on his feet”, “not afraid to take on silks in court” and “unflappable” which has led his peers to mark him as “a future silk”. He is “extremely knowledgeable” with “excellent judgement” and “a great eye for detail” which enables him to give "firm opinions" and “really put clients at ease”.
He is recommended as an expert junior in both Defamation/Privacy and Data Protection categories.
Ian specialises in all aspects of media and information law. He has a wealth of experience in complex, cutting edge and high-profile litigation and has been at the forefront of recent developments in privacy and data protection law – including acting in the first UK ‘right to be forgotten’ case – and the law under the Defamation Act 2013 – appearing successfully, for example, in the first case concerning the new public interest defence.
Ian is a member of the Society for Computers and the Law and has developed a particular expertise in relation to data security and data breaches. He regularly provides advice and representation to data controllers, where his legal, tactical and practical expertise across the field of information law and ICO regulation is invaluable. Equally, he often acts for individuals whose private information has been or may have been compromised. He is well-versed in acting in matters of great urgency, including when it is necessary to obtain an injunction without notice.
In addition to his practice, Ian is a Visiting Lecturer at Kings College University teaching information and privacy law. He has contributed to many of the leading textbooks in the field and regularly gives talks to law firms and industry bodies in relation to new developments in media law.
Ian is an active member of the Bar Pro Bono Unit.
ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
Ian has a first class law degree from Pembroke College, Cambridge University, graduating in 2003. He won the Ziegler Law Prize for his performance in his final year exams.
Ian was called to the Bar in July 2005 and commenced tenancy at One Brick Court in October 2006, having successfully completed pupillage. Between January and June 2007 Ian was the Judicial Assistant to Lord Justice Waller, Vice President of the Court of Appeal.
REPRESENTATIVE CASES OF INTEREST
Ian has appeared in a very substantial number of media law cases over the years; as is noted in the most recent edition of Chambers & Partners “he has already played an instrumental role in the establishment of certain principles in the field, including the ‘right to be forgotten’”. However, much of the work that Ian does concerns sensitive commercial and personal information – including that of very high-profile companies and individuals – and the paramount concern of confidentiality precludes publication of details of the case or of Ian’s involvement. The following is therefore a list of recent representative public cases only:
Hegglin v Google Inc
First domestic case to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ established by the CJEU in Costeja v Google Spain. Led by Hugh Tomlinson QC but appeared in his own right in No.2 opposite Anthony White QC, a decision important to issues of costs capping and costs budgeting. The case eventually settled shortly before trial.
Citations:  EWHC 2808;  EWHC 3793
Economou v De Freitas
First trial of the new public interest defence under section 4 of the Defamation Act 2013. Appeared for the successful Defendant, led by Manuel Barca QC and also appeared in his own right successfully to resist an application by the Claimant to permit a late amendment.
Citations:  EWHC 1218;  EWHC 1853
HCN v Chelsea & Westminster NHS Hospital Trust
Counsel for the Claimant in a privacy and data protection dispute arising from the accidental disclosure by the Defendant of extremely sensitive medical information. The Defendant admitted liability and the claim settled very shortly before trial.
Richards v NPUK & Others
Counsel for one of the Defendants, twice successfully resisting interim injunction applications based upon alleged unlawful interception and/or interference with communications.
Ames v Spamhaus
Counsel for the Defendants opposite Adrienne Page QC in a complex libel, privacy, copyright and data protection dispute concerning domestic and US law in relation to spam emails. A leading authority on the relationship between section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013 and Jameel abuse of process.
Citations:  EWHC 127
A v Department for Work & Pensions
Counsel for the Claimants in a privacy and data protection dispute arising from the accidental disclosure by the Defendant of sensitive information. The claim settled very shortly before trial.
Karpov v Browder
Junior counsel for the Claimant, led by Andrew Caldecott QC in a defamation claim based upon serious allegations made concerning involvement in the death of Sergei Magnitsky in Russia.
Citations:  EWHC 3071
Liberty v Primark
Counsel for the First and Third Defendants, successfully striking out as a Jameel abuse of process a claim for libel arising out of events subsequent to the collapse of a factory building in Bangladesh.
Citations:  EWHC 415
McGrath v Bedford
Counsel for the Defendants in a complex libel claim involving water purification systems. Successfully appeared at a number of interlocutory hearings before the claim was compromised.
Citations:  EWHC 174
Ontulmus v Collett (No.2)
Counsel for the Claimants opposite James Price QC on an application for security for costs in a complex multi-million pound defamation claim concerning megayachts.
Citations:  EWHC 294
Voicemail Interception Litigation
Part of the legal team acting on behalf of News Group Newspapers Limited in relation to the civil claims for misuse of private information arising out of phone-hacking at the News of the World.
Cairns v Modi
Junior Counsel for the Claimant, led by Andrew Caldecott QC, in the first defamation trial based upon a Tweet. A damages award of £90,000 for an allegation of match-fixing was upheld by the Court of Appeal in a decision which is now the leading authority on principles applicable to damages awards in respect of online defamation.
Citations:  EWHC 2859;  EWHC 756;  EWCA Civ 1382
Mionis v Papadakou
Counsel for the Claimant, a highly successful hedge fund manager, in relation to a libel in a Greek newspaper in relation to false allegations of involvement in tax evasion. At an assessment of damages hearing the Claimant was awarded £40,000 in respect of publication within this jurisdiction.
Waterson v Lloyd
Junior Counsel for the Defendant, led by Richard Rampton QC, in a libel claim arising from the MPs expenses scandal. Following a number of hearings at first instance and in the Court of Appeal the Defendant was awarded summary judgment on the issue of honest comment.
Citations:  EWHC 3197  EWHC 3292  EWCA Civ 136  EWHC 2201
Webb v Draper
Counsel for the Defendant in respect of a claim for damages under the Malicious Communications Act 1988. Established on an application for summary judgment that the Act was solely a criminal statute and did not create any civil rights or liabilities.
Appeared on behalf of the family of the deceased at a number of hearings following the death of Mr Perepilichnyy in 2012.
Ian is recommended by both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 as an expert junior in both Data Protection and Defamation/Privacy categories. Recent entries include:
Senior defamation junior who is particular well regarded for data protection and freedom of information matters. “He has an excellent grasp of the overlap between libel and data protection law and has excellent judgment. He is a very clear advocate and is not afraid to take on silks in court.” Chambers & Partners 2017
He has already played an instrumental role in the establishment of certain principles in the field, including the ‘right to be forgotten’. “He is really smart. He cuts to the point quickly and is very commercial.” “He is extremely knowledgeable, excellent on his feet and someone who gives firms opinions on the merits and chances of success, which puts clients at ease.” Chambers & Partners 2017
A popular choice for complex and cutting-edge media disputes. “He’s outstanding – very reliable and easy to deal with, with a very calm and measured advocacy style.” "He thinks very carefully; he's a good tactician." Chambers & Partners 2016
“He is frankly brilliant; he is diligent, thorough, imaginative and really inspires confidence” Chambers & Partners 2015
He is “personable, reliable and prompt” Legal 500 2016
Ian has built a strong reputation amongst peers, who tout him as a future silk. He is particularly admired for his ability to engage with clients even in difficult circumstances."Absolutely first-class, he has a very good manner with clients and exudes a calm authority." "Provides excellent advice and identifies the key issues immediately." Chambers & Partners 2014
“He is unflappable, patient and has a great eye for detail.” The Legal 500 2014
Ian Helme continues to impress sources with displays of legal knowledge far beyond his year of call. He is both "extremely good on technical legal points and highly commercial." Allied to this, he has a pleasing work ethic manifested by his "willingness to roll up his sleeves and be a real team player." Chambers & Partners 2013
Ian is an author of or contributor to:
- Halsbury’s Laws of England, Defamation title
- Arlidge, Eady and Smith on Contempt, 4th edition & supplements (and forthcoming 5th edition)
- Carter-Ruck on Libel & Privacy, 5th edition
- Atkin’s Court Forms, Defamation title, 2014 edition