Joanna Cherry QC

Year of Call
Year of Silk
Devil Masters
Laura Dunlop QC
Sheriff Ruth Anderson QC

Contact 0131 260 5824

Practice Profile

Joanna’s main areas of interest are human rights, public law, criminal law and appellate work.
Before entering politics, Joanna served as Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Government from 2003-2008 and an Advocate Depute, full time from 2008-2011 and part time from 2002-2015. She appeared in the United Kingdom Supreme Court for both criminal and civil appeals, in the Inner and Outer Houses of the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary and in the Sheriff Court, both at first instance and in appeals to Sheriffs Principal. She also appeared before the Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and in Fatal Accident Inquiries. As an Advocate Depute, Joanna appeared as lead counsel for the Lord Advocate twice before the Supreme Court and three times before full benches of the High Court of Justiciary. She conducted numerous High Court trials and solemn conviction appeals. Upon returning from Crown Office to private practice in 2011 Joanna was instructed in a range of cases at first instance and on appeal including an appeal to the Supreme Court in the field of mental health law before being elected as the MP for Edinburgh Southwest in 2015.

During her political career Joanna’s focus has been on legal affairs as her party's Spokesperson on Justice and Home Affairs at Westminster (2015-2021), Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (2021-date) and Deputy Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Rule of Law (2015-date)

In 2018 she was a co- litigant in the case of Wightman & Ors v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in which the Court of Justice of the European Union held that Article 50 could be unilaterally revoked. In 2019 she was the lead litigant in the case of Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland which established that the prorogation of parliament was unlawful.
Joanna is an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple.

Education & Professional Career to Date

LLB Hons (First Class) Edinburgh University 1988 (Constitutional Law Honours Essay Prize Winner)
LLM 1989 (Vans Dunlop Scholar)
Dip LP 1990
Traineeship and 2.5 years post qualifying with Brodies WS
Tutor University of Edinburgh
Research Assistant Scottish Law Commission


  • Member of Parliament for Edinburgh Southwest
  • Deputy Chair of Joint Committee on Human Rights
  • Vice Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on the Rule of Law
  • Officer of All Party Parliamentary Group on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
  • Member of the Council of Justice (Human Rights Charity) Edinburgh Foundation for Women in Law (founding member)
  • Member of the Council of University College London’s Constitution Unit
  • Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple
  • Advocate Depute and Senior Advocate Depute (2008–2011)
  • Ad hoc Advocate Depute (2002–2015)
  • Standing Junior to the Scottish Government (2003–2008)
  • Member of the Faculty of Advocates Faculty Council; the Dean’s Council; the Training and Admission Committee; the Board of Examiners and the Disciplinary Rules: Disciplinary Tribunals Committee (2010–2015)
  • Chairperson of the Clark Foundation Legal Education Advisory Committee
  • Faculty of Advocates Advocacy Skills Instructor
  • Trustee Scottish Council of Law Reporting
  • Scottish Womens Rights Centre Advisory Group
  • SNP Justice Spokesperson at Westminster (2015–2021)
  • Member of Select Committee on Exiting the European Union (2006–2021)
  • Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards - Best Scot at Westminster

Publications & Seminars

Since entering politics Joanna has published widely on current and legal affairs, particularly matters relating to Brexit, Human Rights and the Rule of Law and spoken at conferences and events across Europe. She has a weekly column in the National newspaper.

In November 2020 Joanna delivered the prestigious Wales Governance Centre Annual Lecture - “Stands Scotland Where She Did? - Scotland’s journey back to statehood”

Prior to entering politics Joanna spoke at various national and international conferences and seminars, notably in April 2010 at the New South Wales Prosecutors' Conference in Sydney, Australia where she delivered a paper on The Prosecution of Sexual Crime in Scotland.

Joanna is joint author and legal editor of second edition of the textbook "Mental

Joanna previously provided reviews of legal textbooks for journals including the SLT and the Edinburgh Law Review.

Additional Information

Conversational French
Elected Member of Parliament serving the Edinburgh South West constituency from May 2015 to present.