Felicity McMahon

Felicity McMahon

Felicity acts and advises all aspects of Chambers’ practice, both Claimant and Defendant work, including: defamation, privacy and confidence, data protection, copyright, access to journalistic material, contempt, harassment and injunctive relief. Her work often includes consideration of the balance between Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

She has particular experience on data protection issues, both advisory and where litigation is contemplated or brought, whether alone or in conjunction with other causes of action such as breach of confidence, misuse of private information or defamation

Felicity has appeared in the High Court, Court of Appeal and County Courts, and has experience both as sole counsel and being led.

Felicity also acts in harassment cases, in particular those involving publication and issues of free speech. During 2018 she acted as sole counsel in two harassment trials, in both the Court granted permanent harassment injunctions protecting Felicity’s claimant clients. She also acts for defendants, and recently obtained an order striking out a harassment claim brought against her client.

Felicity takes a keen interest in issues relating to online publication, social media and user-generated content.

Recent Work

Felicity’s recent work includes:

  • Ali & Aslam v Channel 5 – Acting as junior counsel for the claimants in a privacy action in both the High Court and Court of Appeal relating to an episode of Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away;
  • Obtaining an order that Apple provide a widow with access to family photographs on her late husband’s icloud account;
  • Morgan v Associated Newspapers Ltd – acting for the successful claimant in this defamation case (led by Justin Rushbrooke QC);
  • Acting for the successful claimant in a data protection claim: after a 4 day trial the court ordered the defendants to undertake further searches for the claimant’s personal data;
  • Acting for the claimant in a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, in which a permanent injunction was granted after a 2 day trial;
  • Stiking out a data protection claim brought against a local authority;
  • Advising a national newspaper on the publication of articles resulting from an investigation into match-fixing in sport;
  • Advising organisations on data protection policies, processes and obligations, under the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018;
  • Advising a company on a defamation and malicious falsehood claim, which resulted in a six-figure settlement;
  • Advising on libel and committal proceedings in the Bahamas;
  • Acting for a company defending a claim for defamation;
  • Acting for Associated Newspapers in relation to reporting restrictions in a family law case;
  • Acting for Wafic Saïd in a data protection claim against Barclays Bank;
  • Acting for a number of media organisations seeking to lift a reporting restriction on naming a teenager convicted of a terrorism offence.
  • Taking part in a large scale disclosure exercise for a client in relation to defamation litigation;
  • A secondment as Data Protection and Commercial Lawyer at Channel 4, advising on data protection across the organisation’s activities, as well as negotiating, drafting and advising on commercial contracts.

Felicity regularly provides pre-publication advice to book publishers, specialist scientific and medical publications and NGOs. She has advised newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, the Sun, the Daily Telegraph and the Racing Post, and spent time working with the in-house legal team of The Times and The Sunday Times, and the legal and compliance team at Channel 4. Felicity has also provided on-set advice in relation to a feature film.


Felicity regularly gives talks on topics including the Defamation Act 2013, GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, and social media and the law, at 5RB talks/Conference, Middle Temple, in-house for clients, and for the American Bar Association.

At the Computer, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) Conference 2017 in Brussels she spoke on the Data Protection after Brexit panel (which can be watched here).

Before 5RB

Before joining Chambers Felicity spent two years in the Legal Policy team at the Ministry of Justice,where she provided advice to Ministers on a number of areas of law and policy including: injunctions against the press, privacy, criminal offences, human rights, Parliamentary privilege and judicial review. Felicity coordinated the Ministry of Justice response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Report on Press Standards, Privacy and Libel. Felicity has also been a Research Assistant in the Law Commission’s Public Law Team, and a Legal Intern in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Pro Bono

Felicity is a Bar Pro Bono Unit representative. She also acts as a mentor to law students from the University of Kent.

Scholarships etc

– Queen Mother Scholar, Middle Temple Inn

– ERASMUS Scholarship

– John Kisch Prize for Outstanding Performance, University of Kent


2008 Called to the Bar of England and Wales


Bar Vocational Course, BPP Law School, Very Competent - 2007-2008
LLM Law University of London (Kings College London), Distinction - 2005-2006
Diploma in Spanish Law, University of Deusto, Bilbao - 2003-2004
LLB 1st Class Hons English and Spanish Law, University of Kent - 2001-2005

Areas of work

Defamation and Malicious Falsehood
Privacy and Confidence
Data Protection and Information Law
Pre-publication Advice
Reporting the Courts and Contempt
Injunctive Relief


“She is personable, makes herself available despite her full diary, and is super intelligent.”

Chambers & Partners (Defamation/Privacy)

“An excellent, no-nonsense barrister who understands media clients and gives robust and practical advice.” “She is personable, makes herself available despite a full diary, and is super intelligent.”

Chambers & Partners (Data Protection)

A respected junior with a recognised expertise in data protection matters. She is regularly called upon to advise on organisations’ obligations towards the data they hold and how they are permitted to use it. She is also adept at handling cases involving defamation, harassment and privacy, as part of her broad media and communications practice.
“She’s super bright and demonstrates wonderful attention to detail.” “She’s very able and very down to earth.”

Chambers & Partners

Impressive legal knowledge and first-class attention to detail.

Legal 500


Spanish - Advanced written and spoken; French - Working knowledge


Bar Pro Bono Unit
Vice Chair of the Hall Committee of the Middle Temple
Member of Membership Committee of the Middle Temple

Featured cases

Building Register Ltd v Weston

[2014] EWHC 2361 (QB) 23/07/2014

Morgan v Associated Newspapers Ltd

[2018] EWHC 3960(QB) 07/12/2018

All cases

Defamation and Malicious Falsehood

Morgan v Associated Newspapers Ltd

[2018] EWHC 3960(QB) 07/12/2018

Building Register Ltd v Weston

[2014] EWHC 2361 (QB) 23/07/2014


5RB Podcast - Data subject access requests

By Felicity McMahon. 12 Dec 2019

The Pupillage Podcast: Media & Defamation Law

By Felicity McMahon. 1 Nov 2019

Get Social Media Savvy

By Felicity McMahon. 14 Jan 2019

Protecting Public Officials and Corporates - Q&A

By Felicity McMahon. 7 Jul 2016

Privacy, the Internet and Social Media - Abridged Extract

By Felicity McMahon. 22 Jan 2016

The Supreme Court decision in OPO v MLA

By Felicity McMahon. 29 Oct 2015

When are website operators liable for user comments? - Delfi AS v Estonia

By Felicity McMahon. 14 Jul 2015

Data Protection – Key Issues 2015

By Felicity McMahon. 28 Jan 2015

A Libel Revolution?

By Felicity McMahon. 14 Oct 2014

The shrinking scope for anonymity in the Court of Protection

By Felicity McMahon. 9 Jul 2014

Free Speech Online

By Felicity McMahon. 4 Jun 2014


Clerk & Lindsell on Torts 22nd Edition

Sweet & Maxwell
By Felicity McMahon. 11 Jan 2018

The Law of Privacy and the Media 3rd Edition

By Felicity McMahon. 22 Jan 2016

Clerk & Lindsell on Torts, 21st edition

Sweet & Maxwell
By Felicity McMahon. 4 Nov 2014

Blackstone's Guide to the Defamation Act 2013

Oxford University Press
By Felicity McMahon. 19 Sep 2013

In 5RB News

19 Apr 2021

Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away! Statement in Open Court

Channel 5 apologises and agrees to pay substantial damages

9 Apr 2020

5RB talks – the Supreme Court decision in the Morrisons data breach case

Jonathan Barnes, Aidan Eardley and Felicity McMahon discuss

18 Jun 2019

5RB at the London Legal Walk 2019

14 May 2019

Apple ordered to provide access to family photos

11 Apr 2018

Permission to Appeal granted in “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!” case

Arnold J grants the Claimants permission to appeal on quantum

22 Feb 2018

‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!’ Claimants win £20,000

Judgment handed down in privacy case  

11 Jan 2018

New defamation textbook publications

Gatley 2nd Supplement and 22nd Edition of Clerk & Lindsell on Torts

25 May 2017

5RB at the London Legal Walk 2017

Over £2,500 raised for LLST, FRU and the Bar Pro Bono Unit

9 Jun 2016

Wafic Saïd settles Data Protection Act claim against Barclays

Bank apologises in joint public statement

19 May 2016

5RB at the London Legal Walk 2016

£2,157.19 raised for LLSU, FRU and the Bar Pro Bono Unit

11 Apr 2016

5RB at the Big Voice London Moots

Adam Speker and Felicity McMahon act as judges

22 Jan 2016

New edition of The Law of Privacy and the Media published

Read an extract on Privacy, the Internet and Social Media

7 Oct 2015

15 year old convicted of terror offence cannot be named

Court continues reporting restriction

13 Mar 2015

5RB at the Big Voice London Moots

Godwin Busuttil and Felicity McMahon act as judges

17 Feb 2015

5RB Talks 2015: Bristol

5RB's Jacob Dean, Felicity McMahon and Julian Santos spoke at the Bristol office of Osborne Clarke

6 Nov 2014

21st Edition of Clerk & Lindsell on Torts out now

New edition includes Defamation chapter edited by Adam Speker and Felicity McMahon

20 May 2014

5RB at the London Legal Walk

Chambers team raised £2341.25

20 Nov 2013

Defamation Act 2013 to come into force on 1 January 2014

Lord McNally confirms Act will come into force in New Year

20 Sep 2013

Social media marketing: new legal guide

5RB barristers contribute to Vocus 'Whitepaper'

19 Sep 2013

Blackstone’s Guide to the Defamation Act 2013 published

Guide to the new Act out now

31 Oct 2012

5RB Sponsors National Pro Bono Centre

Chambers continues support for Pro Bono work as Bronze Sponsor

6 Jul 2012

5RB: arrivals and departure

Tenancy moves and new recruitment