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United Kingdom > London Bar > Social housing > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Social housing - Leading sets
  2. Leading Silks
  3. Leading Juniors

Leading Silks

  1. 1
    • Andrew Arden QC - Nexus ChambersHe is widely recognised as an extremely eminent figure in the social housing law arena.
    • Ranjit Bhose QC - Cornerstone BarristersHis quality of legal advice is allied to pragmatism and good people skills
    • Martin Westgate QC - Doughty Street ChambersHis contribution to housing, social welfare and public law is already immensely impressive and looks set to increase for years to come
  2. 2
  3. 3
    • Richard Drabble QC - Landmark ChambersHis social housing work is part of a wider public law and planning practice.
    • Ian Wise QC - Monckton ChambersHe has experience of cases concerning the lawfulness of housing allocation policies, and also matters involving housing obligations to children with disabilities.

Leading Juniors

  1. 1
  2. 2
    • Tim Baldwin - Garden Court ChambersHe is approachable, friendly and extremely thorough
    • Kuljit Bhogal - Cornerstone BarristersShe is certainly one of the most formidable juniors.
    • Jamie Burton - Doughty Street ChambersHe has a particularly strong track record in the area of homelessness, where has featured in a number of leading cases
    • David Carter - Doughty Street ChambersHe has expert knowledge and will always assist
    • Clare Cullen - Field Court ChambersShe has a brilliant and incisive legal mind. She is devastatingly effective within a courtroom and is able to come up with creative and pragmatic advice when conducting litigation.
    • Stephen Evans - Five PaperKnown for advising local authority and registered provider landlords on housing matters, including dilapidations claims and cases involving disability discrimination/Equality Act issues
    • Jon Holbrook - Cornerstone BarristersHis experience includes possession cases involving Human Rights Act defences, homelessness and allocations (including the immigration aspects) and disrepair-related matters
    • Lindsay Johnson - Doughty Street ChambersHis experience spans all areas of housing law. Homelessness cases are a notable area of strength
    • David Lintott - Cornerstone BarristersHe has a particular strength in homelessness litigation, where he has appeared in a number of leading cases at the Court of Appeal
    • Ian Peacock - 4-5 Gray's Inn SquareHe has an unsurpassed understanding of the practicalities of local government litigation
    • Toby Vanhegan - 4-5 Gray's Inn SquareHe is very approachable and pleasant to work with
  3. 3
    • Sara Beecham - Five PaperIs very personable and is very good at explaining complex issues to the lay client
    • Robert Brown - Selborne ChambersHe is a brainbox.
    • Rebecca Cattermole - Tanfield ChambersKnowledgeable about the interplay between social housing and human rights, and also has an understanding of the property aspects of social housing.
    • Iain Colville - 4-5 Gray's Inn SquareHis expertise includes homelessness appeals and judicial reviews, housing allocation, possession claims and anti-social behaviour'
    • Justine Compton - Garden Court ChambersShe is very knowledgeable, her paper work is good and timely. She is very good on her feet too
    • Tina Conlan - Five PaperSought out for advice on homelessness appeals, housing matters involving anti-social behaviour and disrepair claims
    • Stephen Cottle - Garden Court ChambersExcellent advocate, intellectually strong, with a commitment to the cause and personable nature
    • Adrian Davis - Field Court ChambersHis recent work has included tenancy fraud cases and homelessness appeals.
    • Emma Godfrey - Field Court ChambersShe is precise in her paper work, a very effective advocate and is always willing to take on a challenge.
    • Bethan Harris - Garden Court ChambersShe specialises in housing matters involving Equality Act 2010, mental capacity and community care issues
    • Naomi Hawkes - 42 Bedford RowHer advice is very well-received by clients.
    • Ryan Kohli - Cornerstone BarristersAn excellent, up-and-coming barrister; he is well-prepared and attentive in court.
    • Alison Meacher - HardwickeHer housing work is interlinked with welfare assistance issues, and also those concerning vulnerable adults.
    • Zia Nabi - Doughty Street ChambersHe manages to challenge settled thinking on a legal issue so often but so well that you end up seeing a case in a completely different light
    • Catherine O'Donnell - Garden Court ChambersAn expert in tenants' rights in relation to disrepair and other adverse housing conditions
    • Jennifer Oscroft - Cornerstone BarristersSpecialises in public law challenges of decisions to decisions of social landlords
    • Victoria Osler - Five PaperHer strength is that she will not easily give up, has a lot of energy and will fight her client’s corner while she remains standing
    • Dominic Preston - Doughty Street ChambersHis forensic and thorough approach is perfect on difficult cases. He digs in and it makes a real difference
    • Sarah Salmon - Field Court ChambersHer pleadings and advice are always immaculately set out, persuasive, clearly written and well researched. Sarah is also a confident and successful court advocate.
    • Marina Sergides - Garden Court ChambersShe provides really detailed advice and is very knowledgeable of the law. Able to think outside the box
    • Jim Shepherd - Doughty Street ChambersHe is such a pleasure to work with and gives all cases his utmost attention
    • Laura Tweedy - HardwickeShe has a no-fuss approach, is well on top of her brief and gives confidence to clients at court.
  4. 4
    • Wayne Beglan - Cornerstone BarristersHe has in-depth knowledge of the law and good personal skills
    • Morayo Fagborun Bennett - HardwickeHas developed into a tremendous social housing barrister. She really gets the sector. Judges, clients and opponents all respect her. One who could go all the way.
    • Sally Blackmore - Ely Place ChambersHas excellent knowledge of housing and public law. She works exceptionally hard, her advice is thorough, well researched and practical.
    • Annette Cafferkey - 4-5 Gray's Inn Square'She has appeared in every level of court and tribunal on housing matters, all the way up to the Supreme Court,
    • Alexander Campbell - Field Court ChambersHis housing law expertise is complemented by knowledge of discrimination and human rights issues.
    • Ben Chataway - Doughty Street ChambersHe is particularly strong in cases involving discrimination and public law issues, such as those concerning homelessness and allocation schemes
    • Shomik Datta - Cornerstone BarristersMainly represents landlords and registered providers in possession claims and succession claims, as well as homelessness appeals and disrepair cases
    • Sian Davies - 39 Essex ChambersHer practice operates at the interface between housing and immigration, as well as welfare assistance.
    • Iris Ferber - 42 Bedford RowShe gets the point straightaway and moves directly to finding a solution.
    • Angela Hall - Five PaperAn excellent advocate, who is confident and compelling on her feet
    • Josephine Henderson - Five PaperShe has more than 20 years of housing law experience
    • Jane Hodgson - Five PaperShe is knowledgeable about security of tenure and succession rights, disrepair and unlawful eviction, among other areas
    • Connor Johnston - Garden Court ChambersThinks through all the issues in the case and knows the law like the back of his hand
    • Stephanie Lovegrove - 4-5 Gray's Inn SquareShe is active in complex possession claims, homelessness and leasehold disputes
    • Sam Madge-Wyld - Tanfield ChambersVery good and very reliable.
    • Ben Maltz - Five PaperHe assists local authorities and registered providers with a wide range of housing matters. Tenancy fraud cases are a notable area of specialism
    • Sam Phillips - Five PaperA truly formidable advocate. Whether he is in the High Court, Court of Appeal or in the County Court, he is eloquent and nimble on his feet and devastating in cross-examination
    • Anneli Robins - 4-5 Gray's Inn SquareStrong in housing-related appeals and matters involving children and vulnerable adults
    • Catherine Rowlands - Cornerstone BarristersShe primarily represents local authorities in housing law matters, with particular expertise in homelessness law
    • Sarah Steinhardt - Doughty Street ChambersShe is knowledgeable about mental capacity and discrimination in housing
    • Anna Tkaczynska - Serjeants' Inn ChambersHer housing law expertise is complemented by her knowledge about public law, Equality Act and capacity issues.
    • Adrian Marshall Williams - Garden Court ChambersHe has a keen eye for detail and will spot any novel or unusual legal or other argument that might be available, and will not be afraid to run with it

Cornerstone Barristers is particularly well-known for acting for local authorities and housing associations in some of the most complex, groundbreaking cases impacting the social housing sphere. Its 'first-rate' members combine housing law knowledge with extensive expertise in related areas, such as the Children Act, adult social care, and immigration rights. Reflective of the set's involvement in high-profile cases, in 2018, Ranjit Bhose QC represented the London Borough of Haringey in Peters (on behalf of the ‘Stop the HDV Campaign Group’) v London Borough of Haringey & Lendlease Europe Holdings Limited, a judicial review claim challenging the lawfulness of the local authority entering into the proposed Haringey Development Vehicle; this is a multi-million pound 50-50 public-private partnership vehicle (the biggest local authority housing regeneration vehicle ever in the UK), which was to be used to regenerate Haringey’s housing estates. Also of note, Ryan Kohli acted as sole counsel to the appellant in the landmark Court of Appeal case of Paragon Housing Association v Neville, which concerned the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on warrant suspension applications. Chambers has been strengthened by the arrival of Riccardo Calzavara from Arden Chambers.

Doughty Street Chambers garners praise from instructing law firms, who note that it 'provides excellent service and has a number of standout barristers'. Its reputation as one of the leading sets for social housing (notably on the tenant side) is underpinned by its consistent involvement in many of the leading decisions in this area, as well as cases involving novel legal issues. Martin Westgate QC and Dominic Preston acted for Abdelrahim Alibkhiet at the Supreme Court in Alibkhiet v Brent LBC, which concerns a challenge to the local authority's procurement and allocations policy in relation to the provision of temporary accommodation. The matter is now pending before the Supreme Court. Also notable is that Westgate QC and others represented the non-governmental organisation Liberty as an intervening party in Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Goloshvili v Secretary of State for the Home Department. These are two linked, systemic challenges to the government's 'Right to Rent' scheme.

4-5 Gray's Inn Square inherited a sizeable social housing team when it merged with Arden Chambers in October 2018. The group has expertise in the full range of issues, including homelessness, housing benefit, rent arrears, and anti-social behaviour. Reflective of the footprint of the amalgamated set in the sector, a number of members are playing a key role in the Grenfell Tower inquiry. In addition, numerous individuals have appeared at the Supreme Court recently; in one example, Jonathan Manning represented the local authority respondent in Samuels v Birmingham CC; this was a homelessness appeal, which concerned whether or not the appellant had lawfully been found to be intentionally homeless, on the basis that the accommodation she left was affordable. In the Court of Appeal, Toby Vanhegan represented the tenant in Powell v Dacorum BC; this is the leading case on compliance with the public sector equality duty in possession cases.

Five Paper has 'a good spread across senior and junior levels' in the social housing arena. One referee commented that it is 'second to none in terms of its knowledge and experience of the sector'. Also notable is that 'the clerks are very personable and diligent; led well by David Portch'. The set is noted for its strengths in acting for landlords, local authorities and social housing organisations. It has featured in many high-profile and landmark cases; in one example, Nicholas Grundy QC was the lead counsel to the London Borough of Brent in Alibkhiet v LB Brent, where the Court of Appeal held there was no obligation to tell applicants of available housing closer to Brent, and that the local authority's allocation policy and procurement of accommodation were lawful. Another instruction saw Grundy QC serve as the lead counsel for the local authority in XPQ v The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham; this case addressed the housing duties of local authorities to human trafficking victims. Tina Conlan represented the local authority at the Court of Appeal in Kannan v LB Newham, which involved a homelessness statutory appeal on the suitability of accommodation.

Garden Court Chambers has, according to one client, 'a huge cadre of talented barristers, and the clerks will bend over backward to ensure you have excellent cover, if necessary'; housing practice manager Tim Hempstead is 'very good at ensuring that you get a response'. The set has had significant involvement in the Grenfell Tower inquiry, with it representing circa 280 bereaved individuals, survivors and residents (BSR) core participants. As part of the ‘G4’ team, the work entails detailed scrutiny of the actions of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Tenant Management Organisation, police and fire brigade. Members are also representing former tenants in disputes involving various issues, particularly rehousing allocation. Elsewhere, the set excels in all types of general housing disputes, and is also outstanding in more specialised cases (such as public law homelessness appeals and accommodation-related community care judicial review claims). Illustrative of its excellent record in cases of the utmost significance, Tim Baldwin represented the defendant at the Court of Appeal in LB Hackney v Yavuz Yildiz; this case concerns succession to a secure tenancy and the interplay between Ground 15A of Schedule Two of the Housing Act 1985 and Section 83. In another matter before the Court of Appeal, Edward Fitzpatrick and Justine Compton acted for the defendant in Paragon Asra Housing Limited v James Neville, a test case on disability discrimination and the extent to which the Equality Act 2010 can be raised at the eviction stage of a possession claim where there was a previous suspended possession order.

Field Court Chambers has significantly strengthened its social housing offering by adding three barristers to its bench of advocates; Alexander Campbell, Clare Cullen and Sarah McKeown joined from the now dissolved Arden Chambers in 2018. According to one source, chambers are 'willing provide some advice on the way forward with matters, even if they have not yet been instructed', which is well received by clients. Sarah Salmon represented the London Borough of Wandsworth in its successful possession claim, which had been defended by the defendants on the basis that the doctrine of survivorship was incompatible with Article 8 ECHR. Elsewhere, practitioners have handled cases involving challenges connected with the allocation of accommodation, homelessness appeals, disrepair cases, and service charges, among various other matters.

Hardwicke has 'tremendous depth in the social housing sphere' and is 'always able to find someone to deal with a matter'. Chambers has a strong track record acting for local authorities, housing associations and tenants across the entire spectrum of issues. The trend for a number of housing associations to consolidate into 'super housing associations' has led to the set becoming a first port of call for a number of those large entities. In one case highlight, Morayo Fagborun Bennett (who recently completed a secondment with the Peabody Trust) acted for A2 Dominion in a possession claim arising from the tenant's rent arrears, and also her failure to occupy the premises as her only or principal home. In a notably high-value matter, Laura Tweedy is defending Family Mosaic against a circa £14m damages claim brought by a tenant.

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