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Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Duncan Lewis Solicitors, established in 1998, serves both corporate entities and private individuals from over 50 offices across England and Wales. Employing over 700 personnel, it was the first law firm in the UK to achieve the Investors in People Gold Accreditation Quality Standard Mark, and one of the first to achieve the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation in 1999, which it has retained.

Duncan Lewis acts in approximately 29,000 cases per year, in over 25 areas of law, throughout offices across London and nationwide. As the largest legal aid practitioner in the UK, 80% of the firm’s client base is publicly funded through legal aid, with 11 franchises in: Actions against Public Authorities, Childcare, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Crime, Family, Housing, Immigration, Mental Capacity/Court of Protection, Mental Health, Public Law and Welfare Benefits. Serving publicly/privately funded and corporate individuals, Duncan Lewis is committed to providing a reliable and practical legal service to ensure access to justice for all.

Duncan Lewis is committed to excellence in staff training and development, and it is permitted by the Law Society to offer close to 100 training contracts in any given training period. Duncan Lewis takes pride in its commitment to its diversity and inclusivity policy; currently 40% of the firm’s staff are from an ethnic minority and its workforce speak over 50 languages; ensuring, through recruitment and retention, its staff represent its clients’ demographic needs.

Types of work undertaken:

Immigration/ Asylum : As one of the UK’s leading firms of immigration specialists, Duncan Lewis are able to advise on business immigration and right to work in the UK, Tier-2 visa applications and appeals, student and graduate visas, spousal visas and visa overstays. The firm’s specialist business immigration solicitors will be able to advise businesses and individuals on any changes to UK immigration law during Brexit negotiations and after 29 March 2019, post-Brexit. The firm’s broad practice offers a full service to SME business clients on all aspects of the Points-Based System (PBS), sponsorship licence applications and immigration strategy/compliance advice. It also has a niche specialism in representing vulnerable clients/victims of torture or trafficking in immigration detention-related matters. The teams also have a high level of experience assisting with asylum applications, in-country asylum and appeals.

Public Law/ Civil Liberties & Human Rights: The firm’s Public Law department carries out both publicly and privately funded work, representing private individuals and corporate entities in immigration and asylum, regulatory fitness to practice, environment and planning and Court of Protection cases.  The department has a niche specialism in immigration claimant judicial review matters and costs litigation; unlawful immigration detention cases with high-net claims for damages; immigration removal cases; prison law claimant; and the provision of social welfare services. It is able to handle challenges against decisions made by a number of bodies, including, but not limited to, Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS); Criminal Case Review Commission; HM Prison Service and the Metropolitan Police.

Duncan Lewis have experience in all aspects of judicial review claimant work, including obtaining emergency orders and other interim relief to prevent breaches of human rights, following up judicial reviews with actions for damages in both the County and High Court and successfully pursuing judicial review matters to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Family and Childcare: Headed by 15 Director Solicitors, with over 40 Law Society Family and Childcare Panel specialists, the Duncan Lewis Family & Childcare department are specialists in all aspects of family and private/public children law matters. The team holds a niche practice in representing victims of domestic abuse, and is experienced in complex financial matrimonial matters (ancillary relief) relating to the breakdown of marriages/relationships. It also has an established Islamic and Sharia Law department which specialises in Islamic divorce, Islamic financial settlement and Mehr claims under English Law.

Children / Public Law Matters: Duncan Lewis’ Family & Child Care team has a broad practice representing parents/ guardians, family members and children through guardians in children public law proceedings. It conducts cases on behalf of the official solicitor and is appointed to represent babies and young children. The department holds a niche practice representing very vulnerable clients in matters involving parents with mental health issues; young children in care proceedings that involve severe non-accidental injuries; sexual, physical and emotional abuse, drug/alcohol misuse, neglect, factitious illness, rare illness and non-accidental injury. The team are also regularly appointed by guardians to represent children in culturally complex care cases given the team’s diverse ethnic workforce.

Children/cross-border disputes: Duncan Lewis conducts high-profile international child abduction cases and engages in wardship proceedings for the return of children taken out of the jurisdiction and cross-border care proceedings. It is one of only a small number of firms that are on the Lord Chancellor’s International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) referral list.  The ICACU is responsible for administering Hague Convention (Child Abduction) proceedings work in England. Further, Duncan Lewis' Islamic and Sharia Law Department specialises in children disputes, Islamic divorce, Islamic financial settlement and mehr claims under English Law.

Housing: The department has a niche expertise in possession, disrepair and unlawful eviction cases. It also has a significant presence in County Court Possession Duty Schemes throughout London, enabling them to specialise in defending social tenants in possession and unlawful eviction cases. Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors can guide clients in any matter or issues arising with local housing authorities, housing applications, tenants, landlords, ownership and repairs. The Housing Department also offers representation in all proceedings including reviews, appeals and judicial review proceedings relating to homelessness, disrepair, succession for tenants and neighbourhood disputes against local authorities.

General Crime/ Fraud/ White-Collar Crime: Duncan Lewis has a reputation for well-prepared, high quality work. The department’s case building excellence is based on a sound knowledge of the criminal justice system and the ability to assemble first-rate evidence and documentation, securing the services of the highest quality experts to ensure the best possible outcome for clients.

All solicitors in the firm’s crime department are police station representatives, meaning they can represent clients from the outset of a criminal investigation. In addition, the team is made up of a number of highly experienced Higher Court Advocates who have experience in providing advocacy in serious matter, including murder and rape. The department has a significant practice defending clients in serious and complex criminal cases, particularly gang-related serious crime, including murder and drug importations. The firm has a niche speciality in representing clients that have significant mental health problems in insanity defence cases. Additionally, Duncan Lewis has established practices in motor law, prison law and actions against public authorities, and are able to advise on appealing a conviction or sentence.

Dispute Resolution: Duncan Lewis has acknowledged expertise in advising corporate clients on litigation matters – as well as advising private individuals in cases where litigation might be an option. The Litigation and Dispute Resolution team provide clear and concise legal advice to resolve commercial disputes for both clients based in the UK, and international businesses. The team work with clients to create a goal focused vision, prepare strategies and successfully execute solutions to deal with a dispute either by ADR or Court Litigation, whilst minimising cost and risk.

The firm’s Solicitors regularly handle claims at the County Court, high-value claims at the High Court, the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal, and in specialist Tribunals and Investigations.

Clinical negligence:  The Duncan Lewis Clinical Negligence team has significant experience acting in a vast array of claims, varying from accident and emergency failures, GP negligence claims, misdiagnosis, to wrongful death claims. They also act for children and adults who have suffered profound and permanent brain, spinal or neurological injuries and associated disabilities as a consequence of failings in medical care in both NHS and private hospitals.

Personal injury: Duncan Lewis' personal injury practice has extensive experience representing clients who have sustained injuries as a result of accidents at work, road traffic accidents, asbestos illnesses, accidents suffered abroad, children’s accidents and many more. A particular focus of the practice is acting in claims on behalf of victims of fatal injuries. Other broad specialist areas include claims against local authorities for slips and trips in public spaces; road traffic accidents; occupier’s liability; asbestos illnesses; accidents suffered abroad and children’s accidents.

Notable Cases:

  • Supreme Court success in the immigration nationality case of Hysaj & Ors, R which significantly changed the case law on deprivation and nullity of British Citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981.
  • Acted in the 2017 immigration Court of Appeal matter of LC (Albania) which led to the Home Office to acknowledge that out of date country guidance evidence had been relied on in error by the Home Office and Courts for over 5 years to dismiss domestic violence, trafficking and sexual identity related asylum claims from Albania.
  • In July 2017, acted in a Libya country guidance case that successfully challenged removals to Libya, based on the lack of state protection for civilians. It became an authoritative precedent that anyone from Libya, regardless of the region they are to be returned to, would be at risk of return contrary to international and EU law.
  • Acted in a lead immigration judicial review challenge that led to the High Court ruling that the ‘Fast Track Procedure Rules’ used by the Home Office to consider asylum cases until 2014 were unlawful. The case has enabled more than 10,000 asylum seekers to potentially request to have their cases reconsidered.
  • Represented torture victims in an unlawful detention claim that successfully challenged the Home Office’s “Adults at risk in immigration detention policy”. Consequently, the High Court declared the Government’s immigration detention policy for torture victims to be unlawful as it wrongly allowed many who had been recognised as tortured overseas by ‘non state actors’ to still be detained. The Home Office was ordered to review its policy on incarcerated torture survivors and release those unlawfully detained as a result.
  • Acted in an immigration detention case where the Home Office was found to have acted unlawfully by locking up a Kenyan asylum seeker in segregation, in a so-called “punishment room” for too long. Despite several thousand people being placed in immigration detention segregation every year by the Home Office, this case was reported to be the first challenge regarding the use of segregation in immigration detention centres.
  • Advising two unions, the Locum Doctors Union (LDU) and Healthcare Professionals Union (HPU) in relation to allegations that NHS Improvement (NHSI) continues to instruct NHS Trusts, contrary to its own guidance, to apply a blanket determination that all locum doctors and nurses are inside IR35 so that National Insurance and Tax had to be deducted at source.
  • Represented the M, in a case concerning her four children. M, worked as a secretary for the X High Commission. The family entered the UK with diplomatic rights and privileges prior to M leaving that employment. There were two key issues in the case; the first concerned the court’s jurisdiction to make final care orders in respect of the children if those children continued to have diplomatic immunity. The second consisted of classic welfare issues in children public law proceedings which require threshold criteria to be satisfied. Following intensive legal work, the court further concluded it is in the best interests of the children to return to the care of M following a period of rehabilitation managed by the Local Authority.
  • Acted for the tenant in the 2016 landmark Court of Appeal social housing case of Cardiff County Council v Lee (Flowers). The case changed the law, confirming that all landlords, whether social or private, are required to seek the permission of the County Court in order to obtain a warrant of possession for breach of a suspended possession order with costs sanctions if not followed, providing an additional level of protection for tenants.
  • Represented the respondent in the 2015 Supreme Court case of Gohil v Gohil, a divorce financial settlement case which established the principles in relation to material non-disclosure and the basis upon which an agree financial consent order can be set aside and the case re-opened if a party has not provided full disclosure at the time of the original trial.
  • In 2016, represented the imprisoned convicted killer Joanna Dennehy in her claim for damages on account that her two year solitary confinement in prison breached her human rights.

Over 50 offices across England and Wales, with key offices including:

London: Barnet, Croydon, Hackney, Harrow, Islington, New Cross Gate, Shepherd’s Bush

Outside London: Birmingham, Bradford, Cardiff, Leicester, Luton, Milton Keynes and Swansea

 

 

  • Number of UK partners: 54
  • Number of other UK fee-earners: 637
  • Breakdown of work %
  • Judicial review public law claimant cases; Business immigration, Asylum and human rights: : 38%
  • Family matrimonial; Public/private children law; Children Cross-Border disputes: : 32%
  • Criminal defence; Fraud; Motor Law; Action against public authorities; prison law: : 12%
  • Social housing; Debt; Welfare benefits; Community care; Wills and probate: : 9%
  • Mental health; Court of Protection/ mental capacity: : 3%
  • Employment; Civil litigation; Dispute resolution; Professional negligence: : 3%
  • Clinical (medical) Negligence; Personal Injury: : 3%
  • *based on fees received: 

  • Languages
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  • Member
  • England & Wales Law Society
  • Law Society of England and Wales

Above material supplied by Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

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