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Karen May

Work 020 8800 6464
John Ford Solicitors


Karen May has over 18 years’ experience in education law and community care. Qualifying in 1997, Karen worked for a local authority before joining John Ford Solicitors in 1999 where she became particularly involved with children’s rights. Representing individuals, local authorities and schools, Karen specialises in judicial review cases, particularly concerning Community Care and Education Law. She has acted in many leading Education Law Judicial Review cases in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, concerning vulnerable children. Karen also provides advice and legal representation for many Court of Protection clients, obtaining positive results for the most vulnerable. Areas of specialism: Education law, community care, public and administrative law, court of protection, discrimination. Important cases: The Governing Body of C Girls’ Academy (2015) Judicial review proceedings were issued when the Academy unlawfully sought to compel the complainant to complete the last two years of her education at a PRU type placement. Proceedings were settled with the Academy agreeing for the claimant to go back to resume her education in the usual way on the school site; R (on the application of JE) v Sheffield County Council 2014. Public Law -Judicial Review concerning an overlap between special educational needs and community care law. The claimant was extremely vulnerable having autism, ADHD and ODD as well as an attachment disorder. The case focused upon the failures in relation to the Statement of Special Educational Needs and the failures to produce a lawful care plan under section 17 of the Children act 1989.Excellent provision was secured for the claimant at a specialist independent school as well as respite arrangements and a costs order in the claimant’s favour; R (on the application of JF) v LB Hackney 2014 Court of Protection proceedings. This was a very complex case with a background of judicial review proceedings to obtain community care services where the President became concerned about the lack of progress; G v West Herts College 2014. This case involved disability discrimination against a young man with Downs Syndrome. Proceedings were issued and sensitive negotiations led to a settlement for damages; R (DD) v Independent Appeal Panel of the L.B. Islington (2013) ELR 483. (Admissions Infant Class Sizes). This case concerns the approach panels need to take where ‘future infant class size prejudice’ is put forward by the admissions authority; R (on the application of JF)-v-L B Hackney [2010] EWHC 3130 (Inadequacy of care plan) JF suffers from severe autism and the case concerned the legal requirements for a lawful care plan. The care plan was inadequate and lacked the degree of specificity required by case law.


Trained Hertfordshire County Council; qualified 1997; responsible for advising Hertfordshire LEA and schools 1996; associate solicitor John Ford Solicitors 1999.


Education Law Association.

London: Public sector

Administrative and public law

Within: Administrative and public law

John Ford Solicitors is ‘dedicated to doing the best they can’ for private and legal aid clients. ‘Extremely enthusiastic and determined’ associate Helen Gill receives praise for her client care and ‘impressive knowledge of the law’ in disputes with the state and public bodies, and recently acted for an individual in a judicial review against the London Borough of Havering concerning its failure to take an equality impact assessment into account for council tax. The ‘very experienced’ associate Karen May heads the education team and is adept in community care work with associate Marian Shaughnessy, who is ‘unflustered, knowledgeable, thoughtful and tenacious’. Recent mandates included disputes with local authorities relating to community care assessments and accommodation.

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Education: individuals

Within: Education: individuals

John Ford Solicitors’ ‘confident, convincing and passionate’ team stands out for its ‘attention to detail’, has ‘a deep understanding of the intricacies of the regulatory framework’ and ‘focuses on the goal to win’. Its caseload includes challenges to the decisions of local authorities and schools through judicial review proceedings and cases pertaining to local authorities’ nonconformity with statements of SEN in the SEND tribunal. Practice head Karen May specialises in education matters involving community care and child protection law. Marian Shaughnessy acts for parents in judicial reviews of local authorities’ decisions and represents clients in pursuing disability discrimination claims. Name partner John Ford and Helen Gill, who is an expert in actions against public bodies, are also noted.

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