The local government prong of this section primarily focusses on issues of governance, powers, and standards in public life – at their most extreme, matters involving proposed mergers of local authorities. This section also includes rating law – the calculation of a property’s value for the purpose of business rates, a vital source of income for local authorities – for both HMRC and ratepayers. Work concerning the provision of services by local authorities such as social housing, education, Court of Protection and community care, and planning law, are covered in their own sections and this table does not seek to duplicate them. Likewise, many counsel ranked in other sections advise local authorities on matters within their areas of expertise.
Local government (including rating law) in London Bar
11KBW ‘remains the blue chip, go-to public law set for local authorities‘. Joanne Clement, unled, appeared for the Secretary of State for Education in In the matter of T(A Child) before the Supreme Court, in a test case concerning issues of shortages of places in secure accommodation. Elsewhere, Jonathan Auburn QC successfully defended the London Borough of Hackney in a challenge to special needs funding plans, while Andrew Sharland QC and Jonathan Moffett QC acted for Lambeth Council in a challenge to whether compensation must be paid by the local authority when school land is transferred from an Academy Trust to the local authority.
‘The ‘go to’ set for all public law issues.’
’11 KBW remain the blue chip go to public law set for local authorities.’
’11 KBW offers the public sector considerable expertise in a range of public law issues.’
‘The clerks are helpful , responsive , informed and timely in their response to enquiries.’
Noted for its ‘excellent strength in depth in most, if not all, areas of local government and public sector law‘, Cornerstone Barristers is a prominent set in social housing, community care, planning, licensing, electoral law and environmental law matters. Matthew Feldman joined from 42 Bedford Row, bringing expertise in business rates, housing and judicial review law. Ranjit Bhose QC represented Hertsmere BC in a Court of Appeal decision concerning the circumstances in which local authorities may retrospectively ratify previous unlawful decisions. Matt Hutchings QC continues to act for LB Camden in The West End Project (a transport scheme in Bloomsbury, the headline aspect of which is to ban motor cars from Tottenham Court Road), in a statutory challenge brought by United Trade Action Group and Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association.
‘They are always our first choice for both quality and value for money.’
‘I have always found Cornerstone to be a very good, intellectually sharp set of chambers. You feel there is a good level of knowledge and expertise available at chambers.’
‘The clerks are all very good and easy to deal with. Sam Collins is always helpful and engaging.’
‘All the clerks are competent and helpful.’
‘Always friendly and accommodating – the Clerks do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it.’
Landmark Chambers ‘is pre-eminent in the field‘. Members have expertise in all local government functions, and the set houses ‘most of the active rating law specialists‘. Leon Glenister is defending West Hampshire CCG in a High Court judicial review brought by Surrey County Council, challenging the CCG’s decision whether two individuals are entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare – an important case concerning the divide between financial responsibilities for a local authority and the NHS. Ratings specialist David Forsdick QC acted for Exeter City Council in a test case on the rating of local authority buildings, which raised multiple significant questions on the issue of application of rating principles in circumstances not being used for commercial purposes (in this case, a museum).
‘The strongest set in non-domestic rating matters, offering a range of excellent leaders.’
‘The quality of barristers at all levels is extremely high.’
‘Premier set in CPO/DCO/Planning/Highways sector. Good clerks. Responsive. Excellent choice of counsel and availability always guaranteed.’
‘The clerks are good and easy to deal with. Ben Connor is particularly helpful.’
‘Good experience of all of the clerks – always responsive and helpful. Bill King and Ben Connor particularly noteworthy – when I contact them, they always remember you and go that extra mile to assist.’
4-5 Gray’s Inn Square is ‘reliable and always well prepared in the areas of housing, public law and administrative law ‘. The set is increasingly active in cases concerning financial, modern slavery, mental health, housing, planning and public space protection matters. Recent work for the team includes the ‘clear and concise advocate‘ Jonathan Manning obtaining an injunction for Birmingham City Council for the purpose of banning the much-publicised protests outside Anderton Park School by parents opposed to the school’s sex and relationships education lessons.
‘4-5 are specialists in housing law and are able to offer counsel with varying degrees of specialism so that there is always someone available to assist.’
‘Very strong set overall. Reliable and always well prepared in the areas of housing, public law and administrative law.’
‘The clerks are very friendly and professional, will respond to queries within very short timescales and will always try and accommodate with regards to finding suitable counsel for the task in hand.’
‘The clerks are very helpful and happy to try to help to provide counsel at short notice.’
Viewed as an ‘academically strong and thorough‘ set, Francis Taylor Building is noted for being ‘very strong on CPO, infrastructure, and compensation cases.’ The team is highly regarded for its expertise in rating matters, and handles instructions relating to local government finances, council tax, licensing and compulsory purchase orders and compensation. Cain Ormondroyd specialises in ratings and council tax issues; he appeared for the London Borough of Merton in a case regarding the application of charitable relief from rating concerning a gymnasium bought by Nuffield Health, a registered charity which operates hospitals and health clubs, which also served as a test case for application of ‘public benefit’ requirement in this context. Elsewhere in chambers, Hugh Flanagan advised a provider of serviced offices in Central London on the correct business rates treatment of the building, in the context of a potential dispute with the Valuation Officer.
‘FTB is an excellent set for planning, environment and local government, and is developing stronger expertise in broader public law work. There are very good barristers at all levels in chambers.’
‘The set as a whole has extremely knowledgeable and hard working barristers with a wealth of experience and offers a good range of barristers within different price ranges.’