18 St John Street Chambers' Oliver Caplan holds particular expertise in matters of social housing. Recent instructions of note include successfully representing a number of tenants against providers of local authority housing that sought possession of the defendants' properties upon allegations of serious anti-social behaviour, including gang-related violence.
Social housing in Regional Bar
With 'detailed knowledge of housing and social welfare law' Doughty Street Chambers' John Hobson 'quickly grasps the relevant issues from instructions and provides expert opinion quickly. Undertakes legal aid work. Is committed to clients and can explain complex issues/legal points in a clear and easily understood manner'. Hobson has a strong record in disrepair, unlawful eviction, and possession proceedings involving anti-social behaviour and the Equality Act 2010.
Garden Court North Chambers
Garden Court North Chambers is a strong set for tenant-focused social housing work. It has 'strength in depth, a number of well-regarded barristers and a high-quality training programme for the sector/profession'. 'There are some very strong lawyers in this set, easily on a par with London chambers'. James Stark has 'encyclopaedic knowledge of housing law; tenacious and not afraid of taking difficult points; a deep commitment to defending rights of tenants and the disadvantaged'. In the Supreme Court case of Samuels v Birmingham City Council, he was successful in a homelessness appeal under section 204 of the Housing Act 1996 determining that accommodation is not affordable and reasonable to continue to occupy even if it requires an individual and their family to live below subsistence benefits levels indefinitely. 'A polished advocate', Joseph Markus is 'forensic in case analysis, excellent on his feet, and very persuasive. He is very calm in manner, which is reassuring to the clients he serves'. Recent work of note includes acting for tenants in accelerated possession proceedings due to anti-social behaviour often with vulnerable clients. Former solicitor Gary Willock is praised for his 'excellent knowledge of the sector, always being well prepared, and is a well-regarded advocate'. Recent work includes representing defendants lacking the mental capacity to conduct proceedings or where disability discrimination issues arise. Rising star Elizabeth Mottershaw is 'particularly strong with cases involving the interplay between the Equality Act 2010 and housing law'.
Exchange Chambers is 'a slick operation with very helpful and organised clerks'. Instructing solicitors and clients praise the set's 'great training opportunities – in particular the Social Housing & Local Government Seminar'. 'A free event it is absolutely invaluable to busy practitioners and unlike other training events completely focused on the issues relevant to local government.' The 'simply outstanding' Paul Burns has 'extensive knowledge and experience in ASB social housing cases'. Recent work of note has involved advising local authorities on strategies to manage rent arrears and possession claims, the development of private sector leasing schemes, and litigation risks. Also of note, Brynmor Adams successfully represented a local authority in a complicated housing-fraud claim against a secure tenant who had ceased to reside in the subject property as their principal home. Adams also successfully represented a different local authority in its claim for possession on anti-social behaviour grounds, namely that the defendant racially abused and harassed a neighbour.