Edwards Duthie Shamash > London, England > Firm Profile

Edwards Duthie Shamash
E15 4BQ

Public sector > Electoral Tier 1

Edwards Duthie Shamash's broad practice covers all matters pertaining to electoral law, including high-stakes and highly sensitive litigation. The team 'has an encyclopaedic knowledge' of matters such as local government law, judicial reviews, advice to shadow ministers, reputation management, and public inquiries. The firm is a longstanding adviser to the Labour party and acts for a number of key party figures. Senior partner Gerald Shamash's extensive experience mean he is viewed by clients as 'unrivalled' in the market. Other key names in the team include Frances Randle , who acts as the Labour Party’s local government solicitor and is experienced in all areas of administrative, local government, and planning law, and  Kevin Bonavia , whose experience includes acting for clients in matters in the High Court.

Practice head(s):

Gerald Shamash; Frances Randle

Other key lawyers:


The team has an encyclopaedic knowledge of electoral law and practice and capacity for lateral thinking and giving realistic and robust advice.’

Gerald Shamash is No 1 in this field and is unrivalled.’

Crime, fraud and licensing > Crime: general Tier 3

Edwards Duthie Shamash is praised as 'a first-rate London criminal law firm', which acts for the Labour Party in a range of investigations and prosecutions. The team also counts the National Education Union (NEU) on its client roster, representing teachers involved in a variety of offences. Shaun Murphy in Ilford and Rakesh Bhasin and Robert Dynowski in the firm's Waterloo office jointly lead the department, which also includes Shabaz Ahmed, who has recently focused his practice on murder cases.

Practice head(s):

Shaun Murphy; Rakesh Bhasin; Robert Dynowski

Other key lawyers:


‘A first rate London criminal law firm which, unusually nowadays, is multi-disciplinary. Very good resources and expertise among a broad spectrum from the magistrates courts to serious crime to breaches of parliamentary/electoral law.’

‘Rakesh Bhasin (partner) is a first rate lawyer. He works diligently on all his cases whether as a litigator or an advocate. His client care has been exemplary. A stand out solicitor.’

‘They are very well established and respected firm particularly for “heavyweight” crime.’

‘Rakesh Bhasin – is enormously experienced, has great judgement and is very highly thought of.’

‘A strong team of lawyers, who conduct their work to a very high standard. In very difficult times for criminal lawyers who practice within the legally aided market place, Edwards Duthie Shamash continue to represent clients at all levels of criminal cases with the upmost professionalism. One of their major strengths is the quality of the solicitors employ, who all have good reputations within their peer group and the market place in general.’

‘Rakesh Bhasin, is one of the best and most versatile criminal solicitors I know, whose ability with both client care and case management is first class.’

‘Robert Dynowski is the key criminal partner. Bob has a huge amount of experience and understands the issues in cases very quickly. He is very impressive.’

‘Bob Dynowski – partner in firm. Good judgment, very hard working, tireless for the cause. An exceptional “old style” solicitor.’

Key clients

The Labour Party

The National Education Union (NEU)

Private client > Court of protection Tier 3

The team at Edwards Duthie Shamash continues to be regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor to represent protected parties in complex health and welfare proceedings before the Court of Protection and the High Court. It also acts for family members and paid Relevant Persons Representatives and other advocacy organisations. Both Melissa Law and Laura Dawson are able to represent clients in cases in which the Court of Protection appoints them as the client’s Accredited Legal Representative. 

Practice head(s):

Melissa Law

Other key lawyers:

Laura Dawson; Colette Ward


Edwards Duthie Shamash has an extremely talented Court of Protection Team and Community Care Team. The lawyers go above and beyond for the clients, many, if not all, of whom are extremely vulnerable individuals. The Court of Protection Team is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor to act in highly complex and sensitive health and welfare issues. The lawyers are tremendously good at keeping clients informed about the progress of their case, explaining complex litigation to clients in a manner they can understand. They are empathetic, diligent and work hard to achieve the best results they can for their clients‘.

Melissa Law is a highly capable Court of Protection practitioner. She has amassed a wealth of experience in a relatively short space of time, working on some incredibly complex health and welfare cases with apparent ease. She is hardworking, intelligent, insightful and calm under pressure. It is always a pleasure to work with Melissa, however challenging the facts of a particular case may be‘.

The quality of the legal service provided is outstanding. The cases are well prepared and the service given to the clients; exceptional. Laura Dawson- intelligent, sharp and insightful. Highly committed to her clients and always ready to fight their corner, but still measured and sensible. A very good knowledge of substantive law in the area. Melissa Law – outstanding, simply one of the brightest and most hardworking young solicitors around. Her meticulous case preparation has already attracted plaudits from the judiciary. Mature and sensitive in her approach towards clients, she is a real pleasure to work with‘.

Edwards Duthie Shamash is trusted by the Official Solicitor’s team to take on the unusual and complex cases that other firms may not be comfortable with. The instructions I have received from members of this team are always well thought out and helpful. I also get the sense that they are eager to learn and I often find myself discussing conceptual advancements in the law with solicitors from this firm. They are at the cutting edge. I have worked with Colette Ward and Laura Dawson in this team. Both individuals were a calm, safe pair of hands. They were able to steer the case behind the scenes with complete confidence and lined up the evidence perfectly so that, as counsel, all that I had to do was present their work‘.

Laura Dawson is particularly skilled at strategy and I have seen how confident she is at navigating complicated cases. She is also extremely calm and judges know her to be a safe pair of hands‘.

It has a good person centred approach to some challenging cases with clients that lack capacity to make certain decisions. I have worked with Colette Ward & Laura Dawson both have been efficient in the work they do‘.

Well known as an efficient and knowledgeable team. I have been particularly impressed by Melissa Law and the exceptional work she did acting for a very vulnerable woman whose parents (while very loving) would not let her be seen by mental health professionals.  As a result of Melissa’s patient engagement with the parents they have started talking to the care team.  If they accept help for their daughter her quality of life will improve and she is far more likely to be able to live at home successfully‘.

I have worked on many occasions over many years with Laura Dawson who has a first-rate knowledge of the law, and a keen analytical eye on factual details, and finding solutions for her clients.  She is always a pleasure to work with‘.

Key clients

Official Solicitor

Dorset Advocacy Group

Family members and individuals referred to us by local authorities and other law firms or who have contacted the firm directly having heard of its reputation through word of mouth

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the Official Solicitor to represent LW in the case of LW [2020] EWCOP 50 in which the judgment handed down by Hayden J explored and provided guidance on patterns of behaviour that may amount to controlling and coercive behaviour and the steps that local authorities, commissioners, providers and safeguarding teams caring for incapacitous adults can take to cease abusive contact.
  • Instructed by the Official Solicitor to represent AEL in a matter which resulted in a reported judgment, AEL, Re (Mental Capacity Act 2005) [2021] EWCOP 9 considering the complex issue of deprivation of liberty in a private family home.
  • Currently instructed by the Official Solicitor in respect of a Section 21A matter where P, a 54 year old woman, has a diagnosis of early onset dementia

Real estate > Social housing: tenant Tier 4

Edwards Duthie Shamash advises on the full range of social housing matters, including possession proceedings, disrepair claims and unlawful evictions. The team, which is led by James Harrison, has particular expertise in homelessness and allocation cases, with additional experience of property guardian possession disputes. Simon Mullings, who is a co-head of the Housing Law Practitioners Association, has particular experience of possession proceedings and rent repayment orders.

Practice head(s):

James Harrison

Other key lawyers:

Simon Mullings; Nahar Islam; Olukemi Ajayi


‘Edwards Duthie Shamash are one of the best and most competent firms representing tenants. They have a duty advice contract, as a result of which they always have their finger on the pulse. They are strategic and sharp with a keen sense of where to push and where to concede.’

‘Simon Mullings is the joint Chair of HLPA. He is extremely knowledgable not only on his cases, but on the political and legislative framework more widely. He is certainly a ‘star’ individual.’

‘The firm is dedicated to tenant work and the housing team goes above and beyond for their clients. They have a deep knowledge base in social housing and progress cases well on the strength of this knowledge and experience.’

‘Simon Mullings – huge expertise in all things housing. Very accomplished in both the law and procedure particularly in relation to legal aid funding. Nahar Islam – very good on homelessness cases, identifies issues early and makes robust submissions on behalf of her clients.’

‘The team’s commitment to delivering high quality legal services in the social housing sector stands out.’

‘In recent years, I have most experience working with Olukemi Ajayi and of observing her at work. She is extremely calm and effective at the same time, with great communication skills. Simon Mullings combines being a very effective litigator with instant rapport with clients as well as leading the sector in his policy work. James Harrison’s great depth of expertise shows through in cutting through complicated cases to the core issues.’

‘James Harrison is head of the team and has a strong track record of providing excellent advice and assistance to clients and also appearing in some key housing cases. Simon Mullings operates not only the duty scheme in various county courts but has also been instrumental in housing law in the England and Wales through his campaigning work as chair of HLPA especially in respect of key litigation in the Court of Appeal on the lawfulness of the stay under Covid 19. Olukemi Ajayi is an extremely diligent and able solicitor who works tirelessly for homeless clients.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a number of individuals who have suffered loss as a consequence of a fire at the Barking Riverside development in June 2019. The fire started on a timber clad balcony and spread quickly to the neighbouring flats.
  • Acted for a client [Nikolaeva v LB Redbridge (2020) EWCA Civ 1586] in an important appeal concerning what constitutes a lawful final offer of accommodation under section 193 Housing Act 1996. The Court of Appeal held that the offer has to be of accommodation that is available.
  • Acted for a vulnerable client in successfully challenging a decision by the local authority that the relief duty had been terminated and thereby secured the provision of accommodation for the client. Case of interest because there have been very few reported challenges to the relief duty (as introduced by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017). In this case the Local Authority had contended that the duty had been complied with but upon disclosure of the homelessness file it became clear that no steps had been taken to fulfil the duty since the client became homeless as the Personalised Housing Plan that had been prepared was focused on the steps to be taken to prevent homelessness.

Edwards Duthie Shamash Solicitors are based in East London and Waterloo, with a unique mix of corporate, trade union, private client and publicly funded work.

Following the successful merger of Edwards Duthie and Steel & Shamash in June 2019 we now operate from seven offices.  With 14 Partners and just over 140 staff we are one of the largest London and Essex law firms.

Our services include: crime, commercial property, employment and dispute resolution, family, mediation, housing and social welfare, personal injury, medical negligence, wills and probate, court of protection, media law, parliamentary and electoral law, local government law and more.

Edwards Duthie Shamash Solicitors have a proven track record of success with a long list of happy clients benefiting from a successful outcome. The size of our firm and the resources available, have enabled us to build and develop a level of support for our clients that enable us to handle large volumes of work to exceptionally high quality standards. We pride ourselves on the care we take in maintaining our principles of client care and service that have enabled us to retain many clients year on year and help build our business.

Commercial property: We advise investors looking to protect the value of their assets, or who require assistance in understanding the liabilities in a commercial lease. We advise developers as to the legal difficulties of an exciting new development opportunity (and how to overcome them).  In each case expert advice and assistance is essential before committing to any property deal. We pride ourselves on developing close working relationships with our clients and getting to understand their needs.

Court of Protection: The Court of Protection can make decisions about the health and welfare, and the property and financial affairs of adults who lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Our specialist team provides advice, assistance and representation to vulnerable adults who may lack capacity to make certain decisions. The team normally acts through a litigation friend, such as the Official Solicitor, an advocate or a Relevant Person’s Representative. We also represent family members, carers and other people interested in a vulnerable adult’s welfare.

Criminal: We have a specialist team of criminal lawyers that provides a complete range of legal services to those accused of crimes.  We represent individuals and businesses who are under investigation, or are being prosecuted in the courts. We do so on a private or legal aid basis. This includes representation at interview under caution, in the Magistrates and Youth court, in the Crown court. and when necessary in the Court of Appeal (and the Supreme court). We have been involved in a number of significant and high profile cases, and bring that experience to bear on every case we are instructed in.

Electoral law: This is an exceptionally specialised area of law, and we have a fine reputation in all aspects of election law (local and parliamentary and incorporating European, Scottish and Welsh elections), Parliamentary boundary inquiries, Judicial review (Public Law), Local government law, Standards Board and Adjudication Tribunals for Councillors, and Parliamentary rules relating to the conduct of Members of Parliament. Gerald Shamash has been a member of the Labour Party since 1970, and has been solicitor to the Labour Party for over 20 years. He has been closely involved with legislative reform of electoral law.

Employment: Our employment specialists advise both employers and employees providing a complete service from the drafting of contract documentation, policies and handbooks for employers, to advising employees on issues ranging from redundancy and discrimination to settlement agreements and contractual disputes

Housing and social welfare: Edwards Duthie Shamash has a team of experienced and committed solicitors specialising in all areas of social welfare law. This includes problems with housing, community care and mental health.  Our dedicated team  work to the highest standards to assist clients to get the help and support that they need. We have a long-standing commitment to assisting the local community with all social welfare problems.

Local government law: Edwards Duthie Shamash have acted for the Labour Party since 1990. The Labour Party has a service for its’ councillors providing legal advice. All members of the Association of Labour Councillors are entitled to contact the local government lawyer and will receive a response to each separate query raised.  The scheme is funded through a levy to the Association of Labour Councillors. Members may be able to receive further advice and/or representation, depending upon the case.

Media law: We have a strong reputation in all aspects of media law. This is a specialised area in which we have considerable experience, covering issues such as reputation management, misuse of information, privacy (including phone hacking) and defamation – including libel and slander.  We have been at the forefront of the allegations of phone hacking against News International and Mirror Group Newspapers, and have successfully represented a number of claimants.

Criminal Defence and Family Shaun MurphyShaun.Murphy@edslaw.co.uk02085149040
Criminal Defence Robert DynowskiBob.Dynowski@edslaw.co.uk02078033963
Criminal Defence Rakesh BhasinRakesh.Bhasin@edslaw.co.uk02078033905
Criminal Defence Shabaz AhmedShabaz.Ahmed@edslaw.co.uk02084757426
Criminal Defence Simon MaySimon.May@edslaw.co.uk02085149087
Commercial and Residential Property Hilary GreenHilary.Green@edslaw.co.uk02085149039
Parliamentary & Electoral Law and Media Law Gerald ShamashGerald.Shamash@edslaw.co.uk02078033901
Dispute Resolution and Personal Injury Bradley WrightBradley.Wright@edslaw.co.uk02085149035
Dispute Resolution and Personal Injury Kavita RanaKavita.Rana@edslaw.co.uk02085149017
Employment Colin DavidsonColin.Davidson@edslaw.co.uk02078033914
Housing and Social Welfare James HarrisonJames.Harrison@edslaw.co.uk02084757453
Wills and Probate Anna OrpwoodAnna.Orpwood@edslaw.co.uk02084757431
Family Rajinder GarveyRajinder.Garvey@edslaw.co.uk02085149064
Family Gavin BlackmanGavin.Blackman@edslaw.co.uk02085149062
Family Anna PontingAnna.Ponting@edslaw.co.uk02078033918
Local Government Law Frances RandleFrances.Randle@edslaw.co.uk02078033919
Court of Protection Melissa LawMelissa.Law@edslaw.co.uk02078033967