Dominic Preston

d.preston@doughtystreet.co.uk

Year of Call

1995
Dominic Preston
Profile

Dominic Preston is a public law lawyer specialising in housing, community care and Court of Protection work.  His housing practice is centred on homelessness, allocations and disputes concerning residential premises, whether rented or leasehold and it necessarily strays into immigration law, community care and child care law, EU law, discrimination law, and human rights law.  His Court of Protection work specialises in the cross-over between mental capacity and housing, with a particular expertise in hoarder cases and the related deprivation of liberty issues that arise.  His community care work centres on obtaining accommodation and assistance under the Care Act 2014.  He appears regularly in the lower courts, the High Court and the appellate courts.

 

Dominic is recognised as a leading junior in social housing by Chambers and Partners which recommends him as "a fearless fighter, not afraid of tackling a contentious case." "He is a straight opponent, capable of being robust in the interest of the vulnerable client"(2015), "always accessible, appropriate and effective" (2014), "thorough, thoughtful and reliable,"  a "really good opponent to have" (2013), known “for his technical ability and excellent judgment, as well as his straightforward and easy manner” (2012) and “… his sharp mind and impressive workload were both highlighted by peers ...” (2011).  He is also listed in Legal 500

 

Dominic’s commitment to the need to secure housing for the most vulnerable is reflected in his practice and he has been on the executive of the Housing Law Practitioner’s Association since 2004.  He is the deputy team leader of Doughty Street’s Housing and Social Welfare Team.

 

Publications

As well as regularly speaking on housing, community care and mental health law topics, Dominic has a strong commitment to writing on housing issues.  Since 2002 he has co-written the Housing title of Atkins Court Forms, most recently updated in 2014 and he wrote the Harassment and Anti-Social Behaviour title in the same volume.  Between 2005 and 2007 he co-wrote the quarterly Housing Law Update for the Solicitors Journal and he has written for a number of other legal journals.  Dominic has also appeared on Radio 4’s Money Box Live.

Housing and Social Welfare

Dominic’s housing practice covers homelessness, allocations, right to buy, anti-social behaviour, disrepair, unlawful eviction and possession matters.  In that context he necessarily strays into immigration, discrimination, human rights, public law, and community and child care law.  As well as his involvement in the Housing Law Practitioner Association, he also writes and lectures on those topics.  Significant cases include:

  • Ajilore v Hackney LBC [2014] HLR 46 CA.  A challenge to the priority need test being erroneously applied by local authorities and to the use of statistics in such cases (transcript).
  • Farah v Hillingdon LBC [2014] HLR 24 CA.  Homelessness; intentionality; finding by local authority that accommodation was affordable quashed for failure to give adequate reasons in the face of the explanations given by the applicant (transcript)
  • Hanoman v Southwark LBC (No. 2) [2009] UKHL 29; [2009] 1 WLR 1367.  Tenant in receipt of housing benefit exercising right to buy; tenant serving operative notice of delay on council and claiming price reduction; Whether housing benefit ‘payment of rent’ for purpose of reducing price as a consequence of landlord’s delay (transcript).  In the court of appeal ([2008] EWCA Civ 624 CA; [2009] 1 WLR 374; [2009]) the case also considered the jurisdiction of court to intervene and the creation of collateral contracts (transcript).
  • Ahmed v Leicester CC [2008] HLR 6 CA.  Homelessness; discharge of duty; whether it was reasonable to accept accommodation that was refused (HA 1996, s. 193(7F)); test to be applied when assessing reasonableness of applicant’s decision to refuse (transcript).
  • Desnousse v Newham LBC & others [2006] QB 831; [2006] HLR 38 CA.  Eviction of homeless applicants from temporary accommodation provided by private landlord; application of Protection from Eviction Act, s. 3(2B) and meaning of ‘occupied as a dwelling’; whether court proceedings were required to evict such applicants; whether evictions in absence of proceedings breach of Articles 6 or 8 of European Convention on Human Rights (transcript).
  • O’Connor v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC [2004] HLR 37 CA.  Intentionality; good faith defence; definition of ignorance of a relevant fact; obligations of reviewing officer to consider good faith defence (transcript).
  • Southwark v Sarfo [1999] 32 HLR 602 CA.  Eviction; set aside of warrant on ground of oppression; discretion whether to set aside warrant.

Administrative and Public Law

In the Housing or Community Care context, Dominic is available for emergency judicial review applications for interim relief, whether to the duty judge or for drafting papers for urgent consideration.  Dominic’s emergency work includes cases brought under section 188(1) and (3) of the Housing Act 1996, Sections 17 and 20 of the Children Act 1989 and Section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.  Dominic’s practice also includes allocation cases under Part VI of the Housing Act 1996 and an expansion of public law work in the county court as a consequence of an increase in Winder/Pinnock defences.

Equality and Discrimination

Housing law has and is being profoundly influenced by developments in discrimination law, particularly disability discrimination in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and through the prism of the Public Sector Equality Duty (section 149 of the EA 2010).  The interplay with Articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR and the concept of proportionality have also come to the fore.  Dominic’s recent cases in this field include:

  • A challenge to the 2006 Eligibility Regulations on the ground that they discriminate in breach of Article 14 against those from abroad who given leave to remain in the UK by reason of Article 8 factors.  Many of those applicants are given permission to have access to public funds despite which they are excluded from applying for housing assistance. The case is ongoing.
  • An alcoholic with underlying depression who, although subject to a possession order caused by anti-social behaviour, had the order stayed until such time as suitable alternative accommodation was available.  The authority, being unable to find such alternative accommodation, conceded that he was entitled to remain notwithstanding the possession order.
  • A schizophrenic who conceded that he could no longer live in sheltered accommodation because of the harassment he had caused his neighbours, but in respect of whom the court required a managed transfer to alternative accommodation, failing which no eviction would be allowed.  The client was rehoused in self-contained accommodation with a support package and a care plan in place.
  • A tenant with difficult social problems but who was the sole carer of her disabled father.  Her anti-social behaviour was limited and in the context of the father’s dependence on his daughter, the local authority conceded that possession was disproportionate in the circumstances.

Mental Health and Court of Protection

Dominic principally acts on behalf of the Official Solicitor and local authorities in cases involving capacity, residence, deprivation of liberty and Article 5 issues.  His main area of interest is the overlap between the Court of Protection jurisdiction and housing law, arising most often in the context of hoarder cases.  His expertise in Mental Capacity is particularly useful in his wider practice where he acts for (or is involved in cases with) vulnerable clients.

Land and Property

Dominic is well versed in residential property law and his practice in the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal includes service charge disputes and leasehold enfranchisement. He also deals with undue influence cases and disputes between former cohabitees under the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.  Dominic regularly lectures on these topics.

Mediation

Dominic trained in 2012 with the London School of Mediation.  As a member of the Doughty Street Mediation Team he accepts instructions to mediate or to represent any participants involved in a mediation.  Dominic is well known for his ability to look at problems objectively and creatively and has a particular expertise in mental health and housing/landlord and tenant work (including leasehold disputes) and public law related work (notably homelessness and allocation cases).  He is recommended by Chambers & Partners for his ‘technical ability and excellent judgment, as well as his straightforward and easy manner’ (2012) and for being ‘engaging, adaptable, appropriate and effective’ (Chambers & Partners, 2014). 

Although based in London, Dominic is happy to undertake work throughout the UK. 

Please click here to view full mediation profile.

Education

BA (Lond)

Dip Law (City)

 

Languages

Conversational French

 

Memberships

Housing Law Practitioner’s Association (Executive Member)

Administrative Law Bar Association

Liberty

Publications

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