Steve is a public lawyer whose practice has two main focal areas. Firstly, Steve has an extensive health, education and social care practice focusing on the rights of children (in particular disabled children) and disabled adults and others in need of services and support. Steve acts mainly for individual claimants in judicial review claims and a wide range of parties in Court of Protection proceedings. He also advises and represents a number of NGOs and public bodies. Secondly, Steve regularly acts for nurses and other professionals in appeals and challenges to regulatory decision-making, particularly police disclosure decisions for Enhanced Criminal Records Certificates and barring decisions under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
Steve is co-author of Children in Need: Local Authority Support for Children and Families (Legal Action Group, April 2011) and Disabled Children: A Legal Handbook (Legal Action Group, October 2010). He wrote the chapter on the Independent Safeguarding Authority (now Disclosure and Barring Service) in Professional Discipline and Healthcare Regulators: A Legal Handbook (Legal Action Group, 2012). Steve was awarded Young Barrister of the Year at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2011.
Before coming to Doughty Street Chambers in 2008, Steve worked extensively in the voluntary sector on behalf of disabled children and disabled adults.
From 2006 to 2008, Steve was Campaign Manager for the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign (EDCM), which secured a £770 million investment programme in disabled children’s services from 2008-11. Steve also led on amendments to the Children and Young Persons Bill 2008, creating a new duty on local authorities to provide short breaks for disabled children (in force April 2011).
From 2004-2006, Steve was Head of Public Affairs at TreeHouse, the national charity for autism education. Prior to this, Steve established the policy and campaigns team at the National Autistic Society, where he was Head of Policy and Campaigns. In these roles, Steve was a leading member of the Special Education Consortium (SEC) and was heavily involved in SEC’s work on a number of education Bills to ensure the rights of disabled children and children with special educational needs were protected in the new legislation.
Steve has given evidence to a range of parliamentary committees, including the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill and the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry on child poverty. He has also written widely on legal and policy issues in autism, special education and disability, including articles for Legal Action, ChildRight and Poverty.
Steve is instructed on a wide range public law challenges and routinely advises and represents claimants in judicial review proceedings. He has a particular interest in legal challenges to cuts to public services and was junior counsel for the Claimants in the successful challenge to Birmingham’s decision to move its eligibility threshold for adult social care to ‘critical only’; R (W, M and others) v Birmingham
CC  EWHC 1147 (Admin). Steve is currently instructed on a number of other challenges to cuts to important services for disabled children and disabled adults.
Steve's notable public law cases include:
Supreme Court Court of Appeal High Court
Steve is instructed regularly in Court of Protection cases, using the knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act he gained prior to coming to the bar as the Co-Chair of the Making Decisions Alliance, the voluntary sector coalition campaign for the Act. Steve’s Court of Protection instructions include:
Steve also advises and represents families of disabled children in best interest proceedings, using the inherent jurisdiction of the Family Division of the High Court to determine issues in the child’s best interests.
Steve’s professional discipline and regulatory practice focuses on public law challenges to regulatory decision-making. For example in R (B) v NMC
 EWHC 1264 (Admin) Steve established that the NMC has no power to reopen investigations where no case to answer has been found in the absence of fresh evidence. The NMC’s decision was also held to breach Nurse B’s substantive and procedural legitimate expectations.
Steve has succeeded in numerous challenges to police disclosure decisions brought on behalf of professional clients. His three most recent cases in this area are R (J) v Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall
 EWHC 2996 (Admin) and R (A) v Chief Constable of Kent  EWHC 424 (Admin), both involving nurses, and R (L) v Chief Constable of Cumbria  EWHC 869 (Admin), a case involving a teacher. In all three cases the High Court allowed the application for judicial review on proportionality grounds and ordered Human Rights Act damages to be paid (subject to an appeal in A).
Having succeeded (with Ian Wise QC) in establishing that the ‘auto barring’ provisions of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 breached Articles 6 and 8 ECHR (R (RCN and others) v Secretary of State for Home Department and ISA)
 EWHC 2761) Steve also acted in the two leading cases involving proportionality challenges to barring decisions by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (now the Disclosure and Barring Service). Steve acted for the Royal College of Nursing (with Ian Wise QC) in its intervention in the Court of Appeal in ISA v SB (RCN intervening)  EWCA Civ 977. Steve acted for the appellant (alone in the Upper Tribunal, with Ian Wise QC in the Court of Appeal) in DBS v Harvey  EWCA Civ 180. Mr Harvey, a teacher who assaulted a pupil while unwell and who challenged his inclusion on the adults’ barred list, succeeded in the Upper Tribunal but lost in the Court of Appeal; his application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court is outstanding.
Steve appears frequently for parents and children in education appeals at the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability), the Upper Tribunal and at exclusions and admissions Independent Appeal Panels (IAPs). Steve’s successful Tribunal and IAP cases have included:
Steve has advised and represented in numerous disability discrimination claims, particularly in relation to education, and succeeded in establishing discrimination by a school in South-East England against a 10 year old girl with Asperger syndrome and specific learning difficulties. Steve also established in First Tier Tribunal proceedings that the rules applicable to Tier 4 students discriminated against disabled young people contrary to the Equality Act 2010 and Article 14 ECHR.
As well as acting for individual claimants, Steve regularly advises and represents leading charities and NGOs. This work includes speaking on legal issues at local and national events and seminars and case work. As well as interventions for the National Autistic Society (A v Essex) and The Children’s Society (O v Barking and Dagenham) outlined above, Steve has:
Steve is Chair of AbleChild Africa, a UK-based NGO supporting NGOs working for disabled children and their families in Africa. Steve was also previously a trustee of the Campaign to End Child Poverty.
Steve chairs the School Exclusions Project with the BPP Pro Bono Unit through which law students provide free representation to families at school exclusion Independent Appeal Panels.
Steve is an advisor to Ambitious About Autism, the charity for children with autism which runs TreeHouse school. Steve continues to advise a wide range of charities and NGOs, in particular the Council for Disabled Children and the National Autistic Society.
Steve has an extensive immigration and asylum support practice. Steve has particular expertise on the relationship between the community care scheme for children and adults and the asylum support provisions (see R (VC) v Newcastle, above) and is regularly instructed on judicial review challenges to decisions of local authorities to terminate accommodation and support being provided to failed asylum seekers. An example of this is R (J and others) v Hackney LBC
 EWHC 3021 (Admin), where Steve obtained both interim relief and costs once the claim had settled. In R (IN and WH) v Salford CC, CO/12626/2010, Steve obtained interim relief for two destitute failed asylum seekers, with the authority conceding that it was required to re-assess the claimants’ needs. Steve also regularly volunteers at the Asylum Support Tribunal for ASAP (Asylum Support Appeals Project).
MA (First Class) History (Edinburgh)
MRes Government, Policy and Politics (London)
GDL and BVC
BPP Law School
Diplock Scholar and Queen Mother’s Scholar, Middle Temple.
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