Housing and Social Welfare


Chambers & Partners 2015


THE SET  A popular choice for social housing cases and a set that commands real respect for its approach to public law and human rights cases generally. It is praised for its strong commitment to the area and its protection and enforcement of the housing rights of vulnerable individuals. Cases concerning eligibility, community care and mental health issues are a particular speciality. Client service: "When you instruct someone from there, you are getting a team effort and collective discussion as a bonus." Paul Friend is the senior civil clerk.

SILKS  Martin Westgate QC Handles complex social housing matters, dealing with matters such as welfare benefits and disputes against matters of public policy, such as the benefit reforms. His wider understanding of public law issues enables him to "think out of the box on more challenging cases," note impressed sources. Expertise: "He is a clever man who translates his thoughtfulness into creative and effective legal arguments." "He's bright and destined to be a judge.Recent work: Represented the claimants in R (MA and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a high-profile challenge to the 'bedroom tax'. He is highlighted for his work on NJ v Wandsworth LBC, a homelessness appeal concerning refuge accommodation.

JUNIORS  Jamie Burton "A rising star within the set," he has handled cases concerning challenges to council tax payment thresholds, refuge accommodation and housing benefit reductions. He also tackled a successful High Court human rights case relating to social welfare, called Almeida. Expertise: "A persuasive advocate." "His reputation is phenomenal.Recent work: Advised on R (M) v Haringey Council, a challenge to the government’s changes to council tax benefit. Also represented the claimant in NJ v Wandsworth LBC.

David Carter Has established a strong social housing practice and is particularly good on judicial review cases relating to allocation and refusal to supply accommodation. He has also handled appeals against breaches of statutory public sector duties. Recent work: Acted for the claimant, a child, in TS v Croydon LBC, a judicial review seeking interim relief against the authority's refusal to supply accommodation pending a community care assessment.

Dominic Preston Handles difficult disrepair matters and homelessness proceedings. He is praised for his robust style, strategic handling of cases and excellent manner with vulnerable and challenging clients, and for his wider understanding of property and leasehold matters.Expertise: "He is 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." Recent work: He has an excellent appeals practice representing potentially homeless individuals in issues such as rent affordability and the application of the Pereira test to determine vulnerability.

Lindsay Johnson A popular barrister who specialises in tenants' housing issues. He regularly handles cases involving allocation schemes, possession proceedings and unlawful eviction, and is particularly adept at Article 8 arguments. Expertise: "Produces first-class drafting." Recent work: He was recently led by Jan Luba QC in Malik v Fassenfelt, a case stating evicted private tenants are entitled to a determination of proportionality.

Stephen Reeder A broad-based practitioner whose mandates include homelessness appeals, possession claims and community care cases, including mental health and Court of Protection matters. Expertise: "He has an excellent reputation, and is utterly charming." Recent work: Defended the tenant successfully in Douglas Haig Memorial Homes v Donlevy, a possession claim against a secure tenant.

Jim Shepherd Has an excellent reputation for his dedication to the client. He advises on a range of housing matters, and receives particular praise for his representation of vulnerable tenants in possession claims and discrimination cases. Expertise: "He's incredibly easy to work with, helpful and supportive." Recent work: Represented the tenants in House Owners v Berry, a case which seeks to clarify the position in Malik v Fassenfelt on the application of human rights law to private landlord possession claims.

Ben Chataway Handles a broad range of housing matters and is noted for his background working as a solicitor in this field prior to joining Doughty Street. Those that instruct him say this gives him "an understanding of the grittier issues in a case." Expertise: "Clear, thoughtful and considered."
Recent work: Appeared for the claimants in R (MA) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

John Hobson Offers a broad social housing practice for tenants and homeless individuals. His practice includes possession claims, antisocial behaviour and disrepair, alongside issues such as mental health and public law defence. Expertise: "He is very down to earth and approachable for the client." "An excellent advocate who takes a sensible, pragmatic approach and looks at the problem as a whole." Recent work: Acted in a case concerning a claim for possession and injunctive relief against a social housing tenant.

Legal 500 2014


Housing and public law set Doughty Street Chambers’ ‘strong advocates' predominantly represent tenants, in cases that ‘push boundaries'. Martin Westgate QC  appeared in R (MA and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, challenging the ‘bedroom tax’ on disability discrimination grounds. Westgate is leading Jim Shepherd in Peel Investments v Persons Unknown - the first application of article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1988 to private landlords. Lindsay Johnson represented the persons unknown. David Carter is acting in Supreme Court case Samin v Westminster CC, challenging the ‘right to reside’ test in homelessness cases. Tracey Bloom joined the judiciary.

Martin Westgate QCVery approachable and analyses all the issues in depth. Authoritative in court.'

David CarterExperienced and knowledgeable.'

Jamie BurtonA strong advocate.'

Lindsay Johnson ‘Practical and works reasonably well in advance.'

Jim Shepherd ‘Reliable, prompt and well respected.'

Alison PickupVery clever, definitely one to watch.'

Dominic PrestonHis drafting is excellent, he is practical and his heart is committed to social housing.'

Stephen ReederUnparalleled knowledge of housing law.'


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