28th March 2023


54 Doughty Street
020 7404 1313

Domestic Abuse in Housing Conference

9am – 6pm, followed by a drink’s reception and canapes

Event Material 

The slides are available here

Please join us for our Housing & Social Welfare Team's flagship conference of 2023. The conference will draw together experts in housing law and members of front-line organisations working with victims of domestic abuse and their families for a day of discussion, analysis, and experience-sharing. The aim is that those attending will leave the conference better equipped to support victims of domestic abuse facing housing difficulties. The conference will include sessions on homelessness, allocation of social housing, common problems faced by tenants including benefit difficulties, and the role of the Equality Act 2010. There will also be sessions about working safely with domestic abuse survivors and the unique issues that arise in cases involving children and domestic abuse.

Access the programme for the day here

Keynote Speaker:

Harriet Wistrich, Centre for Women’s Justice

Harriet is the founder and director of the Centre for Women’s Justice and a solicitor of 25 years’ experience. Having worked for several years with renowned civil liberties firm Birnberg Peirce Ltd., she has acted in many high-profile cases surrounding violence against women. She is highly esteemed in her field and has won multiple awards including the title of Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2018 for Public Law.

The conference will include a keynote speech, a mixture of panel sessions and seminars, a special topic and closing remarks. Additional speakers will be listed here as they are confirmed:

Panel Session 1: Domestic abuse and homelessness/allocations

Chaired by Jo Underwood, Shelter

The panel will explore key issues arising in homelessness applications for domestic abuse survivors, including vulnerability and whether it is reasonable for a person to continue to occupy premises. They will address how homelessness duties are to be performed including suitability and out of borough offers. They will also consider how allocation policies should cater for victims of domestic abuse and explore potential judicial review challenges to allocation decisions.

Panel Session 2: Working with survivors of domestic abuse

Chaired by Zimran Samuel MBE, Doughty Street Chambers

The discussion will be an exploration of the unique considerations that arise when working with survivors of domestic abuse. The panel will discuss soft skills needed to work safely with vulnerable clients, including children.

  • Saskia Hagelberg, sexual health team leader, Solace Women’s Aid
  • Laura Tomsa, Domestic Abuse Lead, Barnardo’s 

Special topic: Children, domestic abuse and housing

The session will be an overview of the unique legal issues arising in domestic abuse and housing cases involving children and practical tips in navigating these cases.

Seminar 1: Domestic abuse and tenancies – the common problems

Chaired by Dominic Preston Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

The seminar will consider a range of common problems faced by clients in domestic abuse and housing cases, including the ‘nuts and bolts’ of tenant’s rights, anti-social behaviour, succession and benefits issues, with a focus on providing practical tips. There will also be an update on the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

Seminar 2: Domestic abuse, housing and the Equality Act 2010

Chaired Alice Irving  Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

The seminar will provide an introduction to key concepts in the Equality Act 2010 that are relevant in the domestic abuse context, including sex as a protected characteristic. It will highlight when the Equality Act 2010 might be relevant and useful in domestic abuse cases. It will also explore specific instances of potential discrimination challenges.

Closing address

Martin Westgate KC, Doughty Street Chambers.

Martin Westgate KC is head of the Public Law team at Doughty Street Chambers and is a leading silk in the field. With a long track record in all aspects of housing and social welfare law, he is described as a “very skilful and formidable advocate”, continuing to demonstrate range and versatility since taking silk in 2010. He has appeared in a number of leading cases at all levels up to and including the Supreme Court.

General Accessibility:

  • Please let us know in advance if you need any assistance accessing our meeting facilities. For further information, please refer to the Reasonable Adjustment section of DSC’s Equality & Diversity Policy here or contact DSC Head of Facilities, Terrance Munduru.

Further Details:


We are delighted to have the Legal Action Group as our media partners for this conference.

  • Please let us know in advance if you need any assistance accessing our meeting facilities. For further information, please refer to the Reasonable Adjustment section of DSC’s Equality & Diversity Policy here or contact DSC Head of Facilities, Terrance Munduru.
  • Due to our commitment to managing our environmental impact, materials for this event including slides and handouts will not be printed.
  • Attendees are encouraged to bring laptops/iPad’s etc. if they wish to take notes. An events pack (including the slides and handouts) will be made available electronically to attendees on the day of the event. 
  • If you require slides printed as a reasonable adjustment, please contact events@doughtystreet.co.uk.
  • We ask you ensure you bring all laptops/iPad’s fully charged. The only opportunity to charge devices will be during breaks as charging points are located at either side of the hall.