About Andrew Arden QC
Although best known for the numerous reported cases in which he has appeared, including 29 in the House of Lords/Supreme Court, and the books he authors or edits in both housing and local government law, much if not most of Andrew’s work has always been “below the waterline”.
Relatively early in his career, Andrew conducted a number of local government inquiries and reviews which gave him a unique perspective on how authorities work and how they can best work. From the 1980s, he has been involved in most of the significant local government financial and constitutional legal issues , including SWAPS, PFI, CCT and EU procurement, state aid, trading powers, partnerships, pension schemes, reorganisation/boundary commission and human rights, both in court (including the infamous Crédit Suisse litigation, the successful East Devon reorganisation challenge and all the major housing & human rights cases from Qazi and Kay to the Manchester and Hounslow cases) and by way of advisory work: among other matters, he has recently advised authorities on the restructuring of minimum revenue provision for debt redemption and on innovative partnership schemes to achieve new house-building.
Nor does this work always fall into neat compartments: sometimes, approached by an authority under challenge, it is fairly clear that – whether or not the authority can defend the particular claim – its structures and procedures are at risk and may be in need of reform, so that a major case becomes both a defence of the authority and an opportunity, working with the authority, to ensure that it is protected from future litigation. On the advisory front, it is sometimes – perhaps even commonly – the case that while the direction being taken is flawed, even a slight shift in policy or practice could achieve all or virtually all that the authority want, even if that was not the question asked.
It is for this proactive approach that – within local government if not more widely – Andrew is best known and it is the work he enjoys most and that keeps him in practice after more than a few years. Recent examples include successfully resisting a major challenge to the whole of a large local authority’s homelessness and allocations operations at the same time as assisting it in a wholesale reorganisation focused on getting it right in the future – and working with an authority to use a Tribunal challenge to service charge issues with very significant financial consequences, likewise to ensure that problems in the future are minimised if not eliminated. Again, involvement in a major trading standards prosecution in which constitutional challenges were successfully resisted (with the practical effect of knocking out the defence in its entirety) led both to changes in the authority’s constitution and reconsideration of the training needed in an important, if often understated, role. In yet another case, the issue raised by the authority, based on a prospective challenge, had not yet identified a fundamental want of power which could be rectified for the future (and minimised for the past).
Andrew’s singular, “trade mark” approach recognises that the source of many of an authority’s problems which have led to actual or threatened – or even just concern about the prospect of – legal challenge is more usually than not to be found at a somewhat “deeper” level than the immediate issue, whether “institutional” (e.g. constitutional arrangements, standing orders or administrative practices) or policy, and to identify it in a way that assists the authority to move forward on a stronger basis instead of leaving the problem untouched (leading to further challenges in the future).