Public Law, Equality & Human Rights
Arden Chambers specialises in public law, including equality and human rights issues, acting both for and against public authorities, particularly in a local government context.
Our expertise in this area is demonstrated by our wide range of publications, e.g. Halsbury’s Laws of England (Lexis Nexis), Local Government Constitutional and Administrative Law (Thomson Reuters), Judicial Review Proceedings: A Practitioner’s Guide (LAG). Members are frequently recommended in Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.
Governance and Finance
We have particular expertise in constitutional, governance and finance issues, including executive and non-executive decision-making, budget-setting and finance issues (companies, capital receipts, use of funds and accounts) equality and human rights duties, ethical standards and monitoring and freedom of information and data protection.
Members have been involved in numerous high-profile matters involving, for example:
- local government reorganisation decisions (R (Shrewsbury & Atcham BC) v Secretary of State  EWCA Civ 148;  JPL 1651; R (East Devon BC) v Boundary Committee for England  EWCA Civ 239);  PTSR 1611);
- public/EU procurement matters, including advising an authority on a £350,000,000 major works contract, and resisting a challenge to an allegedly defective procurement exercise;
- waste collection and disposal services and contracts;
- working with an authority on introducing its council tax reduction scheme, and defending another scheme when challenged (R (Buckley) v Sheffield CC  EWHC 512 (Admin));
- service reorganisations due to budget reductions, including
- library and leisure centre closures
- new models of service delivery e.g. co-delivery with community groups
- introducing charges for previously free services;
- defending a directly-elected mayor and a chief executive in ethical standards proceedings;
- police decisions on chargeable “special police services” for major events;
- health service decisions, including
- A&E and maternity unit closures
- refusal to provide particular treatments;
- CCTV schemes.
While we are best known for our work in housing and property, we have considerable experience in a wide range of service areas, including education (admissions, exclusions, and SSEN appeals), children’s services (care, adoption, child sexual exploitation), adult social care, misfeasance in public office, welfare benefits, immigration law inquests and coroners court work, and anti-social behaviour.
Judicial Review and human rights
We appear in all courts and tribunals up to the Supreme Court, and have been involved in some of the most important recent public law and human rights law challenges of the last few years, including:
- most of the leading cases on the availability of Art.8 rights as a defence in possession proceedings including:
- McDonald v McDonald  UKSC 28;  3 WLR 45;  HLR 28;
- Corby BC v Scott  EWCA Civ 276;  PTSR 141;  HLR 23;
- Hounslow LBC v Powell  UKSC 8;  2 AC 186;  HLR 23;
- Manchester CC v Pinnock  UKSC 45;  2 AC 104;  HLR 7;
- Birmingham CC v Lloyd  EWCA Civ 969;  HLR 44;
- the recent challenges to central government’s welfare reform policies (on behalf of two interveners – a local authority and a public interest group – including:
- R (SG) v SSWP  UKSC 16;  1 WLR 1449;  HLR 21 – challenge to the benefit cap;
- R (MA) v SSWP  EWHC 2213 (Admin);  PTSR 1521 – challenge to the bedroom tax.
We routinely deal with equality issues arising in the context of public authority policy decision-making, homelessness provision and possession claims amongst other areas. Our expertise in this area includes:
- the extent to which issues of suitability of accommodation offered in discharge of the main housing duty are informed by the Equality Act 2010, s.149 (public sector equality duty): Poshteh v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC  EWCA Civ 711;  HLR 36 (permission to appeal was granted by the Supreme Court on 29 February 2016 and a hearing is listed for 14 February 2017) and Hackney LBC v Haque ((B5/2016/1028) permission granted by the Court of Appeal with hearing in December 2016);
- whether there was discriminatory treatment in the context of the operation of the housing benefit cap: R (SG & Others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Child Poverty Action Group and Another Intervening)  UKSC 16;  1 WLR 1449;  HLR 21;
- how far any disability should be borne out by the evidence in the context of possession proceedings for anti-social behaviour: Swan Housing Association v Gill  EWCA Civ 1566;  HLR 18;
- the application of the public sector equality duty to local authority decisions to fund community legal services in their area: R (Greenwich Community Law Centre) v Greenwich LBC  EWCA Civ 496;  Eq LR 572; and
- the extent to which an authority was required to consider its obligations under the public sector equality duty when removing a council tax exemption which affected persons with protected characteristics for the purpose of the 2010 Act: R (Buckley) v Sheffield CC  EWHC 512 (Admin).
Ombudsman and Regulation
Members have been instructed to challenge, and advise on, ombudsman decisions, to defend those decisions and we have been standing legal advisers to an ombudsman scheme. We have acted for professional regulatory bodies, local authorities in relation to their regulatory functions and individuals wishing to challenge regulatory decisions which affect them.