Throughout his career Ben has specialised in publicly funded housing and social welfare cases, public law and discrimination, and mental capacity.
Ben was formerly a solicitor (admitted 1999) specialising in housing law and a duty advisor in several County Courts across Greater Manchester through practice as solicitor. In December 2008, Ben was a finalist in the 'Young Legal Aid Barrister' category in the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2008.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
All aspects, in particular homelessness, allocations, possession proceedings, unlawful evictions, housing benefit disputes and discrimination cases. Ben is regularly instructed to act in cases in which the Official Solicitor is involved.
Substantial experience of bringing public law challenges including emergency injunction applications for interim relief in housing and community care cases, enforcement of interim/substantial housing duties, challenges to allocation schemes, cases under the Children Act 1989 and asylum support disputes. In addition to his Administrative Court work Ben regularly appears in statutory homelessness appeals in the county court.
Experienced in all aspects including challenges to assessments and content of care plans, accommodation in care homes and closure thereof, charging for services and guardianship proceedings. Ben has a particular interest in capacity issues that arise in connection with community care and other social welfare support.
Court of Protection
Ben has extensive experience in dealing with mental capacity issues in the Court of Protection, as well as in other civil proceedings. In COP proceedings Ben acts for disabled adults and their family members in a wide range of cases, from health and welfare applications and cases involving DOLS, to enduring powers of attorney and property and financial cases. He also acts in guardianship/nearest relative displacement proceedings, and in cases brought under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to protect vulnerable adults.
Ben has wide experience of handling discrimination cases in connection with goods and services, housing and welfare benefits, as well as in relation to the enforcement of the positive equality duties.
Ben has experience of appearing before tribunals in benefit cases and in advising on a wide range of cases regarding social security entitlement.
Ben also has experience of defending gang injunctions brought under Policing and Crime Act 2009 ('gangbos').
Ben has extensive experience of representing vulnerable and disadvantaged parties in the civil courts, the Court of Protection and other social welfare tribunals and is interested in developing his practice to provide representation for bereaved families at inquests.
- R (Mensah) v Salford CC  EWHC Admin 3537 Challenge to local authority's policy of matching sums payable to children of 'Zambrano' carers under s17 Children Act 1989 to sums payable to failed asylum seekers under s4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Judgment.
- R (Littlefair) v Darlington BC  challenge to council's decision to close nurseries operated by it.
- Lane v Kensington and Chelsea  EWHC 1320 (QB) - council's decision to permit felling of a tree in a garden engaged occupier's Art 8 rights.
- R (Howard) v Official Receiver  Admin - whether OR is exercising a 'judicial function' (and is thus outside s149 Equality Act 2010) when revoking a debt relief order.
- Places for People v Sharples  EWCA Civ 813 County Court is not prevented from ordering possession on rent arrears grounds against a bankrupt tenant by reason of s285(3) Insolvency Act 1986. Judgment.
- Beedles v Guinness Northern Counties Ltd  EWCA Civ 442 - Appeal to the CA following judgment in Beedles v Guinness Northern Counties Housing Association (2010) Manchester High Court (QBD) disabled tenant not entitled to require landlord to carry out internal redecorating pursuant to 'reasonable adjustment' duties s23C Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Judgment.
- IB v Birmingham City Council (HB) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with the EHRC intervening  UKUT 23 (AAC) (13 January 2011) - whether provision of Housing Benefit regulations discriminatory within meaning of Art. 14. Instructed by EHRC.
- Sheffield CC v Wall and Others  EWCA Civ 922; The Times Law Reports 9/9/10 - Succession to secure tenancies.
- Eastlands Homes v Whyte  EWHC 695 (QBD) HHJ Holman - Starter tenancies and public law defences.
- R (Halewood) v West Lancs DC (2009) - Capacity to make a homelessness application.
- Sheffield City Council v Fletcher (2007) HLR 26 - Postponement and setting aside of possession orders.
Leading Junior in Administrative and Public Law: Northern and North Eastern (2016) " Enjoys a broad public law practice and has experience in welfare rights, social housing, mental health and discrimination. He frequently appears in the Administrative Court and in statutory homelessness appeals. He has the added advantage of prior experience as a solicitor specialising in social welfare cases. Strengths: "He's very good with clients and very good at seeking to reach agreements." "He has great knowledge of the area, thinks outside the box and has a really good manner with clients." Recent work: Acted in R (Mensah) v Salford City Council, a Court of Appeal challenge to the local authority's policy for calculating the amount of financial assistance payable under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989." Chambers and Partners 2016
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2016) "Covers a range of housing, welfare rights and mental health cases and has an excellent reputation for social welfare work. He is regularly instructed in cases involving the Official Solicitor and has extensive experience in Court of Protection matters. Strengths: "He is knowledgeable, approachable and always willing to go the extra mile." "He is excellent, brilliant with clients, responsive with urgent queries and just really clever." Recent work: Represented a vulnerable tenant in a judicial review of a local authority decision to refuse housing, pursuant to their community care and mental health obligations." Chambers and Partners 2016
Leading Junior in Administrative and Public Law: Northern (2015) "Centres his public law practice on matters concerning social housing, welfare rights and mental health. He is also interested in questions of discrimination. "He is very approachable, and very good at explaining complex issues to lay clients." "He is a joy to work with, and is reliable and efficient on the papers." Acted for the claimant in a judicial review challenging a decision of the Official Receiver to revoke a debt relief order. The case turned on the issue of whether the Receiver was bound by the public sector equality duty, on which the court held that her exercising of a judicial function meant this duty was not binding." Chambers & Partners 2015
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2015) "Ben McCormack of Garden Court North Formerly a solicitor and continues to receive effusive praise from sources. He represents tenants and vulnerable clients in a range of social housing mandates which include social welfare and community care. "He is very well prepared and an excellent advocate in court." "A reasonable opponent who does not give concessions where he should not, but will focus on key points for the client." Chambers & Partners 2015
Leading junior in Social Housing: Northern (2014) "Ben McCormack continues to be noted for his experience in a range of welfare law matters, including benefits and community care, as well as housing. He is particularly recognised for his excellence on Equality Act and public law issues".
Leading junior in Administrative and Public Law: The Regions (2013) "...Ben McCormack has a public law practice which spans the areas of social housing, welfare and mental health." Chambers & Partners 2013
Leading junior in Social Housing: Northern (2013) "Also present is Ben McCormack , who ispraised by solicitors for being "great with clients" and is singled out as someone who is"really good on new developments in the law." His broad remit includes homelessness, possession proceedings and housing benefit disputes." Chambers & Partners 2013
Leading junior in Social Housing : Northern (2012) "... Ben McCormack of Garden Court North [is] an increasingly important presence at the Social Housing Bar, McCormack is praised for his thorough and able approach." Chambers & Partners 2012
Leading junior in Public and Administrative Law: Northern (2012) "Also at this set is Ben McCormack, who has built up a substantial reputation for acting against public bodies on housing law claims. He has had a busy year challenging allocation schemes and decisions relating to community care provisions. He also takes on cases involving asylum and human rights issues. Peers label him as "extremely approachable and knowledgeable." Chambers & Partners 2012
Leading junior in Social Housing: Northern (2011) "At the same set Ben McCormack has been particularly busy with homelessness appeals and judicial review cases. He is praised for his"thoroughness and depth of housing law knowledge." Chambers & Partners 2011
Leading junior in Administrative and Public Law: Northern (2011) "Also at this set, Ben McCormack ...[has] substantial experience in public law challenges against public bodies in the North..." Chambers & Partners 2011
Leading junior in Social Housing: Northern (2010) "Former solicitor Ben McCormack is an important figure in public law in the North and has a lot of experience within the social housing world." Chambers & Partners 2010
Leading junior in Social Housing: Northern (2009) "Also at Garden Court, former solicitor Ben McCormack moves up the rankings this year. Solicitors are particularly appreciative of his ability to turn work around quickly." Chambers & Partners 2009
Up and coming in Social Housing: Northern (2008) "An up-and-coming presence at the set, Ben McCormack has impressed solicitors with his 'ability to relate well to clients,' his 'effective advocacy' and 'thorough preparation'. " Chambers & Partners 2008
PUBLICATIONS & SEMINARS
9/9/15 - Court of Protection talk for Young Legal Aid Lawyers North
12/2/15 - Speaker at "How to do Judicial Review - Manchester - February 2015" (PLP Training)
25/1/13 - Contributor to round-table discussion on Pubic Sector Equality Duties (PSED) organised by CAB Equality Strategy team
15/10/12 - Afternoon chair at Public Law Project JR London conference
25/9/11 - Signatory to letter to the Guardian Media and politicians are misleading about law on squatters
22/11/12 - Trust us, we're the Government - JR Clampdown: the latest "poorly conceived" assault on the rule of law (The Justice Gap)
22/10/10 - Disability Equality Duty Considered by the Court (Pieretti) (LexisWeb.co.uk)
MEMBERSHIPS & ASSOCIATIONS
Northwest Housing Law Practitioners Group
Legal Action Group