He has a real ability to place people at ease, and he brings calm and clarity to the most contentious of cases. Ben really does care deeply about the individuals that he represents, and this shines through in everything that he does.

Overview

Ben has been a lawyer for the past 20 years, specialising in housing, public law and mental capacity cases. He started out as a solicitor in a small firm on an estate on the outskirts of Manchester, before becoming a barrister at Garden Court North Chambers in 2005.

The legal system can seem complex and frightening to the ordinary people who have to participate in it. Ben remains acutely conscious of this in all the work he does, and strives to ensure that his clients are made to feel as comfortable as is possible throughout a case. He is keen to ensure that complex legal issues are explained in terms that are understandable to the people he represents and advises. He is used to working with people with mental illness, learning disability, autism and other mental impairments. Many of his clients have alcohol or drug addictions and are often disadvantaged as a result of poverty or limited education. Many do not speak English as a first language.

Ben has always specialised in legal aid work and has a good knowledge of the complicated administrative systems that the solicitors he works with have to navigate.

Ben, who is a registered pupil supervisor, is involved in the training and education of the next generation of barristers. He also regularly gives training to other lawyers, professionals and students about his areas of legal expertise. He is interested in particular in the ‘demystification’ of the law, to ensure that legal practice is opened up to as wide a range of people as possible.

Court of Protection

Ben has extensive experience in dealing with mental capacity cases in the Court of Protection. Ben mainly 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 is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor. 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. He also has many years experience of acting in civil proceedings where mental capacity issues arise.

Community care and mental health

Ben is 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. He has many years experience of acting in civil proceedings where mental capacity issues arise.

Public law (judicial review)

Ben has 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.

Housing

Ben has worked on the full range of housing cases during his entire career, including: 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.

Discrimination

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.

Inquests and public inquiries

Ben represents bereaved families at inquests, particularly in circumstances where the death occurred in a care home or hospital.

Notable cases

  • Lincolnshire CC v JK [2016] EWCOP 59: Trial on capacity of elderly woman living in residential care and wishing to return to own home;
  • Re TCS [2016]: Lengthy COP litigation over best interests of adult son re contact with father after parents’ separation;
  • Re TP [2016] EWCOP 61: Complex welfare application involving findings of fact, capacity and best interests of disabled woman under influence of friend;
  • Newcastle CC v CM [2016]: Committals for breach of injunction granted in COP to protect elderly disabled man;
  • RSA v Mella [2016]: High Court application for committal following false statement by D on purported claim for damages; mental capacity and disability issues arising;
  • Re PO [2015] Court of Protection, significant fact finding trial on allegations of parental neglect of disabled adult;
  • Chief Constable of Lancashire v Wilson and others [2015] EWHC 2763: Kerr J – whether section 34 Policing and Crime Act 2009 is incompatible with Article 6 ECHR;
  • R (Mensah) v Salford CC [2014] EWHC Admin 3537: Challenge to local authority’s policy of matching sums payable to children of ‘Zambrano’ carers under section 17 Children Act 1989 to sums payable to failed asylum seekers under section 4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;
  • R (Littlefair) v Darlington BC [2013]: Challenge to council’s decision to close nurseries operated by it;
  • Lane v Kensington and Chelsea [2013] EWHC 1320 (QB): Council’s decision to permit felling of a tree in a garden engaged occupier’s Article 8 rights;
  • R (Howard) v Official Receiver [2013] Admin: Whether OR is exercising a ‘judicial function’ (and is thus outside section 149 Equality Act 2010) when revoking a debt relief order;
  • Places for People v Sharples [2011] EWCA Civ 813: County Court is not prevented from ordering possession on rent arrears grounds against a bankrupt tenant by reason of section 285(3) Insolvency Act 1986;
  • Beedles v Guinness Northern Counties Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 442: Appeal to the CA following judgment in Beedles v Guinness Northern Counties Housing Association (2010) Manchester High Court (QBD) that disabled tenant not entitled to require landlord to carry out internal redecorating pursuant to ‘reasonable adjustment’ duties section 23C Disability Discrimination Act 1995;
  • IB v Birmingham City Council (HB) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with the EHRC intervening [2011] UKUT 23 (AAC) (13 January 2011): Whether provision of Housing Benefit regulations discriminatory within meaning of Article 14 (instructed by EHRC);
  • Sheffield CC v Wall and Others [2010] EWCA Civ 922; The Times Law Reports 9/9/10: Succession to secure tenancies;
  • Eastlands Homes v Whyte [2010] EWHC 695 (QBD) HHJ Holman: Starter tenancies and public law defences;
  • R (Halewood) v West Lancs DC (2009): Capacity to make a homelessness application; and
  • Sheffield City Council v Fletcher (2007) HLR 26: Postponement and setting aside of possession orders.

Publications and media appearances

Ben regularly gives training to solicitors and other professionals on his areas of legal expertise.

Memberships

  • Court of Protection Practitioners Association;
  • North West Housing Law Practitioners Group; and
  • Northern Administrative Lawyers Association.

Recommendations

Leading Junior in Social Housing (Northern): Regularly instructed in statutory homelessness appeals in the County Court. His vast expertise covers all aspects of housing law, including homelessness, possession proceedings, discrimination cases and housing benefit disputes. He has particular experience in cases involving mentally impaired individuals. Strengths: "A very proficient lawyer with an excellent knowledge of housing law who is excellent at dealing with clients with mental health problems." "Bright and very good value." Recent work: Successfully appealed to a circuit judge in a possession claim brought against residential occupiers who alleged that they were tenants.Chambers and Partners 2018
Leading Junior in Court of Protection (All Circuits): He is regularly instructed in cases involving the Official Solicitor and is adept at dealing with mental capacity issues. He primarily acts for disabled adults and family members. Strengths: "Ben is an absolute pleasure to work with, his drafting skills are top class and he is a joy to watch on his feet. He has a real ability to place people at ease, and he brings calm and clarity to the most contentious of cases. Ben really does care deeply about the individuals that he represents, and this shines through in everything that he does."Chambers and Partners 2018
Leading Junior in Administrative and Public Law (Northern and North Eastern): Predominantly acts in claims against local authorities' and other public bodies' housing and community care decisions. He is also proficient at inquests and regularly appears before the Court of Protection. His capabilities include public law disputes involving discrimination. Strengths: "He's very, very good. He knows his stuff, is very experienced and is good with clients." "His instinct is to find a solution to problems. He never shies away from difficult and complex cases." "He's quick, efficient and very knowledgeable." Recent work: Acted in a complex dispute as to the eligibility for care services of a young woman with severe disabilities who had previously been the recipient of an award of damages paid to her in settlement of a claim in negligence.Chambers and Partners 2018
He brings calmness and clarity to his cases.The UK Legal 500 2017
Leading Junior in Administrative and Public Law (Northern and North Eastern): He’s a real pleasure to work with as he’s very supportive and makes himself available to bounce ideas off all the way through a case. He provides clear and reliable advice every time, and is able to see the issues clearly. He has excellent understanding of the wider social welfare and public law issues accompanying Court of Protection cases, and takes a clam and practical approach that clients appreciate.Chambers and Partners 2017
The training was excellent – high quality and bespoke to the areas we particularly wanted to cover. Ben is highly knowledgeable, approachable and able to deliver training and advice in a very practical way.David Gray Solicitors 2017
Leading Junior in Social Housing (Northern): Regularly instructed in statutory homelessness appeals in the County Court. His vast expertise covers all aspects of housing law, including homelessness, possession proceedings, discrimination cases and housing benefit disputes. Strengths: "He has one of the most effective court manners of anybody I've come across. He's very down to earth and judges really like his approach." "Knowledgeable, approachable and always willing to go the extra mile." Chambers and Partners 2017
Leading Junior in Administrative and Public Law (Northern and North Eastern): 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): 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

 

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