Before coming to the Bar, Tom worked in Citizens Advice Bureaux and a Law Centre, where he specialised in employment, discrimination and social security law.

Tom has worked with CPAG on the Rutherford 'bedroom tax' and Winder Council Tax Reduction cases and has a particular interest in work which approaches welfare rights cases from a public law angle

PERSONAL PROFILE

Tom is a social welfare law specialist, with a particular interest in strategic litigation.

Cases in which he has been instructed have established:

  • disabled children who need an extra bedroom for overnight carers are entitled to exemption from the ‘bedroom tax’ (Rutherford);
  • several hundred thousand EU workers were unlawfully subjected to the Worker Registration Scheme after 2009 (Gubeladze);
  • contrary to persistent appellate authority, tax credits claimants are entitled to bring late tribunal appeals (VK);
  • council tax reduction schemes cannot lawfully impose ‘past residence’ requirements (Winder);
  • disabled people who need accompaniment outside because of distress can be entitled to Personal Independence Payment (MH).

Tom obtained a Distinction in his GDL (scoring the best results in the university in at least five years), and Outstanding in his BPTC. He won Denning, Megarry, Buchanan and Hardwicke scholarships from his Inn and was the Bar European Group’s Peter Duffy Human Rights Scholar. Before coming to the Bar, Tom worked in Citizens Advice Bureaux and a Law Centre, where he specialised in employment, discrimination and social security law. As an activist, Tom was the Sheila McKechnie Foundation UK Consumer Campaigner of the Year 2009, in recognition of a campaign he led about the cost of contacting government to claim benefits. The campaign led to a policy change affecting 35m phone calls per year and also won his bureau the national award of Campaigning CAB of the Year. He also established the Yorkshire Tribunal Advocacy Project, which provides pro bono representation in social security tribunals. 

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Social Security

Tom’s background in CAB and a Law Centre gives him long experience in, and dedication to, administrative social welfare law. He deals with a mixture of judicial review and statutory appeals.

His work is mostly in the Upper Tribunal, High Court and Court of Appeal, but he has also litigated cases in the Supreme Court and CJEU and still does some FTT work.

He has written widely on the use of urgent public law remedies for destitute clients, and has helped develop the law in relation to public funding of social security cases (JC– 3 Judge panel of UT).

He regularly writes and provides training in this area. He is cases editor of the Journal of Social Security Law and sits on the Bar Council’s Civil (Public) Panel.

Example cases

CO/6100/2016 R (CJ) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (UT, 2017)

Whether late mandatory reconsideration process compatible with Art 6 ECHR.

Case 121/2016 Equal Rights Trust v Bulgaria (ECSR, 2017)

Whether new Bulgarian social welfare legislation unlawfully discriminatory on race, age and gender grounds, and/or incompatible with Bulgaria’s international and constitutional law obligations towards children.

C3/2016/3510 Hickey v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (CA, October 2017)

Meaning of social engagement in PIP descriptors.

GB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKUT 566 (AAC) (15 December 2016)

Definition of blindness in context of disability living allowance and industrial injuries disablement benefit.

R (Carmichael and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKSC 58, [2016] 1 WLR 4550

‘Bedroom tax’ test case on the absence of adequate provision for children requiring overnight care. News article

MH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKUT 531 (AAC) (28 November 2016)

PIP mobility and mental health problems: whether a need for accompaniment to avoid distress can give rise to entitlement to the higher rate of PIP mobility.

VK v Commissioners of HM Revenue and Customs [2016] UKUT 331 (AAC) (11 July 2016)

Whether any power for FTT to entertain late tax credits appeals. News article.

DG v Liverpool City Council [2016] RA 259 (VTE) (Dickie VP)

Whether Valuation Tribunal can hear merits appeal against local authority’s refusal to exercise discretion to waive CT liability.

JC v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2014] UKUT 352 (AAC), [2015] AACR 6

Meaning of ‘social contact’. Factors relevant to grant of exceptional case funding.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v PD [2014] UKUT 549 (AAC), [2015] AACR 24

Whether conversion from IB to ESA was ultra vires.

R (Winder and others) v Sandwell MBC [2014] EWHC 2617 (Admin), [2015] PTSR 34

Judicial review challenge to the vires of a residence requirement in a council tax reduction scheme. News article.

Discrimination Law

Tom brings a discrimination law focus to a broad range of cases: in particular housing, immigration, goods and services, education and public functions. He has a particular interest in discrimination claims against public authorities in the county court.

Example cases

X v University of Y (Mediation, September 2015)

Litigation between student and university about reasonable adjustments for disability following neurological injury. Settlement following representation at mediation, on terms that university paid damages and costs, permitted X to continue on course, and committed to future adjustments.

X Housing Association v Y (County Court, September 2015)

Possession claim on mandatory grounds withdrawn at court, following service of Defence and skeleton demonstrating that claim amounted to a racially discriminatory act, contrary to EA 2010 and also EU law.

X (by his litigation friend Y) v Z (County Court, August 2015)

Damages claim for disability discrimination in the performance of a public function – failure to arrange a home visit to perform statutory assessment. Damages and costs paid.

X (by his litigation friend Y) v Z College (County Court, June 2015)

Damages claim for young adult (protected party) expelled from college course: failure to make reasonable adjustments during expulsion procedure. Settlement on terms that college paid damages and costs. X did not wish to return to course.

X v Y NHS Foundation Trust (Employment Tribunal, July 2014)

Settlement on terms that Trust pay damages, following multi day PHR in which ET found X was a disabled person.

EU Law

Tom’s work in social security and immigration law means he regularly deals with EU law issues. He litigates at all levels from the First-tier Tribunal to the European Court of Justice.

Example cases

Case C-618/16 Prefeta v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (ECJ, 2017) - UT proceedings: RP v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKUT 0422 (AAC) (6 September 2016)

Reference to ECJ on whether UK’s derogations from the Residence Directive are ultra vires the A8 Treaty of Accession.

C3/2016/0358 Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Fileccia (CA, June 2017)

Whether UK must make provisional payments when there is a disagrement between member states about which is competent to pay an individual benefits.

C3/2015/2886 Hrabkova v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (CA, March 2017)

Whether children of self-employed EU nationals enjoy similar education rights while in state of residence to children of employed EU nationals.

C3/2015/1796 Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Gubeladze (CA, 2017) - UT proceedings: TG v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] UKUT 50 (AAC) (30 January 2015)

Whether Worker Registration Scheme unlawful for final two years of operation, and what kind of past residence it is necessary for a retiree to demonstrate in order to acquire permanent residence rights. News article.

Alhashem v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] EWCA Civ 395, [2016] 3 WLR 853

Definition of ‘labour market benefits’ – whether disabled jobseekers can claim ESA.

Immigration and Asylum

Tom appears regularly in the First-tier Tribunal, Upper Tribunal and High Court. He has particular expertise in cases involving children and family life.

Example cases

R (X) v First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Chancellor interested parties) CO/3590/2015 (High Court, 25 November 2015 and 19 May 2016; Upper Tribunal, 25 October 2016 and 13 December 2016)

A Cart case in the High Court, subsequently remitted to the UT. Whether there is a right of appeal against a FTT’s decision to treat an appeal as withdrawn when SSHD withdraws the underlying decision; factors to be taken into account by FTT when doing so.

C5/2014/3869 SA (Sudan) v Entry Clearance Officer, Cairo (CA, 8 October 2015)

Meaning of ‘insurmountable obstacles’; relevance of potential for future entry clearance application. Appeal allowed by consent after permission granted.

SB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2014] UKUT 495 (AAC), [2015] 3 Legal Action 32

Validity of a telephone marriage when one party in UK. News article.

Hassan v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] UKAITUR DA007352013: (McCloskey P, Judge Chalkley)

Test for exclusion from international protection; application of Refugee Convention test in humanitarian protection context.

Secretary of State for the Home Department v Naitini [2013] UKAITUR DA009962013 (Judge McKee, Judge Martin)

Art 8 and automatic deportation. Relevance of military service for UK in Art 8 balance.

Housing, Community Care, Injunctions and Court of Protection

With a CAB background, Tom has extensive experience of acting in housing, social care and Court of Protection cases. He is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor. He has particular expertise in unlawful eviction, capacity issues, and cases raising disability discrimination defences and counterclaims.

Example cases

Begache v Noreen[2016] 6 Legal Action 48

Unlawful eviction. Included damages (in excess of rent) for a period where landlord had unlawfully reentered but tenant was unaware. Included indemnity costs for beating Part 36 offer even though made late.

Selivona v Sandwell MBC (County Court, 2016)

Appeal from possession order made on mandatory grounds; tenant alleged that possession proceedings defective and also indirectly racially discriminatory; after appeal was allowed and remitted, LA settled proceedings, accepting that tenant was a secure tenant not introductory and that she should remain in the property.

A Housing Association v D (by her litigation friend the OS) (County Court, 2016)

Trial of Equality Act 2010 disability discrimination defence to possession claim made on mandatory grounds.

Seale v Armitage Residential (County Court, 2015)

Successful appeal from a first instance decision to strike out an unrepresented tenant’s tenancy deposit claim. The judge below had relied on White Book commentary which was subsequently demonstrated to be incorrect. News article.

Chief Constable of Lancashire Police v Wilson & ors (County Court, 2015)

Representing alleged ringleader of gang in injunction sought against 7 alleged gang members under s 34 Policing and Crime Act 2009. Proceedings discontinued by applicant after several hearings on PII and disclosure.

Waliezada v Dickson [2014] 3 Legal Action 22

Unlawful eviction. £12,000 award of damages at trial (and costs on an indemnity basis) despite period of homelessness being only 6 nights.

PUBLICATIONS & SEMINARS

  • From nought to support: setting up a volunteer-based tribunal advocacy scheme(2012) 154 Adviser 10.

MEMBERSHIPS & ASSOCIATIONS

Tom sits on the Bar Council’s Civil (Public) Panel.