James was a former housing law solicitor admitted in 1992 before being called to the Bar in 1998. Since then he has become "one of the leading lights for social housing work" (Chambers & Partners) and practises in all areas of housing law including; residential landlord and tenant, unlawful eviction and harassment, allocations and homelessness and injunctions. He specialises particularly in housing cases involving human rights issues, complex possession proceedings, homelessness appeals and disputes involving multiple parties and agencies. James is recommended for his “substantial experience in public law challenges against public bodies in the North” (Chambers & Partners 2012) and is regularly involved in public law and human rights cases across all areas of law challenging decisions of public authorities and tribunals including judicial reviews relating to community care with a particular interest in the interface of community care and asylum support, mental health, education and housing and homelessness. He advises on the impact and rights and obligations under the ECHR across all areas of practice.
One of his most notable cases is the Supreme Court case of Manchester City Council v Pinnock  UKSC 45, which held that proportionality of an eviction can be raised as a defence in claims brought by public authorities reversing three earlier decisions of the House of Lord. He also appeared in the House of Lords in McCann  the leading test case on ASBOs.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
James is recognised as a "leading expert on all aspects of housing law" (Chambers and Partners 2016) and his practice includes residential landlord and tenant (public/private), in particular possession proceedings, disrepair and housing related personal injury, unlawful eviction and harassment, judicial review, allocations and homelessness (HA 1996 appeals), housing benefit, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) and injunctions. He also represents trespassers, gypsy and traveller cases and cases involving Mobile Homes Act 1983 and his experience also includes enforcing private rented sector standards under the Housing Act 2004 and Environmental Protection Act 1990, cases involving disabled facilities grants, mortgage possessions and property law generally. He has experience of acting on behalf of those with diminished capacity through instructions from the Official Solicitor and in homelessness cases involving clients with mental health problems.
James is recommended for his “substantial experience in public law challenges against public bodies in the North” (Chambers & Partners) and is regularly involved in public law and human rights cases across all areas of law challenging decisions of public authorities and tribunals including judicial reviews relating to community care with a particular interest in the interface of community care and asylum support, mental health including MHRT delays, education and housing and homelessness. He advises on the impact and rights and obligations under the ECHR across all areas of practice.
Mental Health and Community care
James undertakes judicial review of community care and mental health decisions including failing to carry out assessments, unlawful eligibility criteria, the exclusion of persons subject to immigration control from community care services, failing to put care plans into effect, failing to provide services in an emergency and failing to ensure compliance with the Disability Equality Duty. He also undertakes Court of Protection work and displacement of nearest relative cases.
Anti-social Behaviour Orders and Gang injunctions (Gangbos)
James has a particular interest in the use of methods addressed apparently at Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB), including Public Spaces Protection Orders, being misused for social control.
James has experience of defending those against whom injunctions are sought and challenging existing injunction. This also extends to defending those against whom gang injunctions are sought and challenging existing gang injunctions, and he has been instructed in a number of leading cases in the Court of Appeal concerning Article 6 challenges to the nature and extent of interim gang injunctions. James also appeared in a challenge to a begging injunction brought by Leeds City Council (2015).
James undertakes discrimination claims in goods and services relating to premises, and the conduct of public authorities.
Local Government law
James has a particular interest in Local Authority powers and duties including compulsory purchase, planning, education and social services.
Personal Information and Privacy
Supreme Court and House of Lords
- Scott v Southern Pacific Mortgages Ltd and Ors  UKSC 52 (sale and leaseback).
- Manchester City Council v Pinnock  UKSC 45 Proportionality.
- R v Manchester Crown Court ex parte McCann  IAC 787;  UKHL 39 Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, ASBOs judgment.
Court of Appeal
- Murray v Lancashire Constabulary  EWCA Civ 1174 (18 November 2015) judgment Appeal against an interim injunction imposing prohibitions designed to prevent the commission of “gang related violence”.
- Lancashire Constabulary v Wilson & Anor  EWCA Civ 907 (21 July 2015) judgment.
- Chief Constable of Lancashire v Wilson & Ors  EWHC 2763 (QB) (14 July 2015) judgment.
- Samuels v Birmingham City Council  EWCA Civ 1051 (homelessness). Judgment.
- Jones v Canal And River Trust  EWHC 534 (QB) (Art 8 defences).
- JL, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Defence  EWCA Civ 449. Judgment.
- Cook v The Mortgage Business Plc  EWCA Civ 17 North East Property Buyers litigation - sale and leaseback.
- Makisi v Birmingham City Council and two other linked appeals  EWCA Civ 355 Homelessness - right to make oral representations.
- Salford City Council v Garner  HLR 35; The Times 10 March 2004 Handing over keys may create a tenancy; Introductory Tenancies.
- North British Housing Association v Matthews and others  EWCA Civ 1736 and  H.L.R. 17, p242 Power to adjourn mandatory possession proceedings.
- Hayes v Transco plc  EWCA Civ 261.
- Manchester City Council v Finn  HLR41;  EWCA Civ 1998 Suspended possession orders.
- Bond v Leicester City Council  EWCA HLR 6 Homelessness and domestic violence.
- Sheffield City Council v Hopkins  EWCA HLR 12 Tolerated trespassers.
- Sharing, R (on the application of) v Preston County Court  EWHC 515 (Admin) (22 February 2012) Administrative Court quashes refusal of County Court Judge to grant permission to appeal.
- North East Property Buyers Litigation  EWHC 2991 (Ch).
- Rogerson v Wigan MBC  H.L.R. 10, p129;  EWHC 1677 (QB) Definition of hostel.
- Yates v Elaby ChD 17/11/03 Reported Lawtel 1/11/06 Agent held liable as landlord for unlawful eviction and disrepair.
- R v Secretary of State Home Dept ex parte Nazir Musa EWHC (QB) 11/5/2000 Extending time limits in judicial review.
- Harries and Simpson v Alan Paine Knitwear and others UKEAT/0014/04/SM 28/5/04.
- Helena Housing Ltd v Mower & Molyneux (28/11/07) (HHJ Mackay at Liverpool County Court) Entrenched tolerated trespassers. Commentary in Jan 08 housing bulletin.
- Smith-v- Humberside Magistrates Court  IDS Brief.
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2016) "Has a broad social housing practice, with experience in both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. He is particularly noted for defending possession proceedings on behalf of tenants with mental health issues or learning difficulties. Strengths: "He is known to be a leading expert on all aspects of housing law and is determined to get the best outcome." "He has a really good reputation, and is clearly very knowledgeable. "He is phenomenally clever and incredibly sharp." Recent work: Junior counsel in a Supreme Court appeal regarding overriding interests of occupiers against mortgagees in sale and leaseback arrangements." Chambers and Partners 2016
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2015) "Highly reputed junior for social housing matters. His expertise includes a full range of matters including complex possession proceedings, homelessness appeals and disputes involving multiple parties and agencies. Expertise: "He is pretty much excellent at everything. He's so intelligent." Chambers and Partners 2015
Leading Junior in Administrative and Public Law: The Regions (2013) "...James Stark , who focuses the public law element of his practice on issues stemming from housing law.Solicitors comment that he is particularly adept at the more complicated c ases, observing that 'he seems to have that ability to address the court on quite complex, Article 8 human rights-related issues'." Chambers & Partners 2013
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2013) "James Stark of Garden Court North is lauded as someone who "knows everything there is to know about housing law." He is praised for his determination, and is known for being "thoroughly committed, particularly in difficult, hard to win cases"." Chambers & Partners 2013
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2012) "James Stark of Garden Court North is ...praised as a leading tenant barrister , and is lauded for always having his eye firmly fixed on the salient points in a case. In one recent highlight, he acted in the Supreme Court in Manchester City Council v Pinnock, a case concerning the bearing of Article 8 of the ECHR on possession orders" Chambers & Partners 2012
Leading Junior Administrative and Public Law: The Regions (2012) "James Stark is commended for his "encyclopaedic knowledge of housing case law." A recent highlight saw him acting before the Supreme Court in the case of Manchester City Council v Pinnock. Sources credit him as being "on the ball" and "accomplished at understanding the urgency of a case."" Chambers & Partners 2012
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2011) "James Stark of Garden Court North attracts widespread praise for his expertise in housing law. He was recently involved in the high-profile Supreme Court case of Manchester City Council v Pinnock, a matter that looked at the issue of proportionality when granting possession of a demoted tenancy. Peers admire his"inventive style" and say he is "a straightforward opponent who fights his corner with vigour"." Chambers & Partners 2011
Leading Junior in Administrative and Public Law: Northern (2011) "...James Stark [has] substantial experience in public law challenges against public bodies in the North and never fail to impress with [his] thoroughness and depth of housing law knowledge." Chambers & Partners 2011
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2010) "....... is one of the leading lights for social housing work in the region and 'has the Northern market largely sewn up,' according to peers." Chambers & Partners 2010
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2009) "...considered "an expert when it comes to tolerated trespassers work," Stark is also respected for his "encyclopaedic knowledge of housing allocation and possession proceedings." Chambers & Partners 2009
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2008) "James Stark impressed sources with his'depth of knowledge in this area.' A former solicitor, his past twelve months have consisted of a diet of possession hearings and unlawful eviction cases, as well as a substantial number of homelessness appeals." Chambers & Partners 2008
Leading Junior in Social Housing: Northern (2007) "Outside London, there are very few concentrations of social housing talent but Garden Court North can claim to represent one of them...Amongst its numbers it can count James Stark, whose practice mirrors that of the group as a whole...described as being 'extremely hard working and very committed.'" Chambers & Partners 2007
PUBLICATIONS & SEMINARS
Contributor on Housing Law Issues to Legal Action, Roof, Independent Lawyer and other legal publications. Articles include:
- Are squatting reform proposals causing confusion? - Lexis Nexis Current Awareness 12/10/11
- "Lawful consequences" (article covering the House of Lords ruling that it is not unlawful to classify people as 'homeless at home') - Roof Magazine4/9/09
- "Entrenched tolerated trespassers: where now after Porter?" - Legal Action May 2008
- "Entrenched tolerated trespassers - a way to dig them out?" - Legal Action March 2008
- "New law for the EU Homeless" - Independent Lawyer May 2007
Provides legal training to a number of organisations including South Yorkshire Housing Law Group, Local Government Group of the Law Society, NACAB and the Commission for Racial Equality, Merseyside Housing Law Practitioners Association, West Yorkshire Housing Group. Also provided training on numerous topics to North West Housing Law Practitioners Group. Speaker at National Housing Law Conference.
MEMBERSHIPS & ASSOCIATIONS
- Legal Action Group
- North West Housing Law Practitioners (co-ordinator)
- Administrative Law Bar Association