Absolute understanding of the law and policy in his area of practice. Drafts beautifully and concisely. A pleasure to work with... Legal 500, 2021
Tom specialises in immigration, housing, mental capacity and social security law. He won a Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award in 2017, was shortlisted as the Legal 500 Regional Junior of the Year in 2019, was a Times Lawyer of the Week in 2020, and has been listed for some years in both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500.
He has appeared seven times in the UK Supreme Court, and has experience of international litigation in the CJEU and ECSR. Most of his work is in tribunals, the county court and the Administrative Court.
Tom is often instructed in test cases about systemic problems with how the state treats individuals. Those cases have, for example, established that:
Tom was educated at state schools, then Cambridge, where he studied History and was a college scholar. Before coming to the Bar in 2012, he worked in citizens advice bureaux and a law centre, and as a primary school teacher. He was the Sheila McKechnie Foundation UK Consumer Campaigner of the Year 2009. He also established the Yorkshire Tribunal Advocacy Project, which provides pro bono representation in social security tribunals.
Tom works hard to find practical and creative solutions in disputes between people and the state, especially when the odds seem stacked against his client.
His main field is social security, in which he has appeared in a large proportion of the most significant cases litigated in the UK in recent years, but he has acted in successful public law challenges across a very broad range of work, including education, housing, statutory complaints procedures, council tax, social care and immigration.
Tom is cases editor of the Journal of Social Security Law, and has been a contributing author to several successful practitioners’ books. He is ranked in Tier 1 of the Legal 500 directory for his public law expertise.
Tom appears regularly in the First-tier Tribunal, Upper Tribunal and High Court and has also acted in test cases on immigration law in both the Supreme Court and CJEU. He has particular interest in cases involving children and family life, or claimants whose health would be affected by removal from the UK.
Tom is ranked in Tier 1 of the Legal 500 directory for his immigration and asylum law expertise. He is a contributing author to the forthcoming LAG migrants’ rights handbook.
Tom has acted in housing and homelessness work throughout his career. His reported cases in this area span a range of issues, from intentional homelessness, to unlawful eviction, to tenancy deposit law, to eligibility for homelessness assistance.
He has particular expertise with cases raising disability discrimination defences and counterclaims, and problems arising out of capacity issues or a crossover between community care and housing law, where he is often instructed by the Official Solicitor.
Tom’s expertise in social security law often proves invaluable in tackling cases where there are substantial rent arrears.
Tom defends anti-social behaviour injunctions, gang injunctions, and other injunctive or contempt proceedings in the County Court and High Court. He has a particular interest in using human rights arguments to challenge inadequate disclosure.
In the Court of Protection, Tom is frequently instructed in deprivation of liberty and in welfare cases, especially where there are difficult issues about challenges to care assessments and/or parallel housing law litigation.
His expertise in social security law is useful in cases where there are side issues about whether claimants are receiving the appropriate benefits.
Tom also specialises in public law challenges to a range of procedural community care law issues, for example charging, delay, and failure to assess need.
Tom brings his expertise in discrimination law 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. He enjoys litigation but is also experienced in bringing cases to successful conclusion through negotiation or mediation.
He is on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s specialist counsel panel. He has published a series of articles on discrimination law in both practitioners’ and peer-reviewed academic journals.
This link (to the open-access Bailii website) lists most of Tom’s reported cases. Some further examples are:
R (Kauser and JL) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (CO/987/2020, 7 October 2020) Lawfulness of policy excluding disabled students from access to UC by refusing to conduct work capability assessments. Conceded by SSWP with costs after grant of permission. [Media coverage]
R (S) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (CO/1051/2020) Emergency challenge to failure to pay benefit to a destitute person. Conceded by SSWP with costs shortly after issue.
R (Lesser) v Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (CO/185/2020) Procedural fairness in judicial complaint investigation. Conceded by JCIO with costs after grant of permission.
Case 121/2016 Equal Rights Trust v Bulgaria (ECSR, 2019) New Bulgarian social welfare legislation held unlawfully discriminatory on race and gender grounds, and incompatible with Bulgaria’s international and law obligations towards children under Art 16 of the Revised European Social Charter.
R (X) v Cornwall Council (CO/2180/2019) Restructuring of education provision caused unlawful failure to comply with educational provision rights of large number of disabled young adults. Case conceded by LA with costs after permission hearing. [Media coverage]
DG v Liverpool City Council  RA 259 (VTE, Dickie VP) Whether Valuation Tribunal can hear merits appeal against local authority’s refusal to exercise discretion to waive CT liability.
HS v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKAITUR PA037602018 (23 April 2020) Risks for undocumented person in Iraq.
LM v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKAITUR HU093792018 (25 June 2019) Art 3 risks on removal for deportee with mental health problems.
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.
Hassan v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKAITUR DA007352013 (McCloskey P, 11 April 2014) Test for exclusion from international protection; application of Refugee Convention test in humanitarian protection context.
Secretary of State for the Home Department v Naitini  UKAITUR DA009962013 (9 December 2013) Art 8 and automatic deportation. Relevance of military service for UK in Art 8 balance.
X v University of Y (Mediation) 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) 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) 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) 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) Settlement on terms that Trust pay damages, following multi day PHR in which ET found X was a disabled person.
SZ v Manchester City Council (High Court) Mandatory order at emergency hearing, requiring authority to accommodate homeless person.
Selivona v Sandwell MBC (County Court) 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.
Begache v Noreen  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.
Seale v Armitage Residential (County Court) 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. [Media coverage]
Waliezada v Dickson  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.
New Charter Homes v TB (County Court) Housing association’s application for injunction order (on ground of alleged drug use) defeated at trial with costs, after cross-examination of HA witnesses.
Chief Constable of Lancashire Police v Wilson & ors (County Court) 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.
R (Z) v A Local Authority LA adopted unlawful policy on education transport arrangements and ceased funding arrangements for Z. On receipt of pre-action correspondence, LA restored Z’s funding and withdrew its policy.
Case law editor, Journal of Social Security Law.
Contributing author, Migrant support handbook (LAG, forthcoming, 2021).
Contributing author, Justice Matters (LAG, 2020).
Contributing author, Legal Aid Matters (LAG, 2019).
‘Use it or lose it – welfare benefits’ [October 2015] Legal Action 19.
‘Obtaining exceptional funding under LASPO’ [August 2014] Family Law.
‘How to expedite a social security appeal’ (2013) 235 CPAG Welfare Rights Bulletin 9.
‘Making the polluter pay – costs in tribunal litigation’ (2012) 7496 New Law Journal 47.
‘Treating volunteers as “members of an association” and the implications for English discrimination law’ (2012) 12 International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 5.
‘From nought to support: setting up a volunteer-based tribunal advocacy scheme’ (2012) 154 Adviser 10.
‘Agency workers and discrimination law: Muschett v HM Prison Service’ (2011) 40 Industrial Law Journal 92.
Tom’s privacy notice is here.
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