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Public and Administrative Law Disputes

Public and Administrative law impacts all sectors of commercial and private life, from individuals to multi-nationals

Whether you are a foreign government seeking a determination from the Privy Council, a corporate challenging a multi-million pound procurement award, or an individual fighting to protect your own rights and interests, we have specialists with the experience to support you. 

This is an area currently undergoing a profound period of reform. The impact of the pandemic on parliamentary procedure has also seen significant growth in judicial review around public procurement and the associated award of contracts. The regulatory impact of Brexit and the trade agreements that are being negotiated will provide a new and changing landscape for business for many years to come. The Judicial Review Bill, following on from the Independent Review of Administrative Law promises to be one of the most important aspects of “constitutional plumbing” in this area since the introduction of the Human Rights Act. We have the expertise to offer specialist advice on how such changes may affect you and suggest tailored solutions to the complex issues that you are facing.

Our team combines dedicated litigators, Max Davis and Stephanie Duncan, practical knowledge of the Administrative Court, Privy Council and other specialist tribunals, and industry-recognised subject matter experts in fields including:

Competition

Disputes in this area arise following decisions made by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Ofcom and other regulatory bodies. We have considerable experience advising on the challenge of these decisions including the judicial review or quasi-judicial review elements.

We can also advise you in relation to the government’s power to intervene in mergers under the Enterprise Act 2002. Those interventions include Public Interest Merger Reference (Pre-emptive Action) Orders that can prevent a transaction on the grounds of national security, among other things. In this connection, we also have experience of challenging associated injunctions and negotiating with the Government Legal Department to secure mutually agreeable ways forward on your behalf.

For more information, contact Paul Stone or visit our competition page

Environmental and Planning

Issues can arise in this area following decisions by:

  • Local planning authorities (including the grant of planning permission and certificates of lawfulness).
  • The Secretary of State (including in relation to planning appeals, local plan making and highways orders).

We can advise you on the judicial review and statutory review of such decisions.

Where decisions made have an impact on third parties such as landowners and developers, we will devise an appropriate strategy, including on representations before decisions are made, pre-action protocol correspondence, claim management and costs.

We also help developers and landowners defend legal challenges to decisions, ensuring that a robust case is made irrespective of the case being put forward by the original decision maker. Our work includes challenges to unsuccessful appeal decisions where the Secretary of State or an inspector has erred in law.

Common areas of challenge include NPPF policies, environmental impact assessment, habitats and decision-making processes and procedures.

For more information, contact Claire Fallows or visit our planning and environment page.

Foreign Governments

From governments to international corporations across the Commonwealth, we can advise you on a wide variety of areas including judicial review, extraditions, trials and international arbitrations. Our experience in this area is vast, holding relationships with several Caribbean jurisdictions for over 100 years.

In addition to this, we also can assist you with appellate litigation with a particular focus on appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

For more information, contact John Almeida or Camilla Hart.

Immigration

Private individuals and employers each experience different challenges when dealing with Home Office decisions.

If you are a private individual, we can help you challenge decisions relating to all aspects of the Points Based System for visas, refusals of indefinite leave to remain applications, refusals of applications for entry clearance and refusals of settled status applications under the EU Settlement Scheme arising from Brexit.

Whereas, on behalf of employers, we work alongside you to challenge a range of issues including suspensions and revocation of Skilled Worker sponsor licences.

For more information, contact Rose Carey or visit our immigration page.

Pensions and Tax

HMRC has significant powers of enforcement in respect of a wide variety of personal and corporate taxes, charges and levies, both current and historic.

We can advise you on the possibility of challenging HMRC decisions by way of judicial review, including in particular where HMRC are seeking to resile from their published guidance or a previous ruling. This includes advising on how a claim for judicial review should be brought alongside any associated proceedings in the tax tribunals. In certain contexts, judicial review may also be an appropriate method to challenge HMRC’s increasing use of information notices.

In a pensions context, we can help you by advising potential challenges to the Pensions Regulator/PPF requests pursuant to sections 72 and 191 Pensions Act 2004 (information/disclosure requests).

For more information, contact Michael Jones (pensions queries) or Hugh Gunson (tax concerns).

Alternatively, visit our Pensions or Tax pages

Public Inquiries and Inquests

The nature of public inquiries can be very intrusive and can leave you vulnerable to public scrutiny. We work closely with you in these difficult circumstances to offer advice and support. 

We have an experienced cross-practice and cross-sector team who can represent you in both public inquiries (a body established to identify and/or attribute blame) and inquests (a body established to determine cause). We have been involved in some of the largest and most high profile cases in the last decade, including both the Leveson and Hillsborough inquiries.

In particular, the team has extensive experience acting in high profile, complex and sensitive judicial review proceedings.

Members of the team support pro bono initiatives including assisting Windrush victims to apply for compensation, appealing disability benefit decisions and providing training and support for asylum seekers in the Greek Islands of Lesvos and Samos.

For more information, please contact Duncan Lamont.

Some notable cases

  • Acting for a postal services provider in two connected Judicial Reviews that challenged the scope of a VAT exemption on postal services imposed by HMRC.
  • Judicial review of immigration decisions to refuse leave to remain or detention.
  • Judicial review of a local council’s decision not to award a gaming licence.
  • Judicial review against Environmental Management Agency in relation to the construction of a highway.
  • Judicial review against the Minister of Planning, Housing and Environment for their decision to amend the water pollution regulations.
  • Judicial review of appointments to the Police Service Commission.
  • Judicial Review application challenging Animal and Plant Health Agency’s decision not to grant a retrospective import permit.
  • Judicial review of the Home Office’s decision to sanction a horseracing body.
  • Challenging a decision relating to a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Instructed on behalf of the intervener in the first case involving an appeal to the Supreme Court of an Ofcom decision in the telecommunications sector.
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