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Connor Johnston

  • Call: 2010
"An extremely promising junior barrister who has a huge passion for social justice and the achievement of the best possible outcome for his clients."

Chambers UK, 2019

"Vastly knowledgeable of complex eligibility issues and anti-social behaviour claims."

Legal 500, 2019

LALY 2015

Practice

Connor primarily practises in:

  • housing;
  • homelessness;
  • community care;
  • asylum support;
  • public law.

He is committed to legal aid work and to representing the interests of vulnerable clients and those who are homeless or at risk of losing their home. He is a member of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers (an organisation which he chaired jointly between 2011-2015) and a committee member of the Junior Housing Law Practitioners Association.

Connor is highlighted in Chambers UK 2018 and in the Legal 500  2017 for his social housing work, where he is described as “Very dedicated and conscientious, he is interested in pushing the law further to see how far it can be pushed to benefit our client groups.” “He is passionate and extremely knowledgeable about homelessness and public law.” “A very committed and bright barrister.”

Connor was highlighted in Chambers UK 2017 and in the Legal 500 for his social housing work, where he is described as a “recognised housing and homelessness specialist with a growing reputation for technically complex possession cases and judicial review”. In July 2015 he was named Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2015 (Newcomer category). He is the co-author of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (Jordan Publishing, 4th edition 2016).

Housing and homelessness

Connor has a busy practice which includes advising and representing tenants, occupiers and homeless persons in relation to:

  • the allocation of social housing under Part VI Housing Act 1996;
  • homelessness appeals under Part VII Housing Act 1996;
  • homelessness related judicial review;
  • possession proceedings and related appeals;
  • disrepair;
  • unlawful eviction;
  • tenancy deposits;
  • anti-social behaviour injunctions and committal proceedings.

Connor has a keen interest in the cross-over between housing and public law and is frequently instructed to act in possession proceedings raising public law, human rights and discrimination issues. He is committed to representing vulnerable clients and has been instructed by the Official Solicitor in a number of cases on behalf of client’s who lack capacity.

Connor has a particular specialism in homelessness work. He is regularly instructed in homelessness appeals and homelessness-related judicial review proceedings (on an urgent basis where necessary), and is the co-author of the fourth edition of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice together with Liz Davies and HHJ Luba QC. He is happy to take on homelessness cases in both England and Wales (under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014) and regularly provides training in this area. Recently, he has been involved in a number of appeals concerning the eligibility of migrants granted leave to remain under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules for homelessness assistance.

Connor is the author of the housing section of the Garden Court Chambers Social Welfare Law website, providing regular updates on housing and homelessness law.

Community care

Connor primarily advises and acts in judicial review proceedings relating to:

  • the provision of accommodation and support to children and care leavers under the Children Act 1989;
  • the provision of accommodation and support to vulnerable adults under the Care Act 2014.

Connor is able to draft clear, practical advice on complex issues. He is happy to undertake work on an urgent basis where required and has experience of making out-of-hours applications to the High Court.

Connor is often instructed on behalf of migrant families who are not eligible for mainstream support. He recently provided training to the Children’s Society on the restrictions on the availability of s17 Children Act 1989 to certain migrant families, which are to be introduced by the Immigration Act 2016. His article for Legal Action on the subject can be accessed here.

Connor has experience of representing trafficking victims and has an understanding of the practical and legal challenges faced by this group, when trying to obtain suitable accommodation and support.

Connor has a particular interest in those cases which involve the cross-over between Children Act and Housing Act duties. Having previously worked on the children’s legal team at the Howard League for Penal Reform, Connor is very familiar with the legal difficulties faced by care leavers and young people leaving custody.

Connor regularly provides training to solicitors and charities in these areas. Of note, he recently provided training to LawWorks advisors on the community care rights of life-limited children and their parents. In particular the duties owed to them under the Children Act 1989 and the Care Act 2014 together with eligibility for disabled facilities grants under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

Asylum support

Connor is a volunteer advocate at the First Tier Tribunal (Asylum Support) with the Asylum Support Appeals Project, representing applicants who have been refused support under s4 or s95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Connor is happy to accept instructions related to this work.

Public law

Connor’s public law practice underpins and complements his other practice areas. As well as judicial review proceedings relating to homelessness, the allocation of social housing and community care, he has a keen interest in any public law challenge on behalf of persons who find themselves without adequate accommodation or support.

He was recently instructed on behalf of Shelter in R(DA) and Others v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2017] EWHC 1446 (Admin): a successful challenge to the revised benefit cap where the High Court found the  new, lower, benefit cap to result in unlawful discrimination, in so far as it applied to lone parents with children under the age of two.

Publications

  • “Allocations: testing the boundaries” (2017) 20(1) Journal of Housing Law  7
  • “Housing difficulties for destitute migrant families unresolved” Legal Action, November 2016
  • “Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice” (Jordan Publishing, 4th edition 2016)
  • Author of the housing and homelessness section of the Garden Court Chambers Social Welfare Law website.
  • Regular column on legal aid in the Socialist Lawyer between 2011-2015.
  • Regular column on legal aid in Legal Action between 2011-2015.
  • “In defence of the human rights act – laws must change with society” Open Democracy, 30 January 2015.
  • “The absurdity of Mr Grayling’s residence test” Open Democracy, 8 July 2013.
  • Editor of Garden Court response to Transforming Legal Aid featured in (2013) 18(3) Judicial Review 336
  • “Statutory succession or common law doctrine of survivorship?” (2012) 16 Landlord & Tenant Review 194
  • “Hussein v SSHD: case note and comment” (2010) 24(1) Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law 52
  • “It’s not just asylum seekers who need to make a case for legal aid” CiF, The Guardian 17 June 2010
  • “Indefinite Immigration Detention: Can it be Justified?” (2009) 23(4) Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law 351
  • “Human rights aren’t just for cute kids” CiF, The Guardian 18 December 2009

Background

Connor has been a member of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers, a national group with around 1,700 members, since 2009. Between 2011-2015 he was the co-chair of the group and was jointly responsible for its strategic direction, co-ordinating its activities campaigning against legal aid cuts, promoting social mobility and protecting the interests of junior lawyers who believe in the importance of legally-aided work as a means of achieving social justice. He is committed to legally-aided work and has given evidence to the Justice Select Committee on the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 in the area of housing law.

Connor joined Garden Court in October 2012 following the completion of his 12-month pupillage under the supervision of Liz Davies. Before pupillage Connor worked as a member of the children’s legal team at the Howard League for Penal Reform representing young people in custody. He worked primarily with children serving life sentences. His work combined community care, prison law and criminal appeals. Connor also contributed to the policy work of the charity.

In his BVC year, Connor was the winner of the 2010 Inner Temple Lawson moot judged by Lord Justice Munby. He was also awarded an Exhibition and Duke of Edinburgh Scholarship by the Inner Temple. Prior to this, Connor studied law at the University of Sheffield. He now sits on the Law School’s advisory board. While in Sheffield he volunteered as an advisor at the Pitsmoor Citizens Advice Bureau dealing with debt, immigration, social security and housing. He also acted as a refugee mentor at the Northern Refugee Centre.

Interests

An avid runner, Connor has run 13 marathons and has a personal best of 2 hrs 43 mins. He ran his first Ultra Marathon in June 2013 – a 69 mile, one-day event from Carlisle to Newcastle along Hadrian’s Wall. He is an active member of East End running club the Victoria Park Harriers.

 

 

Profile last updated: July 2017

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