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Stephen Cottle

  • Call: 1984
Stephen Cottle
"Approachable, courteous and someone with a piercing intellect."

Chambers UK, 2019

"Razor-sharp in his observations."

Legal 500

What Others Say

LALY Award 2014


Stephen was a finalist for the Legal Aid Barrister of the Year Award 2014.

He is ranked in the Legal 500 2019 for his work in both Civil Liberties and Human Rights and Social Housing.

“Approachable, courteous and someone with a piercing intellect.”
Chambers UK 2019

“His expertise has proved invaluable and his grasp of legal issues is very impressive.”
Legal 500 2019

“He has a very sharp intellect and will fight your corner.”
Legal 500 2017

“Recommended for social housing disputes and cases involving the Traveller community.” “He acts for claimants in a range of homelessness and other cases.”
Legal 500 2016

“A leading expert in Romani Gypsy and Traveller rights cases.” “Razor-sharp in his observations.”
Legal 500 2015

“Tackles a range of social housing matters but is particularly highlighted for his work challenging the eviction of Travellers.” “His advocacy is excellent, and he does not falter.” “Has impressive all-round knowledge of many areas.”
Chambers UK 2015

“An expert in housing-related cases” and “a tenacious fighter with a razor-sharp mind.”
Legal 500 2014

“Excellent on his feet and great in his written work. He’ll take novel arguments to their conclusion.”
Chambers UK 2014


Stephen is an expert in social housing law and has an established practice at Garden Court Chambers in housing and landlord and tenant covering most areas, including:

  • Equality and discrimination issues
  • Homelessness
  • Possession claims including mortgage repossession
  • Housing standards and disrepair

Property and mobile homes

Stephen has extensive experience in the following areas:

  • Proprietary estoppel and constructive trusts
  • Adverse possession.
  • Law relating to mobile homes

Planning Law

Stephen’s work in this area includes:

  • Challenging the  grant of  planning permission based on environmental impact
  • Low impact development and community based sustainable land uses
  • Defending enforcement proceedings
  • Planning inquiries and High Court challenges under section 288 and 289
  • Gypsy and Traveller rights cases

Significant cases

A selection of Stephen’s recent significant cases can be found here:

Southern Pacific Mortgages Ltd v Jacqueline Green [2018] EWCA Civ 854

Arrears; Disability discrimination; Interest-only mortgages; Mortgages; Reasonable adjustments. The Defendant  had taken out a 20-year repayment mortgage. Arrears accrued as a result of disability. The DWP through its “Support for Mortgage Interest” scheme  met the interest payments of a person in the Defendant’s position.   The Recorder found as a fact that the interest due on the principle sum, payable by the Defendant was lower than the rate met by the DWP. She was therefore entitled to a payment that would meet the interest payment due, and more. Had the mortgage been changed to an interest only mortgage, the Defendant would have been able to meet the interest payments and paid off the arrears over a relatively short period of time. The lender issued proceedings and refused the Defendant’s requests to switch to an interest-only mortgage as its policy was not to provide such mortgages to existing repayment mortgagors. The main issue concerned the nature of the service that was being provided and whether that policy made it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of the mortgage service or put the Defendant at a substantial disadvantage. The Court  decided that  an adjustment from capital repayment to interest only would fundamentally alter the service and  the lender had not discriminated unlawfully against the borrower on account of her disability or failed to make a reasonable adjustment for her under s.21(1) of the 1995 Act or s.20 of the 2010 Act. A stay was obtained pending the outcome of an application to the Supreme Court, which has been lodged.

Uresha Adikari Mudiyanselage v The London Borough of Redbridge – B2/2016/0287

HHJ Saggerson at 1st instance in the County Court at Central London 14/12/15 accepted that the relevant considerations to deciding under section 191 of the Housing Act 1996 if the last settled accommodation was reasonable to continue to occupy, included the duty in section 11(2) of the Children Act 2004. The matter went to the Court of Appeal over the content of that duty which it was submitted required the decision maker (i) to identify the principal needs of each child and then (ii) to establish which decision would be the one that promoted the welfare of the children and why and then (iii) on the basis of those facts and matters take the decision whether it is reasonable to continue to occupy having “due regard” to the need to promote the welfare of children. Redbridge had not followed such an approach. The Single Judge in the Court of Appeal considering the matter on the papers, refused permission on the basis that a 2nd appeal was not required to establish that the observations made in Nzolameso v Westminster CC [2015] UKSC 22; [2015] H.L.R. 22 @27 in relation to section 11(2) Children Act 2004 and suitability applied (distinguishing Mohamoud v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC [2015] HLR 38 @ 63-70 & Huzrat v Hounslow LBC.) equally to whether accommodation was reasonable to continue to occupy. An underlying issue is the difference in approach between section 11(2) and compliance with Article 3 of the UNCRC, see the May 2013 UNCRC Committee Report and Article 12 of the UNCRC.

Harrington v Wallace B5/2016/0487

Permission to appeal granted on the papers by Clarke LJ against decision of HHJ Godsmark QC sitting in the County Court in Nottingham concerning a case in which the Claimant sought to enforce a charging order under CPR 73.10. The Defendant, an elderly lady, appealed on the basis that the Learned Judge erred in deciding the promissory note (on the strength of which the charging order had been obtained) did not amount to an unconscionable bargain. Lord Justice Christopher Clarke considered it appropriate for the full court to examine if the law of unconscionable bargain has been subsumed post Etridge or if unconscionable bargain is still operative and can be established where presumed undue influence can not.


R (on the application of Moore & Coates) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Bromley LBC, Dartford BC and the Equality and Human Rights Commission [2015] EWHC 44 (Admin); [2015] B.L.G.R. 405; [2015] J.P.L. 762; [2015] P.T.S.R. D14

Judicial review of the secretary of state’s practice of recovering planning appeals involving Traveller sites in the Green Belt for determination by himself. The Court granted the application because recovering all appeals relating to travellers’ pitches put ethnic Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers at a disadvantage which constituted breach of Article 6 of the ECHR, amounted to unlawful indirect discrimination under section 19 of the Equality Act 2010 and the public sector equality duty had not been complied with.

R ( Regas) v Enfield LBC [2015] H.L.R. 14; C1/2015 /0019

Acting for the local housing authority on an appeal from HHJ McKenna sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge who decided that those living and working in adjoining parts of neighbouring local authorities, that is in Waltham Forest, Barnet, Haringey, Hertsmere Welwyn Hatfield and Broxbourne, should have been consulted in relation to the proposed additional licensing of non-exempt HMO’s. The duration of consultation for proposed selective licensing was also in issue. Lord Justice Elias granted permission to appeal on the papers. However, the Council then decided that even if it won the appeal in the light of new Regulations different statutory considerations would apply.

More of Stephen’s reported cases are available here.


  • Using the Housing Act, (2004), Jordans, (co-author)
  • The Housing Law Handbook, (2009), Law Society (editor and contributor)
  • Gypsy and Traveller Law, 1st and 2nd Editions, Legal Action Group
  • Contributor to Rewriting Children’s Judgments From Academic Vision to New Practice, Hart (2017)