Bethan Harris

Year of Call: 1990

"Always exceptional, even with the most challenging of clients. She is tenacious and spots the subtle points that are sometimes overlooked."

Chambers UK, 2019 (Social Housing)

"She's very good at dealing with challenging clients and she's really good in exceptionally difficult cases."

Chambers UK, 2019 (Community Care)

"She has a really good attention to detail and can deal with nuanced issues very well. When you've got a complex case with many issues, she's good because she leaves no stone unturned."

Chambers UK, 2018 (Court of Protection)

"She has a subtlety of mind and ability to deal with a great breadth of issues. She puts her all into cases"

Chambers UK

"She clearly garners the respect of her colleagues and the judiciary"

Legal 500 2016 (Social Housing)

Contact Bethan

If you would like to get in touch with Bethan please contact the clerking team:

+44 (0)20 7993 7600

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Bethan Harris is an experienced practitioner specialising in housing law, community care law and Court of Protection. She appears in the courts at all levels. She is a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's panel of counsel.

Housing Law

Overview

Bethan's housing work includes homelessness appeals, judicial review, Children Act 1989, housing benefit, Equality Act 2010 issues, mental capacity and housing, and cases involving both housing and community care law. She recently appeared for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to obtain and injunction against a landlord's unlawful lettings policy (EHRC v Wilson).

Notable Cases

Equality and Human Rights Commission v Wilson, HHJ Polden 8 November 2017 represented the Commission to obtain an injunction to restrain a landlord from having a policy not to let to certain racial groups.

Hillsden v Epping Forest District Council [2015] EWHC 98 (Admin): whether local authorities have a residual discretion to allocate social housing outside their normal rules

Toynbee Housing Association v Choudhury, Clerkenwell County Court, 2 February 2011, Legal Action, May 2011, 35: successful appeal against a court order for eviction of a disabled tenant and her family due to the drug related behaviour of her son

Stephens v Kerr [2006] HLR 21 CA: tenant with Rent Act 1977 security retained her protected status despite prolonged absence from dwelling

Southwark LBC v Long [2002] HLR 56 CA: council's obligations to maintain common parts of council estate

Lambeth LBC v Howard [2001] 33 HLR 58 CA: case on the relevance of Art 8 in possession proceedings brought by local authority on grounds of anti-social behaviour

Hammersmith & Fulham v Clarke [2001] 33 HLR 77 CA: elderly tenant retained security of her council tenancy after moving into residential care

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Community Care Law

Overview

Bethan's work in community care includes assessments and service delivery issues such as direct payments; personal budgets, and eligibility criteria; accommodation issues; delivery of services to people who lack mental capacity; charging; children in need; carers' assessments; Equality Act issues, disability adaptations, safeguarding and human rights duties of public bodies to vulnerable adults.

She wrote and appears in the webinar, Care Act 2014 Part 1: What practitioners need to know, produced by Practical Law. She is an editor of the Community Care Law Reports.

Notable Cases

R (E) v Walsall Council, Administrative Court, 10 December 2013 (HHJ Plunkett): she represented a child, E, in a claim for judicial review which established that E's placement with her grandparents, following child protection concerns, was under s 20 Children Act 1989; the grandparents were therefore entitled to the foster care allowance

R (G) v LB Barnet [2001] EWHC Admin 5: availability of assistance under s 17 Children Act 1989 for child in need and its mother who was not habitually resident in the UK)

CIS 3325/00 [2001] UKSSCSC CIS_3325_2000 (3 August 2001): social security commissioner appeal on entitlement of people with severe learning disabilities to income support after transfer from hospital care to nursing home care

De Silva v Social Security Commissioner [2001] EWCA Civ 539: Social Security Appeal Tribunal's duty to make accurate record of proceedings

R (Patrick) v Newham LBC (2000) 4 CCLR 48: local authority's duty to conduct community care assessment for person with mental illness living rough: when duty triggered and requirements of a lawful assessment

LB Haringey v Jowett [2000] 32 HLR 308: Environmental Protection Act 1990 and noise nuisance caused by traffic

Bate v Chief Adjudication Officer [1996] 1 WLR 814 HL: anti-test case rules in social security law

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Court of Protection

Overview

Bethan appears frequently in the Court of Protection. Her work includes emergency applications, deprivation of liberty issues, local authority safeguarding duties, personal welfare applications, contested appointments of financial/health and welfare deputies, complex care packages. She covers some property and financial affairs matters. Bethan acts for litigation friends, local authorities and family members.

Notable Cases

Re X and others (Deprivation of Liberty) [2014] EWCOP 25; and [2014] EWCOP 37: represented one of the local authorities in this Court of Protection litigation which determined the procedure for court-authorised deprivation of liberty following the expansion of the concept following the UKSC ruling in Cheshire West.

Islington LBC v QR [2014] EWCOP 26: represented a person challenging an assessment that she lacked capacity and whether in her best interests to move to supported living; establishing that the person retained litigation capacity despite not having subject-matter capacity. Judgment contains detailed guidance on capacity to make decisions to enter a supported living tenancy.

ACCG and ACC v MN [2013] EWHC 3859 (COP) (Mrs Justice King): acted for the Official Solicitor in relation to the care and residence of a young man with autism and severe epilepsy; a central issue was whether there was a choice between "available options" when the local authority refused to provide them. (This is the first instance decision in ACCG v MN, UKSC.)

An NHS Trust v Mrs P and Ms P [2013] EWHC 50 COP (Hedley J): represented the mother of a young woman with learning difficulties in an application to determine capacity and best interests in relation to whether the young woman, who was at risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, should have a termination or continue with her pregnancy.

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Background

Bethan has briefed MPs and drafted amendments for pressure groups on housing and social security legislation. She has worked in Kosovo and Macedonia, documenting human rights violations for Physicians for Human Rights, and visited Montenegro to speak to lawyers on behalf of the Bar Human Rights Committee. She contributed to submissions to the Law Commission and Parliamentary Select Committee on Human Rights on reform of the law on deprivation of liberty in care settings of people lacking mental capacity.

Bethan comes from South Wales and speaks Welsh. She has appeared on Welsh language TV and radio on many occasions, commenting on current legal affairs.

Publications

Bethan is an editor of the Community Care Law Reports. She co-authors the regular Housing Benefit Update in the Legal Action Magazine. She contributes to the monthly updates on the Garden Court Chambers social welfare law website.

Training and Seminars

Bethan frequently speaks at seminars for practitioners for relevant practitioner organisations or at Garden Court Chambers.

In January 2015 she provided a webinar, Care Act 2014 Part 1: What practitioners need to know (January 2015), produced by Practical Law.

Education

  • BA (Oxon), LLM (LSE)

Professional Membership

  • Housing Law Practitioners' Association
  • Administrative Law Bar Association
  • Founding member of the Social Security Law Practitioners' Association
  • Liberty
  • Court of Protection Practitioners' Association

Languages

  • Welsh

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