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Connor Johnston

Year of Call: 2010

"A great legal mind, great client skills and is very good at raising and progressing a case."

Chambers UK, 2021 (Social Housing)

"Connor is my first-choice barrister in this area. He has a vast amount of knowledge of homelessness law for someone who is still relatively junior. He is very diligent, hard-working and committed to this area of law."

Legal 500, 2021 (Social Housing)

"Thinks through all the issues in the case and knows the law like the back of his hand."

Legal 500, 2020

"He is thorough, insightful, and gets to the heart of the case with full consideration of the details surrounding it. Extremely knowledgeable and analytical."

Chambers UK, 2020

"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

Contact

To get in touch:​ Or you can contact the relevant​ Practice Team Clerks directly and they will be happy to assist with your enquiry.

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Legal 500 2022: Leading Junior

Connor primarily practises in housing, homelessness, community care, asylum support and 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 was appointed to the EHRC panel of preferred counsel in 2019.

Connor currently writes regularly for the Garden Court Chambers Social Welfare Updates Blog.

Housing Law

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 is regularly instructed in homelessness appeals and homelessness-related judicial review proceedings. As the co-author of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (Lexis, 5th edition 2018) he is regarded as a specialist in this area. He was instructed on behalf of the interveners, Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group, in the Supreme Court case of Samuels v Birmingham City Council [2019] UKSC 28, the leading case on affordability and intentional homelessness. He also acted for Shelter in the case of Al-Ahmed v Tower Hamlets LBC [2020] EWCA Civ 51, the leading case on late homelessness appeals.

Connor has a keen interest in the crossover between housing and public law and is frequently instructed to act in possession proceedings raising public law, human rights and discrimination issues. He is regularly instructed, on behalf of the Official Solicitor, to represent clients who lack capacity, particularly in cases which have a community care element. He was appointed to the EHRC panel of preferred counsel in 2019.

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Community Care Law

Connor 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.
  • the provision of asylum support under Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and support for those on immigration bail under Immigration Act 2016.

Connor often works on behalf of migrant families who have no recourse to public funds, as well as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and other children and care leavers who require local authority accommodation or support. He has represented trafficking victims and understands the particular challenges survivors face when trying to obtain accommodation and support.

Many of his Care Act cases involve concurrent possession proceedings and often relate to clients who lack capacity where the Official Solicitor is involved.

Connor has been a volunteer advocate at the First-Tier Tribunal (Asylum Support) with the Asylum Support Appeals Project for a number of years, representing applicants who have been refused support under s4 or s95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. He brings this experience to bear in his judicial review practice which encompasses challenges to delay, dispersal and adequacy of accommodation, among other things.

Connor has a particular interest in cases that involve the interplay between community care, housing, homelessness and asylum support. He is currently co-authoring the forthcoming Migrant Support Handbook for LAG, together with Shu Shin Luh and a number of contributors from Garden Court and Garden Court North. Publication is expected in 2022.

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Administrative and 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, asylum support 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 acted on behalf of the intervener, Shelter, in the Supreme Court challenge to the legality of the benefit cap, in R (DA and other) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2019] UKSC 21 and in the High Court case of R (Ncube) v Brighton and Hove [2021] EWHC 578 (Admin) relating to the provision of accommodation for rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Notable Cases & News

High Court rules on access to emergency accommodation during pandemic to people usually ineligible for support

Liz Davies, Adrian Berry and Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Chambers Housing Team were instructed to represent Shelter.

11 March 2021

Settled accommodation – Doka revisited

Blog by Connor Johnston. Liz Davies and Nick Bano of the Garden Court Housing Team acted for the Respondent Ms Broderick.

15 December 2020

No “temporal leeway” in considering out of borough placement

Blog by Connor Johnston. Ed Fitzpatrick and Sophie Caseley of the Garden Court Housing Team acted for the Respondent Ms Broderick.

15 December 2020

Crisis unveils draft emergency legislation to end rough sleeping and homelessness

Adrian Berry, Liz Davies and Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Housing Team worked with Crisis to draft the legislation.

1 July 2020

Crisis unveils draft emergency legislation to end rough sleeping and homelessness

Adrian Berry, Liz Davies and Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Housing Team worked with Crisis to draft the legislation.

1 July 2020

Adult social care in the health crisis ​- Webinar on 3 April 2020

28 April 2020

Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (LexisNexis 5th ed. 2018) now available free of charge

HHJ Jan Luba QC, Liz Davies, Connor Johnston and Tessa Buchanan are pleased to announce that Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (LexisNexis 5th edition 2018) is now available as a pdf free of charge.

16 April 2020

Court of Appeal provides important guidance on late homelessness appeals, recognising the “difficulties faced by homelessness applicants in bringing an appeal… without legal advice and representation”

Liz Davies and Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Housing Team were instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, on behalf of the intervener Shelter. They all acted pro bono.

30 January 2020

Landmark Supreme Court ruling on criteria for affordability of accommodation and intentional homelessness

Shu Shin Luh and Connor Johnston of Garden Court were instructed on behalf of the interveners Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group.

12 June 2019

15 members of Garden Court Chambers appointed to Equality and Human Rights Commission Panel of Counsel

Stephanie Harrison QC, Amanda Weston QC, Bethan Harris, Liz Davies, Grace Brown, Timothy Baldwin, Mark Symes, Joanne Cecil, Stephen Marsh, Anthony Vaughan, Shu Shin Luh, Connor Johnston, Gráinne Mellon, Tessa Buchanan and Miranda Butler.

16 May 2019

Home Office publishes additional guidance on how to access Schedule 10 accommodation

MSM was represented by Anthony Vaughan and Connor Johnston of Garden Court Chambers.

9 May 2019

Housing Allocation and Homelessness Law & Practice Fifth edition now published

The textbook was written by His Honour Judge Jan Luba QC, Liz Davies, Connor Johnston and Tessa Buchanan.

15 August 2018

Garden Court Long Term Mentoring Scheme wins Chambers Diversity Initiative of the Year at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017

Mia Hakl-Law, Head of Operations & HR, pioneered the mentoring scheme in conjunction with Garden Court's Leslie Thomas QC and Connor Johnston.

30 November 2017

The Garden Court Chambers Housing Team respond to the consultation of Terms of Reference of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry has called for responses to the consultation of Terms of Reference.

3 August 2017

Revised benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against lone parents with children under two, High Court rules

Shu Shin Luh and Connor Johnston were instructed by Freshfields Bruckhause Deringer for the intervener, Shelter.

22 June 2017

Garden Court and Stephanie Harrison QC shortlisted for Human Rights and Public Law awards

Garden Court has been shortlisted at the Chambers Bar Awards, whilst Stephanie and our Public Law Team are shortlisted at the Legal 500 Awards.

21 October 2016

Hot off the press – fourth edition of Housing Allocation and Homelessness

The book is co-authored by Liz Davies and Connor Johnston with door tenant and Circuit Judge HHJ Jan Luba QC.

8 June 2016

Chambers UK Bar Guide ranks Garden Court in Band 1

Garden Court Chambers recognised as a leading set for immigration, social housing, civil liberties, police law, Court of Protection, crime and inquests and public inquiries.

30 October 2015

Connor Johnston wins Legal Aid Newcomer award at the 2015 LALY Awards

Garden Court Chambers’ Connor Johnston has been awarded the Legal Aid Newcomer award.

2 July 2015

Connor Johnston gives evidence to Justice Select Committee

Housing practitioners ask Committee to consider reinstating legal aid to assist with certain housing benefit problems.

21 October 2014

Successful outcomes in linked disrepair claims demonstrate the importance of preserving Legal Aid for housing cases

Tim Baldwin and Connor Johnston have successfully represented the claimant in two linked housing disrepair cases involving substantial damages. Of concern is that cases like this now probably lie outside the scope of legal aid.

29 January 2014

All related news

Social Welfare Updates

Napier barracks not ‘adequate’ accommodation for asylum-seekers

Sonali Naik QC and Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers represented interveners JCWI. Blog post by Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Chambers Community Care Team.

1 July 2021

Social Welfare Update: Security of tenure for person accommodated by local authority under Everyone In

Blog post by Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Housing Team. R (Abudah Ali Ibrahim) v Haringey LBC and Capital Home Services Ltd [2021] EWHC 731 (QB), 30 March 2021

30 April 2021

Social Welfare Update: Circumstances in which court will grant mandatory order requiring local authority to provide ‘suitable’ accommodation

Blog post by Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Housing Team. R (Imam) v The London Borough of Croydon [2021] EWHC 739 (Admin), 26 March 2021

30 April 2021

Social Welfare Update: Local authority powers to accommodate rough sleepers during the pandemic

30 April 2021

Social Welfare Update: Repeat homelessness applications and local connection

R (Minott) v Cambridge City Council (2021) EWHC 211 (Admin)

26 February 2021

Social Welfare Update: Breach of Public Sector Equality Duty in bringing possession proceedings cured by subsequent compliance

Taylor v Slough BC [2020] EWHC 3520 (Ch)

26 February 2021

Social Welfare Update: No “temporal leeway” in considering out of borough placement

Blog by Connor Johnston. Ed Fitzpatrick and Sophie Caseley of the Garden Court Housing Team acted for the Respondent Ms Broderick.

23 December 2020

Social Welfare Update: Settled accommodation – Doka revisited

Blog by Connor Johnston. Liz Davies and Nick Bano of the Garden Court Housing Team acted for the Respondent Ms Broderick.

23 December 2020

Social Welfare Update: Overcrowding caused by children getting older not a “deliberate act” for purposes of housing allocation

Blog by Connor Johnston of the Garden Court Housing Team. Ed Fitzpatrick of the Garden Court Housing Team represented Mr Flores.

23 December 2020

Social Welfare Update: The Care Act 2014 easements: where are we now?

Connor Johnson and Tessa Buchanan of the Garden Court Community Care Team have prepared this update on the application of the Care Act 2014 easements.

29 October 2020

Social Welfare Update: Vulnerability and medical evidence

Guiste v Lambeth LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 1758, 22 October 2019

29 October 2019

Social Welfare Update: Discrimination arguments in homelessness appeals

Adesotu v Lewisham LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 1405, 2 August 2019

28 October 2019

Social Welfare Update: Notice requirements in ground 15A cases

Yildiz v Hackney LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 133, 24 July 2019

28 October 2019

Social Welfare Update: Discharge of homelessness duties

R (SH) v Waltham Forest BC [2019] EWHC 2618 (Admin), 11 October 2019

28 October 2019

Social Welfare Update: PSED and possession proceedings

Forward v Aldwyck Housing Group Limited [2019] EWCA Civ 1334, 29 July 2019

23 October 2019

Social Welfare Update: PSED and possession claims

London and Quadrant Housing Trust v Patrick [2019] EWHC 1263 (QB), 23 May 2019

16 July 2019

Social Welfare Update: Affordability of accommodation and intentional homelessness

Samuels v Birmingham City Council [2019] UKSC 28, 12 June 2019

16 July 2019

Social Welfare Update: Prioritisation of orthodox Jewish community in allocating social housing did not result in unlawful discrimination

R (Z) v Hackney LBC and Agudas Israel Housing Association [2019] EWCA Civ 1099, 27 June 2019

16 July 2019

Social Welfare Update: Application of notice requirement under s21(1B) Housing Act 1988 during probationary period of AST

Livewest Homes Ltd v Bamber [2019] EWCA Civ 1174, 10 July 2019

16 July 2019

Social Welfare Update: Children Act 1989 s17 - flawed assessment of destitution

R (JA, GA, and EF (by their mother/aunt and litigation friend AA) v Bexley LBC [2019] EWHC 130 (Admin), 1 February 2019

28 May 2019

Social Welfare Update: Looking to the future when considering whether applicant homeless at home, and procedural fairness in review process

Safi v Sandwell MBC [2018] EWCA Civ 2876, 21 December 2018

28 May 2019

Social Welfare Update: 10-year residence requirement in allocation scheme discriminatory

Ward v Hillingdon LBC; Gullu v Hillingdon LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 692, 16 April 2019

23 April 2019

Social Welfare Update: Occupation agreement with homeless applicant did not attract security of tenure

Mohamed v Barnet LBC [2019] EWHC 1012 (QB), 17 April 2019

23 April 2019

Social Welfare Update: Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and possession proceedings (2)

Powell v Dacorum BC [2019] EWCA 23, 24 January 2019

31 January 2019

Social Welfare Update: Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and possession proceedings (1)

Forward v Aldwyck Housing Group Limited [2019] EWHC 24 (QB), 11 January 2019

30 January 2019

Section 21: validity of notice served by head landlord on sub-tenant

Barrow and Amey v Kazim, Kazim and Mustafa  [2018] EWCA Civ 2414, 17 October 2018

17 December 2018

Article 8 and private landlords

FJM v United Kingdon, European Court of Human Rights (First Section) Application no. 76202/16, 29 November 2018

17 December 2018

Conditions imposed under HMO licence can be used to limit the class of persons for whom property is suitable

Nottingham City Council v Parr [2018] UKSC 51

15 October 2018

Application of notice requirement under s21(1B) Housing Act 1988 during probationary period of AST

Livewest Homes Ltd v Bamber [2018] EWHC 2454 (QB), 27 September 2018

15 October 2018

Who is an ‘aggrieved’ person for the purposes of EPA proceedings?

Watkins v Aged Merchant Seamen's Homes and Historic Property Restoration Limited [2018] EWHC 2410 (Admin), 17 April 2018

15 October 2018

Application of public sector equality duty to whether accommodation ‘reasonable to continue to occupy’

Lomax v Gosport BC [2018] EWCA Civ 1846, 01 August 2018

5 September 2018

Circumstances in which local authority may reconsider homelessness decision

R (Sambotin) v London Borough of Brent [2018] EWCA Civ 1826, 31 July 2018

4 September 2018

All social welfare updates

Background

Connor was a member of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers between 2009-2020. Between 2011-2015 he co-chaired the group and was jointly responsible for its activities campaigning against legal aid cuts, promoting social mobility and protecting the interests of junior lawyers who believe in legally aided work as a means of achieving social justice.

Before joining Garden Court in October 2012, Connor worked as a member of the children's legal team at the Howard League for Penal Reform, representing young people in custody, including children serving life sentences.

Connor originally studied mathematics as an undergraduate at the University of Birmingham. But he later undertook an MA Law conversion course while living in Sheffield. During his time in Sheffield he volunteered at the Pitsmoor Citizens Advice Bureau and the Northern Refugee Centre.

Publications

Author of the housing and homelessness section of the Garden Court Chambers Social Welfare Law website.

Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (co-author) Lexis, 6th edition 2021 (forthcoming)

‘“Everyone In”: R. (on the application of Ncube) v Brighton & Hove City Council’ (2021) 24(4) Journal of Housing Law 80

‘The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017: one year on’ Legal Action, Jul/Aug 2019

‘Accommodation needs of vulnerable young families’ (2018) 48 (Apr) Family Law 368

‘Revised benefit cap unlawful for lone parents with children under two’ Legal Action, Jul/Aug 2017

'Allocations: testing the boundaries' (2017) 20(1) Journal of Housing Law 7

'Housing difficulties for destitute migrant families unresolved' Legal Action, November 2016

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

Training and Seminars

Connor regularly provides training to solicitors, charities, Parliamentary caseworkers and others across his areas of expertise, as well as speaking at seminars and conferences. Most recently in 2021 he has spoken on migrant support at the LAG community care conference, delivered seminars on the homelessness eligibility rules post-Brexit and the accommodation rights of migrant children with special educational needs, and provided bespoke training to Parliamentary caseworkers on homelessness and anti-social behaviour.

Interests

Formerly a keen rock climber and mountaineer, Connor took up running when he moved to London. He is now an enthusiastic runner and has completed 15 marathons with a personal best of 2 hrs 43 mins. He is a member of East End running club the Victoria Park Harriers. He completed his first triathlon in 2019 and hopes to do a few more if lockdown ever ends…

Education

  • BSc (Hons) Mathematics - University of Birmingham
  • MA Law - University of Sheffield

Professional Membership

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