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Connor Johnston

Year of Call: 2010

"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

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

Legal 500, 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

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

Legal 500, 2019

"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."

Chambers UK, 2018

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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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.

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 are not eligible for mainstream support. He has represented trafficking victims and understands the challenges victims face when trying to obtain accommodation and support.

He has been instructed in a number of cases, on behalf of the Official Solicitor, to represent clients who lack capacity, particularly in cases which involve concurrent possession proceedings.

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 accepts instructions in related matters including judicial review challenges to delays in the provision of accommodation by the Home Office. In 2019, he was instructed on behalf of the Claimant MSM, a homeless Syrian asylum-seeker, in a challenge to the absence of any adequate policy or application process to allow destitute migrants to access support under Immigration Act 2016 Sch 10. The Home Office published new guidance catering for those in MSM's position in April 2019, shortly before the High Court was due to hear the challenge.

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 other contributors from Garden Court and Garden Court North. Publication is expected later in 2020.

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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. Shelter's intervention focused on the difficulty faced by families, affected by the cap, in accessing affordable accommodation.

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Background

Connor has been a member of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers since 2009. 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

Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (co-author) Lexis, 5th edition 2018

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

'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 and others. In particular, in 2019-20, he has provided training and seminars on:

  • the impact on the Coronavirus Act 2020 on the services which local authorities need to provide to vulnerable adults under the Care Act 2014, to a number of solicitors firms;
  • housing and community care rights for 18-25 year olds, at the Youth Legal conference;
  • homelessness law and anti-social behaviour, to MPs and caseworkers at the House of Commons;
  • community care law for immigration practitioners, for the Immigration Law Practitioners association;
  • current issues in homelessness law to students at the RebLaw and Young Legal Aid Lawyers/Public Law Project conferences;
  • the latest housing and homelessness case law, to solicitors and barristers at various conferences and seminars organised by the Housing Law Practitioners Association, LAG and Garden Court Chambers;
  • migrant support, at the LAG community care and Legal Aid at 70 conferences.

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…

Latest News

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

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Education

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

Professional Membership

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