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Matthew Ahluwalia

Year of Call: 2015

Matthew is a social welfare and public law barrister. He has particular interest and experience in housing, homelessness, public law, welfare benefits, and migrants’ rights.

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Prior to joining Garden Court in December 2020, Matthew was an employed barrister at the Public Law Project, after having been a caseworker at the AIRE Centre and welfare rights charity Z2K.

Matthew has worked on a number of high-profile judicial review cases issued in the higher courts on behalf of Claimants and Interveners, as well as civil damages claims, and has been a volunteer advocate with Asylum Support Appeals Project since 2018.

Matthew is a co-author of the 13th edition of CPAG's Benefits for Migrants Handbook.

Administrative and Public Law

Overview

Matthew is happy to accept instructions in judicial review cases. His time working as an employed barrister at Public Law Project gave him a strong grounding in public law casework and procedure across a range of different areas of administrative law and public decision-making.

Matthew has been a volunteer advocate with the Asylum Support Appeals Project since 2018, representing applicants who have been refused support under s4 or s95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Matthew is happy to accept instructions in public law matters arising from asylum support issues. 

Notable Cases

High Court finds 2017 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Regulations unlawful
RF v Secretary of State for Work And Pensions [2017] EWHC 3375 (Admin) (as a pupil)
Judicial review case successfully quashing amendments to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013, which were held to be discriminatory towards claimants with mental health impairments in breach of Human Rights Act 1998. RF’s claim was supported by The National Autistic Society, Inclusion London, Revolving Doors and Disability Rights UK.  The claim was also supported by two interveners: Mind and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Press release here.

Successful Court of Appeal challenge to Home Office 'no notice' removals
FB (Afghanistan) & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1338 (as a caseworker)
The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the challenge to the Home Office Judicial Review and Injunctions policy, also known as the ‘removal notice window’ policy. The Court ruled that the removal window policy did not allow individuals - with a proper case to remain - to access the court to make their case before it is too late. This case was widely reported in the media including the Guardian and the Law Society Gazette. Press release here.

Suitability criteria in the EU Settlement Scheme
JCWI v SSHD (as junior counsel led by Martin Westgate QC and Alison Pickup)
Acting for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) in a challenge to the suitability criteria for the EU Settlement Scheme. JCWI issued a claim challenging the inconsistencies between who the Government had publicly said would be excluded from the UK after Brexit, and the much wider group who actually stood to be excluded because of how the Government drafted the new Rules. Case settled. Press release here

B v SSWP – case settled. Matthew acted as junior counsel to Zoe Leventhal.
Following judicial review proceedings, the DWP acknowledged that it has discretion as to whether or not to recover hardship payments – an important change for those sanctioned under Universal Credit. The DWP has since published an open letter explaining how hardship payments can be claimed, and the process by which claimants can request that hardship payments are not recovered. The letter can be found here. The Garden Court Social Welfare Bulletin blog on the case is here. The press release by Public Law Project is here. PLP’s explainer to claimants and advisers is here. Rightsnet post is here.

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Education Law

Matthew is developing his practice in education law and is happy to be contacted. Matthew is also happy to advise on making legal aid exceptional case funding applications in education cases.   

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Housing Law

Overview

Matthew is happy to accept instructions in housing cases including defending possession proceedings, homelessness, and social security issues. 

Matthew’s experience in welfare benefits, public law, asylum support, and migrants’ rights enables him to provide a holistic approach. 

As part of his pupillage, Matthew spent six weeks on secondment in the housing team at Doughty Street Chambers, under the supervision of Dominic Preston and Zia Nabi. 

Notable Cases

Gul v Bilal (County Court – unreported). Nearly Legal blog post here.
County Court held that a landlord who presents a tenant with a cheque, purportedly returning an unprotected tenancy deposit in the process, cannot claim to have returned that deposit where the tenant refused to accept the cheque, never cashed it, and where the landlord had not otherwise sought to pay back the deposit. The landlord’s application to amend his pleaded case to include reliance on a subsequent section 21 notice was refused on the basis that the amendment, if allowed, would have had no prospect of success.

Patel v Hackney [2021] EWCA Civ 897 (led by Edward Fitzpatrick)
The Court of Appeal considered affordability of accommodation in an appeal concerning intentional homelessness. Garden Court Social Welfare Bulletin blog post here.

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Welfare Benefits Law

Overview

Matthew is happy to accept instructions in welfare benefits cases. He is an experienced tribunal advocate with particular expertise in Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance, as well as cases concerning right to reside and eligibility. 

Matthew is also happy to advise on the use of exceptional case funding for welfare benefits cases that are out of scope for legal aid, having worked to promote the use of ECF during his time at Public Law Project. 

Notable Cases

B v SSWP – case settled. Matthew acted as junior counsel to Zoe Leventhal.
Following judicial review proceedings, the DWP acknowledged that it has discretion as to whether or not to recover hardship payments – an important change for those sanctioned under Universal Credit. The DWP has since published an open letter explaining how hardship payments can be claimed, and the process by which claimants can request that hardship payments are not recovered. The letter can be found here. The Garden Court Social Welfare Bulletin blog on the case is here. The press release by Public Law Project is here. PLP’s explainer to claimants and advisers is here. Rightsnet post is here.

Bv SSWP [2020] First-tier Tribunal – successfully overturning six sanctions decisions imposed on the appellant’s Universal Credit claim. Twitter thread here.

H v SSWP [2019] First-tier Tribunal – successfully overturning seven sanctions decisions imposed on the appellant’s Universal Credit claim. Twitter thread here

RF v Secretary of State for Work And Pensions [2017] EWHC 3375 (Admin) (as a pupil)
Judicial review case successfully quashing amendments to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013, which were held to be discriminatory towards claimants with mental health impairments in breach of Human Rights Act 1998. RF’s claim was supported by The National Autistic Society, Inclusion London, Revolving Doors and Disability Rights UK.  The claim was also supported by two interveners: Mind and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Press release here.

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Immigration Law

Since joining Garden Court, Matthew has been developing a practice in immigration law. He has a particular interest in cases involving trafficking, asylum, and EEA nationals.

Prior to starting pupillage Matthew worked as a project manager at the AIRE Centre, heading up the organisation’s work on EEA Women in Prison and Migrant Homelessness.

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Immigration Detention

Overview

Matthew is looking to develop his practice in immigration detention civil claims. Matthew worked on a number of these cases at Public Law Project and assisted in achieving successful outcomes for clients. Matthew has experience of costs and case management hearings and is happy to advise on costs budgets. 

Matthew has been doing pro bono immigration bail hearings for Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) since January 2021. 

Notable Cases

K v SSHD – as an in-house caseworker. Assisted in achieving £35,000 settlement for a client detained for over a year. 

MLF v SSHD – as an in-house caseworker. Assisted in achieving £25,000 settlement for a client unlawfully detained and removed from the UK for six months. 

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Background

Prior to joining Chambers, Matthew worked as an employed barrister at Public Law Project, where he completed his pupillage as part of the Justice First Fellowship scheme, under the supervision of Alison Pickup. This experience gave Matthew a strong insight into the daily practice and demands of the work of a legal aid solicitor.

Matthew previously worked as a caseworker at the welfare rights charity Z2K, and as a project manager at the AIRE Centre. 

Outside of work Matthew enjoys running, playing football, cooking and travelling.

Publications

Training and Seminars

Matthew is regularly asked to speak at conferences and events on social welfare law and related issues, and is happy to be contacted about delivering training. 

In March 2022, Matthew spoke at Garden Court's webinar 'Restricting Human Rights: Government Consultation on a Bill of Rights and Garden Court’s response', click here to view the recording.

On 29 March 2022, Matthew spoke at 'The Nationality and Borders Bill Conference' on 'Accommodation for asylum seekers' with Irena Sabic, also of Garden Court Chambers.

Matthew regularly speaks at Garden Court Housing Team events.

Matthew is a freelance trainer with Shelter, and regularly delivers webinars on housing and homelessness law. Click here to view his trainer profile.

Education

Human Rights LLM, Birkbeck, University of London
BPTC, University of Law
GDL, University of Law
History BA, University of Sheffield

 

Professional Membership

  • HLPA
  • ALBA

 

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