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Tessa Buchanan

Year of Call: 2012

"She is excellent - very strong in court and extremely thorough, very easy to work with and great with clients."

Chambers UK, 2021 (Social Housing)

"Extremely knowledgeable with great analytical and research skills. She provides sound legal opinions while being creative in her persuasion and presentation."

Chambers UK, 2021 (Community Care)

"An excellent advocate who is very tenacious and committed to the cause." "She has a meticulous and forensic approach but also stands back from the detail of a case to provide holistic advice."

Chambers UK, 2020

"She is very knowledgeable, has a sharp intellect and displays a down-to-earth manner which works really well with clients."

Chambers UK, 2019

"She is an impressive junior who has a good attention to detail, and is willing and able to go the extra mile."

Chambers UK, 2018

Contact

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Tessa practises primarily in the fields of housing, homelessness, community care, and Gypsy and Traveller law, with a particular focus on public law, human rights, and discrimination. She is committed to legal aid work.

She is a co-author of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (5th edition, Lexis Nexis, 2018) and a contributing author to Gypsy and Traveller Law (3rd edition, LAG, 2020), Housing Law Handbook (2nd edition, Law Society, 2020) and the Migrant Support Handbook (1st edition, LAG, forthcoming). She is a member of the EHRC’s panel of preferred Counsel and is currently instructed by Shelter in a number of cases challenging landlords’ and letting agents’ “No DSS” policies.

Housing Law

Overview

Tessa undertakes cases across the full spectrum of housing law.  She has a particular interest in homelessness and housing allocation matters and in cases involving discrimination, human rights, and public law issues. She is ranked in Chambers and Partners for social housing (Band 2). 

Tessa is a co-author of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (5th edition, Lexis Nexis 
2018) and a contributing author to Housing Law Handbook (2nd edition, Law Society, 2020) and Migrant Support Handbook (1st edition, LAG, forthcoming).  She was the vice-chair of the Housing Law Practitioners' Association for four years.

Notable Cases

“No DSS” challenges
Tyler v Paul Carr Estate Agents [2020] EW Misc 30 (CC)
Tessa represented the successful Claimant in the first contested trial concerning a letting agent’s refusal to accept an applicant because he received benefits.  The Court declared that the Claimant had been subjected to unlawful indirect disability discrimination and awarded him £6,000 in damages plus his costs on an indemnity basis.  The case was widely reported in the national media.

“J” v A Letting Agent, York County Court, 2020
This case was the first occasion on which the Court declared that a No DSS policy amounted to unlawful indirect discrimination.  Tessa represented the Claimant.  The case received nationwide press attention.

Suitability finding was flawed because officer had reviewed own decision
HM (a protected party, by his Litigation Friend) v Southwark London Borough Council (2020/2021) December Legal Action 46
The County Court quashed a decision that the Appellant’s accommodation was suitable on the grounds that the same officer had made both the original decision and the review decision; the officer had failed to consider the availability of closer accommodation; and the officer had failed to comply with the public sector equality duty. Tessa represented the Appellant up to the final hearing. 

Acceptance of main housing duty cannot be withdrawn on grounds that applicant lacks capacity
AW v Richmond upon Thames Royal London Borough Council (2020) November Legal Action 41
Tessa represented the Appellant in a successful appeal against a decision to discharge the main housing duty. The Court held that there was no power to withdraw a decision accepting the main housing duty simply because the applicant lacked capacity.

Meaning of "significantly" more vulnerable
Panayioutou v Waltham Forest London Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 1624
In a case with widespread implications for homeless applicants, the Court of Appeal handed down guidance on when a person is vulnerable and therefore in priority need under the Housing Act 1996. Tessa represented the Appellant, led by Martin Westgate QC.

Housing Accommodation under the Children Act 1989
R (SC) v London Borough of Ealing [2016] EWHC 2765 (Admin)
This was a challenge to the council's decision that the Claimant's children were not in need and therefore that no accommodation would be provided for the family. Tessa represented the Claimant in contested hearings in the High Court and then  successfully obtained permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal on an important point of principle.

Complex possession case involving fraudulent agent
Kalganova v Matumorya and Mandazi October 2014 Legal Action 48
Tessa acted for the Second Defendant in a claim for possession brought on the grounds that the Defendants were trespassers. In a complex case involving multiple contracts/tenancy agreements and a fraudulent third party, she successfully rebutted arguments that the defendants had entered onto the land without lawful consent; that a tenancy agreement between the Cclaimant and the agent was void for uncertainty, illegality, or fraudulent misrepresentation; that the agreement between the cClaimant and the agent did not create a tenancy and was not valid; that the defendants' sub tenancy had been forfeited; and that the sub tenancy was unlawful.

Contact Tessa

Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights

Overview

Tessa has a particular interest in representing members of the Gypsy, Traveller, and Roma communities. She is a contributing author to Gypsy and Traveller Law (3rd edition, LAG, 2020). She is also a trustee of London Gypsies and Travellers.

Notable Cases

Injunctions against Persons Unknown
Various Claimants v Persons Unknown
Tessa is acting pro bono in a test case in the High Court examining the legality of injunctions against Persons Unknown in light of the decisions in Bromley v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA Civ 12 (in which Tessa was also instructed), Cameron v Liverpool Insurance Co [2019] UKSC 6, and Canada Goose v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA  Civ 303. The case involves fifteen local authorities. She is working with Marc Willers QC and Owen Greenhall.

Definition of Gypsies and Travellers in Planning policy for Traveller sites
R (Lisa Smith) v Secretary of State for Communities, Housing, and Local Government
Tessa is instructed in a planning appeal in which the Claimant is arguing that the Government’s definition of Gypsies and Travellers as contained in Planning policy for Traveller sites is unlawful.

Wide injunctions against Gypsies and Travellers
Bromley v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA Civ 12
Between 2015 and 2019, some 38 local authorities obtained injunctions banning unauthorised encampments in all, or large swathes of, their area.  Such injunctions have a disproportionate effect on Gypsies and Travellers.  Led by Marc Willers QC, Tessa acted (substantially pro bono) in a landmark case in which the Court of Appeal expressed serious concerns about such injunctions and gave guidance as to the limited circumstances in which they should be granted.

Implications of discrimination by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Mulvenna v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWCA Civ 1850, [2018] JPL 516
This case arose from the SSCLG's practice of recovering Gypsy and Traveller planning appeals in the Green Belt, which had been found to be discriminatory in Moore and Coates v SSCLG [2015] EWHC 44 (Admin). The case explored the consequences of that judgment for the many other Gypsies and Travellers whose appeals had also been unlawfully recovered.

Provision for homeless Gypsy family under the Children Act 1989
R (SC) v London Borough of Ealing [2016] EWHC 2765 (Admin)
This was a challenge to the council's decision that the Claimant's children were not in need and therefore that no accommodation would be provided for the family. Tessa represented the Claimant in contested hearings in the High Court and then successfully obtained permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal on an important point of principle.

Wide injunction
Ealing LBC v Connors [2016] EWHC 1387 (QB), [2016] JPL 1100
Tessa acted for the first defendant in a case challenging the council's application for a borough-wide injunction.

Contact Tessa

Community Care Law

Overview

Tessa acts in a wide range of community care matters. She has a particular interest in representing children and is often instructed in cases involving challenges to failures to provide support or accommodation under the Children Act 1989; cases involving children who are leaving or have left care; and challenges to age assessments of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. She is ranked in Chambers and Partners (Band 3).

Notable Cases

Strategic litigation challenging unlawful working practices under the Children Act 1989
Tessa acted in a number of different cases challenging Essex County Council’s practice of diverting homeless young people away from section 20 of the Children Act 1989 with the result that they were deprived of the benefit of being looked-after children.

Use of dental age estimations and photographs in age assessments
R (AS) v Kent County Council [2017] UKUT 446 (IAC)
Tessa acted for the Claimant, led by Ian Wise QC, in an age assessment raising issues of wider importance including the reliability of dental age assessments and the use of photographs in age assessments. The Tribunal agreed with the Claimant’s arguments that dental age assessments are not reliable and booklets of photographs are of no evidential use.

Successful challenge to age assessment
R (HM) v Kent County Council
Tessa acted for the Claimant in a complex age assessment dispute. After a five-day trial in the Upper Tribunal, the judge found that the Claimant was younger than the age assessed by the local authority.

Provision for homeless Gypsy family under the Children Act 1989
R (SC) v London Borough of Ealing [2016] EWHC 2765 (Admin)
This was a challenge to the council's decision that the Claimant's children were not in need and therefore no accommodation would be provided for the family. Tessa represented the Claimant in contested hearings in the High Court and then successfully obtained permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal on an important point of principle.

Contact Tessa

Planning Law

Overview

Tessa is rapidly establishing a busy practice in planning law, with a particular focus on representing Gypsies and Travellers. She has appeared in notable recent cases in this field and acts for clients in tribunals ranging from planning inquiries to the Court of Appeal. She is a trustee of London Gypsies and Travellers and a contributing author to Gypsy and Traveller Law (3rd edition, LAG, 2020). 

Notable Cases

Injunctions against Persons Unknown
Various Claimants v Persons Unknown
Tessa is acting pro bono in a test case in the High Court examining the legality of injunctions against Persons Unknown in light of the decisions in Bromley v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA Civ 12 (in which Tessa was also instructed), Cameron v Liverpool Insurance Co [2019] UKSC 6, and Canada Goose v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA Civ 303. The case involves fifteen local authorities. She is worked with Marc Willers QC and Owen Greenhall.

Definition of Gypsies and Travellers in Planning policy for Traveller sites
R (Lisa Smith) v Secretary of State for Communities, Housing, and Local Government
Tessa is instructed in a planning appeal in which the Claimant is arguing that the Government’s definition of Gypsies and Travellers as contained in Planning policy for Traveller sites is unlawful.

Wide injunctions against Gypsies and Travellers
Bromley v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA Civ 12
Between 2015 and 2019, some 38 local authorities obtained injunctions banning unauthorised encampments in all, or large swathes of, their area.  This had a disproportionate effect on Gypsies and Travellers.  Led by Marc Willers QC, Tessa acted (substantially pro bono) in a landmark case in which the Court of Appeal expressed serious concerns about such injunctions and gave guidance as to the limited circumstances in which they should be granted.

Implications of discrimination by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Mulvenna v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWCA Civ 1850, [2018] JPL 516
This case arose from the SSCLG's practice of recovering Gypsy and Traveller planning appeals in the Green Belt, which had been found to be discriminatory in Moore and Coates v SSCLG [2015] EWHC 44 (Admin). The case explored the consequences of that judgment for the many other Gypsies and Travellers whose appeals had also been unlawfully recovered.

Planning inquiry
Tessa recently appeared in a complex five-day planning inquiry which involved two joined appeals and several expert witnesses. One of the appeals was upheld, with permanent planning permission granted.

Wide injunction
Ealing LBC v Connors [2016] EWHC 1387 (QB), [2016] JPL 1100
Tessa acted for the first defendant challenging the council's application for a borough-wide injunction

Contact Tessa

Pro Bono Work

Tessa is a member of the Traveller Movement's pro bono panel of counsel and is also a trustee for the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit.

She accepts pro bono instructions.

Contact Tessa

Notable Cases & News

Judgment from second ‘No DSS’ court win reveals letting agent caused ‘distress and humiliation’ to disabled tenant

Our Tessa Buchanan of the Garden Court Chambers Housing Team represented the Claimant, instructed by Arnall Rose of Shelter.

3 February 2021

Government in court today over planning rules for Travellers

Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of the Garden Court Chambers Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights team represent Lisa Smith, instructed by Keith Coughtrie of Deighton Pierce Glynn.

10 December 2020

Claimant victorious in first “No DSS” trial

The Claimant was represented by Tessa Buchanan of the Garden Court Housing Team, who was instructed by Shelter.

10 September 2020

Housing Law Handbook: A Practical Guide (Law Society, 2nd edition)

Edited by Stephen Cottle. Contributors: Tim Baldwin, Adrian Berry, Tessa Buchanan, Sophie Caseley, Justine Compton, Sebastian Elgueta, Ed Fitzpatrick, Kevin Gannon, Adrian Marshall Williams, David Renton, Desmond Rutledge and Marina Sergides.

27 August 2020

“No DSS” policy declared unlawful by Court

Tessa Buchanan of the Garden Court Housing Team acted for the Claimant and was instructed by Shelter.

15 July 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

Landmark Court of Appeal judgment criticises the use of wide injunctions which target Gypsy and Traveller encampments

Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers were instructed by Chris Johnson of the Community Law Partnership. London Gypsies and Travellers intervened in the case with Liberty.

21 January 2020

New edition of 'Gypsy and Traveller Law' published by Legal Action Group

'Gypsy and Traveller Law' is edited by Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers. Garden Court co-authors are Marc Willers QC, David Watkinson, Stephen Cottle, Desmond Rutledge, Owen Greenhall and Tessa Buchanan.

6 January 2020

Essex County Council admits unlawful practice in turning away homeless children from care

D was represented by Shu Shin Luh and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Kelly Everett of Coram Children's Legal Centre.

2 July 2019

High Court rules against local authority encampment ban

London Gypsies and Travellers were the interveners, represented pro bono by Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan, both of Garden Court.

17 May 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

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

Improving Access to Social Housing for Victims of Domestic Abuse

This consultation response was drafted by Tessa Buchanan on behalf of the Housing Team at Garden Court Chambers.

9 January 2018

Upper Tribunal gives guidance on age assessments

Tessa Buchanan appeared for the applicant, AS. 

9 November 2017

Court of Appeal hands down important guidance on when a homeless person is “vulnerable”

Tessa Buchanan appeared on behalf of the appellant in the case of Panayiotou. 

31 October 2017

Court of Appeal is considering when a person is “significantly” more vulnerable than ordinarily vulnerable as a result of being homeless

Tessa Buchanan appeared this week in the case of Panayiotou v London Borough of Waltham Forest.

12 October 2017

Shelter research into legal gaps exposed by Grenfell fire – call for evidence

Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers has joined the advisory group assisting with the research.

5 September 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

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

Secretary of State “discriminatory and unlawful” in dealing with Gypsy and Traveller planning appeals

Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan represented the claimants.

1 February 2016

All related news

Background

Tessa joined Garden Court Chambers in October 2013 after completing her pupillage here.

Before coming to the Bar, she volunteered with Hammersmith and Fulham Community Law Centre, the Children's Legal Centre, Just for Kids Law, the Free Representation Unit (FRU), and the National Centre for Domestic Violence.

Publications

Books:
Co-author, Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (5th edition, Lexis Nexis, 2018)
Contributing author, Gypsy and Traveller Law (3rd edition, Legal Action Group, 2020)
Contributing author, Housing Law Handbook (2nd edition, Law Society, 2020)
Contributing author, Migrant Support Handbook (1st edition, Legal Action Group, forthcoming)

Articles:
Author, Allocation schemes and “preferences”, March 2021, Local Government Lawyer
Author, ‘No DSS’ policy declared unlawful (Tyler v Paul Carr Estate Agents), LexisNexis PSL
Co-author, Gypsy and Traveller: update (Parts 1 and 2) (2020/2021) December/January Legal Action 18 and (2020) November Legal Action 30
Author, ‘No DSS’ policy ruled unlawful, Discrimination Law Association Briefings 960, vol 70, p 31
Co-author, No pets, no smokers…no DSS? (2020) September Legal Action 14
Co-author, Gypsy and Traveller freedom to travel upheld in the Court of Appeal, Discrimination Law Association Briefings 940, vol 70, p 22
Co-author, Gypsy and Traveller: case note (2020) March Legal Action 34
Co-author, The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017: one year on (2019) July/August Legal Action 14
Author, The Upper Tribunal on age assessments, November 2017, Local Government Lawyer
Co-author, Article 8 and disability discrimination: where are we now? (2014) 18 L. & T. Review
210

Training and Seminars

Tessa frequently speaks at conferences and seminars and provides training for people working in the legal, charity, and public sectors. She is a trainer for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid and has provided several training sessions for MP caseworkers.  She has also provided training on using the law to assist life-limited children and their families for LawWorks. 

Tessa also recently gave evidence on behalf of HLPA to the Justice Select Committee’s inquiry into the impact of court and tribunal reforms on access to justice.

Awards

Bernard Sunley prize, Inner Temple (2012-13)

Princess Royal Scholar, Inner Temple (2011-12)

Trinity Chambers Prize for Best Overall Performance, Northumbria University BPTC (2011-12)

Parklane Plowden Chambers Prize for Best Advocate, Northumbria University BPTC (2011-12)

BPTC Scholar, Northumbria University (2011-12)

Winner, Inner Temple Leeds Debating Competition (2011)

Winner, Middle Temple Monroe Cup (2010)

Education

  • Bar Professional Training Course: Northumbria University (Outstanding)
  • Graduate Diploma in Law: City University (Distinction)
  • MA (Hons) History: Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Professional Membership

  • Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
  • Housing Law Practitioners' Association

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