Fundamental Rights Conference: A Public Law Perspective

Saturday 10 October 2015, 09:45am - 5:00pm

LSE New Academic Building

Date: Saturday 10 October 2015
Time: 09:45am - 5:00pm
Venue: LSE New Academic Building, 54 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ  
Areas of Law: Community Care Law , Court of Protection , Housing Law , Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights , Welfare Benefits Law , Claims Against the Police and Public Authorities , Inquests and Inquiries

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Garden Court Chambers' Public Law Team in association with Legal Action Group and the London School of Economics invites you to join us for a day of expert analysis and discussion. 

In the 800th year of the Magna Carta, this day-long conference on Fundamental Rights reflects on the evolution of fundamental rights in the UK and its role in our modern society. At a time when human rights are coming under scrutiny and the right of individuals to challenge decisions of public bodies is under threat, this is the perfect forum in which to take stock of the legal issues and engage in discussions with some of the leaders in the public law field.

With high-level plenaries exploring some of the central themes in public law, and a choice of specialist break-out sessions, delegates can tailor the programme to suit their areas of interest. Garden Court's public law barristers will be joined by Lord Toulson, Justice of the Supreme Court, as well as external experts from across the fields of inquest law, children's rights and housing law.

Whether you are a seasoned public lawyer or a newcomer to the field seeking a cross-disciplinary perspective, this is an essential day of debate and discussion around fundamental rights in our society today.

The conference will be followed by a complimentary drinks reception for all delegates.

Book online

In association with the LSE Law Department and Legal Action Group.

  • LSE Law logo
  • LAG


09:45 – 10:15 Registration

10:15 – 10:30 Introduction: Stephen Knafler QC

10:30 – 11:30 Keynote Speech
Lord Toulson, Justice of the Supreme Court: 'Common Law and Fundamental Rights'

11:30 – 11:50 Coffee Break

11:50 – 13:00 Morning break-out sessions
Delegates can choose between session 1A or 1B.

1. A) Making the rights of the child meaningful

  • The universality of ‘best interests of the child’ as an international norm
  • The enforceability of the best interests concept in domestic law
  • The approach of the courts and public bodies
  • Q&A

Speakers: Shu Shin Luh, Kathryn Cronin, Maria Moodie (Chair) of Garden Court Chambers

1. B) The fundamental right to housing and welfare

  • Whether the fundamental right to affordable housing can be enforced through litigation in the UK courts
  • The UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and their legal relevance in future litigation
  • An analysis of key case law in this area including SG & Others (on the challenge to the household benefit cap based on its impact on lone parents) and Nzolameso v City of Westminster (on the offering of "out-of-borough" accommodation to single parents unable to pay their rent due to housing benefit cuts and the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children)
  • Q&A

Speakers: Liz Davies and Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers with Tom Royston (Chair) of Garden Court North

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch to be provided

14:00 – 14:45 Plenary 1

Stephen Knafler QC of Garden Court Chambers: Fair Process

  • What is procedural fairness?
  • How does it operate and what makes it so powerful?
  • Examples from different areas of law
  • The fairness principle expands: fairness and legitimate expectation
  • Fairness and proportionality under the European Convention on Human Rights, in EU law and in common law
  • Substantive unfairness and the future

Refreshments available

14:55 – 16:10 Afternoon break-out sessions
Delegates can choose between session 2A or 2B

2. A) Disability and the ageing population: Fundamental rights in adult social care

  • Why fundamental rights matter in this area: the factual context
  • The “crisis in home care”; the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s review; what progress has been made towards a human rights-based approach?
  • Article 5 ECHR safeguards for people lacking mental capacity in social care settings: who benefits from the current safeguards and how?
  • Will Care Act 2014 provide a framework for better care? The new law on assessments, the well-being principle, ECHR rights and private providers
  • ECHR, UNCRPD and Equality Act 2010 in legal challenges to the adequacy and withdrawal of services: an appraisal from some of the case law to date; effective redress in and outside the courts
  • Proposal for a new UN Convention on the Rights of Older People
  • Q&A

Speakers: Katherine Hill, Strategy Advisor on Equality and Human Rights for Age UK, Bethan Harris, Gráinne Mellon, and Beatrice Prevatt (Chair) of Garden Court Chambers

2. B) Preventable deaths: Life in the hands of the State, does it really care?

How effective is Article 2 ECHR or does the State merely pay lip service to the ‘Right to Life’? A legal and practical discussion on the interplay between public law and the ECHR in the following areas:

  • Police shootings
  • Custody deaths at police stations
  • Restraint deaths
  • Self-inflicted deaths
  • Deaths in psychiatric hospitals
  • Suicides
  • Q&A

Speakers: Leslie Thomas QC  and Kirsten Heaven of Garden Court Chambers, Deborah Coles - Director of INQUEST and Professor Keith Rix, Consultant Psychiatrist

16:15 – 17:00 Plenary 2

Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers: Equality

  • Equality and anti-discrimination under the ECHR and EU Law
  • Statutory equality duties
  • Equality and consistency of treatment in public law / common law
  • Practical applications of equality / consistency principle

The conference will be followed by a drinks reception at the venue.

Who should attend?

  • Solicitors and paralegals working in private practice
  • Lawyers and legal advisers working in law centres
  • Lawyers working for charities and NGOs
  • Local authority lawyers and service directors
  • Central government lawyers and policy officers
  • Academics and researchers specialising in public law

What is included?

  • 5.5 hours of fully-accredited CPD training
  • Talks prepared by one of the leading sets of human rights lawyers in the country
  • Comprehensive notes for you to take away
  • Lunch and all refreshments
  • Opportunities to ask questions
  • The opportunity to buy selected Legal Action Group publications at a special conference discount

Delegate fees

Book now to take advantage of the early bird discount. Third and subsequent delegates from your firm or organisation may attend at half price. Details on how to book multiple places are available via the booking form:

Early bird

Standard: £175.00
Not for profit/NGOs/Law centres/advice centres: £140.00
Full-time students/volunteers/unwaged (Proof of status may be requires in order to grant this request): £50


Standard: £225.00
Not for profit/NGOs/law centres/advice centres: £195.00
Full-time students/volunteers/unwaged (Proof of status may be required): £75.00

Third and subsequent delegates

Standard: £112.50
Not for profit/NGOs/law centres/advice centres: £97.00
Full-time students/volunteers/unwaged (Proof of status may be required): N/A

Groups of three or more delegates from the same organisation booking at the same time will receive a 50% discount on the standard rate for their third and subsequent delegate places.

All prices are exclusive of VAT

Book online


About the speakers

Keynote speaker

Lord Toulson, Justice of the Supreme Court. Lord Toulson was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court in April 2013. Prior to this appointment, he was Chair of the Law Commission of England and Wales (2002-2006). Lord Toulson has held judicial positions in the Commercial Court and the Administrative Court, and was the Presiding Judge on the Western Circuit from 1997 - 2002. Following his promotion to the Court of Appeal in 2007, Lord Toulson was also appointed as a member of the Privy Council and served for five years on the Judicial Appointments Commission.

Garden Court Chambers speakers

Stephen Knafler QC is head of the Public Law Team at Garden Court Chambers. He specialises in a variety of specific public law areas – immigration, community care, health, housing, local government and civil liberties – but is regularly instructed to advise and represent in all kinds of public law cases. Stephen has over 200 reported cases to his name.

Leslie Thomas QC is a specialist in civil liberties and human rights law. His recent cases include the inquest into the death of Christi and Bobby Shepherd (children who died on a Thomas Cook Holiday in Corfu) and the Mark Duggan Inquest. He was also a member of the legal team for 75 of the Hillsborough families. Leslie was awarded the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award in 2012 and, in 2013, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to civil rights (Kingston University). In 2014 he became Queen’s Counsel.

Marc Willers QC specialises in public and administrative law, planning law, human rights, and discrimination. He is renowned for the representation of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma and has appeared in many of the leading cases concerning the protection of their rights, including the well-publicised Dale Farm judicial review in 2012. He is a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission panel of preferred counsel.

Kathryn Cronin is Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers. She undertakes leading representation and advice work in family and immigration law involving the movement of children and families. Kathryn is known for her family work involving inter-country adoptions, inter-country surrogacies, forced marriage and the international placement of children in care.

Liz Davies specialises in all aspects of social housing law and is recognised as a leading authority on public law on homelessness and housing allocation. Liz is co-author of Housing Allocation and Homelessness (Luba, Davies and Johnston, Jordans, 4th ed., 2015 forthcoming), one of the leading textbooks on the subject. She also practises in community care, and in public and administrative law.

Bethan Harris practises in housing, community care and Court of Protection law and has expertise in cases involving community care assessments and issues of mental capacity. Bethan has led multiple expert training sessions on the Care Act 2014. She is a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission panel of preferred counsel.

Kirsten Heaven specialises in inquests, police actions, claims against public authorities, and public law. She has particular expertise in human rights and equality law-related judicial review challenges across her practice areas. Most recently, Kirsten has been instructed on the Hillsborough Inquest, as part of a Garden Court team representing family members of 74 of the 96 victims.

Shu Shin Luh is a public law practitioner with a busy High Court and appellate practice focussed on the rights of children and vulnerable adults. She won the Young Legal Aid Barrister of the Year Award in 2012 for her contribution to the advancement of children’s rights. Her practice cuts across several areas of law – community care; immigration; trafficking; civil liberties; mental health and equality and discrimination law. Her core client groups are children, vulnerable adults and their families but she also regularly advises and represents a number of non-governmental organisations and public bodies on matters relating to trafficking and children's rights. Shu Shin acted for Shelter Children's Legal Services in an intervention in the Supreme Court establishing the correct approach to consideration of homelessness decisions where children's best interests are at stake. She acts for Coram Children's Legal Centre in an intervention in the Court of Appeal (due to be heard in April 2016) relating to the suitability of subsistence support provided to migrant families with children. She is on the panel of counsel for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Gráinne Mellon specialises in public and employment law and has particular expertise in human rights and discrimination. Gráinne provides advice and representation in education, immigration and asylum, community care and Court of Protection.

Maria Moodie is a public law specialist in the areas of community care, housing and Children Act 1989 challenges for children, migrant families and care leavers and has developed a particular expertise in representing victims of human trafficking in both public law and immigration matters. Prior to her career at the Bar, Maria worked for a number of years as a legal adviser within a leading children's charity. Drawing upon this front-line experience, Maria has developed a practice that focuses in particular upon the rights of children and vulnerable young adults.

Desmond Rutledge is a public law specialist in social security law. He represents social security claimants in both the Upper Tribunal and the higher courts and has a particular interest in cases involving a crossover with housing, immigration and community care law.

Beatrice Prevatt practises in all areas of housing law, and has expertise in homelessness, Children Act and community care accommodation duties, and accommodation issues for asylum seekers. She is noted for her work on the technically difficult issues of disrepair, anti-social behaviour cases and matters involving vulnerable clients with mental health issues.

Guest Speakers

Tom Royston is a barrister at Garden Court North chambers. With a background in Citizens Advice Bureaux and a Law Centre, he specialises in social security and discrimination law. He has a particular interest in public law challenges to local welfare support schemes. He regularly acts for claimants in challenges to Discretionary Housing Payment decisions and has appeared in a number of landmark cases including one of the leading Bedroom Tax cases (Rutherford) which is listed in the Court of Appeal this autumn, a significant test case challenge to the vires of a Council Tax Reduction Scheme ( Winder & Ors v Sandwell ) and is acting for CPAG intervening in the pending Supreme Court bedroom tax case MA v SSWP .

Professor Keith Rix is an honorary consultant forensic psychiatrist in the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust. Professor Rix was a visiting consultant psychiatrist at HM Prison, Leeds, and established both the Leeds Magistrates’ Court Mental Health Assessment and Diversion Scheme and the city’s forensic psychiatry service. He has provided expert evidence to the courts for thirty years, including evidence on a pro bono basis in capital cases in the Caribbean and Africa.

Deborah Coles  is Director of INQUEST, a charity providing expertise on contentious deaths and their investigation with a particular focus on deaths in custody and detention. She leads its strategic policy, legal and parliamentary work. She is called upon as an expert to numerous committees and inquiries and was an advisor to the Harris Review of deaths of young people in prison, the IPCC Review on investigation of Article 2 deaths and Baroness Corston's review of women in the criminal justice system. She has expertise in specialist areas including coronial reform, policing, human rights compliant investigations, family engagement, traumatic bereavement, juvenile and youth justice, race and gender and criminal justice. She delivers conference papers nationally and internationally and is author of numerous articles and publications and is a regular media commentator. Deborah has been a member of the Independent Advisory Panel on deaths in custody since 2009,  leading its work stream on cross sector learning, equalities and family liaison.


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