Garden Court Housing Team - Top Ranked Chambers UK 2010

Thursday 12 November 2009

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While Garden Court's focus extends beyond housing law, it boasts an impressive number of extremely talented and highly qualified barristers who concentrate on this sector. Specialising in representing the disadvantaged in housing matters, the chambers is involved in a great many of the major cases, and the general market consensus is that it "can give anyone a run for their money." It accordingly ascends to the top band this year. The chambers' leading silk is the indefatigable Jan Luba QC. He has had a particularly busy year, with barristers confirming that "his domination of the high courts continues." They also acclaim his "unmatched talents, enormous popularity and extremely persuasive oratory skills." Former solicitor Liz Davies is renowned as "one of the most able juniors around." She co-authored the main textbook on homelessness and allocation law and is seen as an "absolute authority" in that area of law. She is also able to maintain particularly good relationships with clients. Stephen Knafler is praised for the sheer amount of work he undertakes. Known as "the brief monster," he devours paperwork and gets through cases at a great rate without ever compromising on quality. His "helpful and reasonable approach" to working with others has won him a lot of friends. Having been called in 1972, David Watkinson is well established and has a vast amount of experience. Hard-working and "always willing to champion unfashionable causes," he "certainly fights the corner for his clients." Also praised for his willingness to take on the less glamorous causes is Stephen Cottle. "Highly intelligent and committed," he fights extremely hard for clients in difficult situations and has handled some notable work on behalf of travellers. Beatrice Prevatt's background in voluntary services is a boon as it gives her an edge in being able to explain complex legal issues to people less familiar with the intricacies of social housing law. She is also an "unfailingly pleasant opponent," according to those she has met on the other side of the table. The "affable, decent and practical " Edward Fitzpatrick is popular with both tenants' groups and his fellow barristers. He specialises in county court work involving homelessness and disrepair. Finally, John Beckley joins the tables this year. Several solicitors were quick to praise his cross-examination skills and highlight the fact that he "really believes in what he is doing."


Garden Court Chambers proclaims that three principles lie at the foundation of its practice: social justice, equality and a fundamental commitment to human rights. Sources confirm that they find all three are very much in evidence when dealing with the set. Clients and solicitors also highlight slightly more pragmatic attractions, pinpointing Garden Court's "wealth of renowned, experienced and also up-and-coming immigration and human rights specialists," "sensible fees and user-friendly members." The set sadly lost one of its best-loved and most respected practitioners this year when Frances Webber retired from practice. However, as is evident from the volume of barristers listed below, it undoubtedly remains the leading immigration set, followed, as sources suggest, by a certain amount of clear blue water. Laurie Fransman QC remains perched at the pinnacle of the Chambers rankings, having been emphatically endorsed as "the god of nationality law." He provides advice across the full range of immigration, nationality and asylum law, and is known as "the absolute past master of nationality cases." Fransman's clients delight in the fact that he is "an amalgam of charm and real weight of authority," and applaud him "because Laurie has it all at his fingertips - he makes the complex seem clear and concise." Ian Macdonald QC's practice encompasses the full range of immigration law, and he has appeared in numerous reported immigration cases in the Immigration Appeal Tribunal and the House of Lords. One of the practice's true veterans, he authored a leading textbook in the sector, and has been involved in immigration and race relations since he was called to the Bar. Kathryn Cronin is highly regarded for her expertise in immigration cases with a family or childcare element to them. A "brilliantly clear advocate," she brings a tremendous breadth of expertise to the table, so much so that one solicitor noted: "Working with Kathryn, I feel we're starting further up the hill than we would be without her." Other sources noted her ability on her feet: "She is excellent in court as she understands the feel of the courtroom and can adapt to the judge she is appearing before." Nicola Rogers has long been hailed as one of the leading juniors for EU-related immigration law, and sources remain unanimous that "in this particular niche, she's pretty much unsurpassed." One commentator acknowledged that "you're not going to get someone who takes a better point on an EU case than her." Rick Scannell provides a solid coverage of the full range of immigration and asylum law. Both clients and solicitors applaud his approach: "He impresses with his preparation, thoroughness and attention to detail." Scannell is especially regarded for his expertise in refugee law and EU free movement law. Duran Seddon similarly covers the range of immigration, asylum and nationality law. He draws considerable praise from a cross-section of clients, solicitors and his fellow barristers for being "excellent, clear and always fair; he's so dogged, he doesn't lose a point." David Jones advises on immigration, asylum, human rights, EU free movement and nationality law. Solicitors sing his praises, citing his "personable and easy to work with nature, deep knowledge and extensive experience in challenging complex legal arguments." Peter Jorro's practice covers a range of immigration issues, although commentators especially emphasise his expertise in asylum cases. Patrick Lewis "has a great manner with immigration judges" that draws in solicitors. They are further attracted by the fact that he "can simplify and explain complex procedures and concepts - if I have a vulnerable client, I know he will put them at ease." Stephanie Harrison maintains strong involvement in immigration and asylum work, although she has started to undertake broader civil liberties and anti-discrimination work. She garners the full support of the market. Nadine Finch is noted for her expertise in immigration and asylum cases that involve a crossover with family and childcare law. She is popular among clients, as is Ronan Toal, who "combines an incredible wealth of experience with an equally impressive knowledge of the law." Known for his work in cases involving Somali nationals, "he takes interesting legal points that others wouldn't." The "extremely approachable and user-friendly" Navita Atreya draws praise from solicitors and clients alike. Solicitors in particular note that "in addition to having brilliant client-care skills, she is also highly analytical and a good advocate with a real instinct for a case." They also praise Sonali Naik for her work on cases with a family reunion aspect, which she undertakes in the context of a wider immigration, asylum and nationality law practice. Sources concur that the standard at Garden Court is so high that it is perhaps hard to stand out, but Adrian Berry has managed to do so in recent times. Commentators acknowledge his considerable expertise in nationality law, noting that "his profile has really been enhanced in the past couple of years." Sadat Sayeed is noted by sources for "his sheer enthusiasm and positive approach to work, which rub off on both clients and those who instruct him." Navtej Singh Ahluwalia is also proving popular with instructing solicitors. "Passionate, personable and with phenomenal advocacy skills," Ahluwalia is with increasing frequency attracting clients seeking immigration advice.


This set has a long and respected tradition of advocacy relating to civil liberties and human rights, and has a deep bench of talented practitioners. The leading silks here include Mark Muller QC, who focuses on asylum, immigration and human rights cases relating to terrorism. In common with him, Dexter Dias QC has a great track record in cases relating to terrorism, and his practice also includes inquests and inquiries. Among the juniors, Stephen Knafler has a fantastic reputation in community care and health-related human rights challenges. Solicitors draw great comfort from his impressive track record and specialist expertise. They also seek out Stephanie Harrison who is renowned for her human rights practice relating to discrimination. Kathryn Cronin specialises in immigration, asylum and family law, as does Nadine Finch. Both are renowned for their deep expertise and client-focused approach. Edward Grieves is "extremely good" in matters relating to terrorism and national security, winning recommendations from clients and peers. Stephen Simblet, meanwhile, has appeared before the ECHR in an action against the police, and his increasingly prolific practice also includes protesters' rights and mental health. Leslie Thomas comes highly recommended thanks to his fluid advocacy, and his human rights work centres upon inquests and actions against the police.


"No set is more impassioned about or willing to fight harder for the client" than Garden Court Chambers, a set that has a wide-ranging practice on the defence side. Co-head of chambers Courtenay Griffiths QC is "a rock and a staff for the client to rely on." "Never less than fully committed, he approaches every case with due attention." Of late he has been working on the Charles Taylor case in The Hague. Other silks here include Henry Blaxland QC, "a very effective jury advocate who gets results." He was recently successful in the appeal for Suzanne Holdsworth, who was convicted of the murder of a child she was babysitting. Of the juniors, Judy Khan "is very down to earth and popular with clients." Solicitors turn to her as she has "a sharp mind and excellent judgement." Recently she successfully represented one of the defendants in the 'caustic soda' rape. She shares a set with Adrian Eissa, who is "very bright and a great cross-examiner."


This set has an excellent reputation in human rights and housing law, and a sizeable public law practice. It is famed for bringing a broad range of challenges to public bodies. Jan Luba QC's public law caseload centres on housing matters, where he is seen as one of the great men of his generation. He recently appeared in a case challenging the statutory interpretation of the test for the extension of crack house closure orders. Stephen Knafler is another with a fantastic reputation: "His long list of reported and successful cases speaks for itself," say sources, while clients value his "responsiveness, diligence, attention to detail and efficiency." Stephanie Harrison is a perceptive and experienced practitioner, with expertise in immigration, discrimination-related cases and children's law matters. She comes strongly recommended as does Stephen Simblet. Simblet focuses on inquests, mental health, actions against the police and judicial review.


A prominent force, Garden Court Chambers has members who undertake civil actions against the police and other institutional bodies for false imprisonment, assault, malicious prosecution, misfeasance in public office and other abuses of power. "It manages a sizeable workload in this area and is home to some real experts in the field," say commentators. As a tribute to its efforts, the set is heavily relied on by a number of loyal instructing solicitors. They feed it work of the highest quality, such as R (on the application of Warren) v Her Majesty's Assistant Coroner for Northamptonshire, an emergency judicial review arising from the refusal of a coroner to call any expert psychiatric evidence at the inquest of an inmate in the privately run Rye Hill prison. Stephen Simblet is well known for his impressive practice, particularly his judicial review work. He is lauded as "a highly experienced, very approachable barrister who has a good nose for legal argument." Leslie Thomas specialises in false imprisonment, malicious prosections, misfeasance and deaths in custody, and is considered "one of the best advocates out there: if you have a fight on your hands you should definitely go to him." Colin Hutchinson maintains an impressive practice and wins the full support of the market.


Jo Delahunty QC of Garden Court Chambers is "young, dynamic and making waves in every case she gets involved in." At the same set, Maggie Jones is "a woman of principle" who is particularly good at acting for parents in care proceedings.

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