Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that two of our barristers won awards at the annual Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards on 6 July 2021.
Tessa Buchanan won Legal Aid Barrister of the Year.
Audrey Cherryl Mogan won Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year.
The LALYs continue to play a vital role in recognising and celebrating the lawyers who go the extra mile to achieve life-changing results for their clients. This is an outstanding and richly deserved achievement for two of our stars at the Bar, demonstrating their commitment to publicly funded work and access to justice.
12 winners were announced on Tuesday 6 July at an online ceremony in front of an audience of over 1,000. They were presented their awards by Sky News presenter Anna Jones.
Tessa and Audrey’s award submissions were supported by a host of stellar references from clients, campaigners, NGOs and counsel.
Tessa Buchanan is a well-respected barrister who undertakes work in the fields of housing, homelessness, community care, and Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) rights. She is described as having ‘vision, acumen and tenacity’.
Tessa is strongly committed to representing vulnerable clients such as those who lack capacity or those from a disadvantaged background. Tessa was instructed in several cases as part of Shelter’s successful legal campaign against ‘No DSS’ landlords, achieving a string of court victories. The rulings are expected to make the private rented sector more accessible to thousands of people. These cases attracted national press coverage and have contributed to vital sector-wide changes to lettings practices. She also represented the appellant as junior counsel in a Court of Appeal case which helped define priority need for homeless applicants.
Tessa is committed to protecting the rights of GRT communities. In 2020, she was junior counsel in a landmark case involving a borough-wide injunction sought by the London Borough of Bromley. Tessa successfully opposed the grant of an injunction banning unauthorised encampments and then successfully resisted Bromley’s appeal to the Court of Appeal, where she secured detailed guidance limiting when such injunctions could be used. The Court emphasised the need for local authorities to respect GRT culture and traditions and to act proportionately. More recently, Tessa was instructed as junior counsel in a test case in the High Court concerning injunctions against Persons Unknown. The case, which concerned 38 local authorities, led to an important judgment ruling that final injunctions granted against Persons Unknown do not bind newcomers.
She also undertakes community care work. Her practice focuses on representing children and vulnerable adults who seek accommodation or assistance from local authorities or who are challenging age assessments. As junior counsel, she represented the claimant in a challenge to a local authority’s practice of diverting homeless children away from the ‘Looked After Child’ protections and a test case on the reliability of dental age assessments.
Tessa is a co-author of ‘Housing Allocation and Homelessness’, a contributing author to several further textbooks, on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s panel of preferred counsel, was vice-chair of the Housing Law Practitioners Association for four years, and is recommended in two different fields in Chambers and Partners.
Audrey Cherryl Mogan
Audrey Cherryl Mogan is a criminal defence and human rights barrister with particular expertise representing vulnerable defendants, including children and young people, and defendants with significant mental health issues & drug addiction. She is described as ‘steadfast’ in protecting her clients’ interests and refuses to be intimidated.
Her background in European human rights law, trafficking and immigration enables her to advise on these matters within a criminal context. Audrey is regularly instructed in publicly funded legal aid work and most recently secured a win in the Court of Appeal. Audrey is also an active member of Garden Court’s protest team, having acted for Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, Palestinian Action, Heathrow Pause and anti-arms trade activists and recently appeared in the High Court defending Stonehenge Protestors.
Audrey is also a Director at Black Protest Legal Support (BPLS) which was set up during the Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020. Audrey has worked assiduously to ensure BPLS is consistently providing the best possible support to racialised and marginalised communities. She has been at the forefront of their legal, policy and media work, whether that is writing articles for The Justice Gap, being quoted on BBC News, recently speaking on a panel about the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill for the Article 11 Trust, or providing direct advice and assistance to protesters. Audrey is a Griffins-Barrow Cadbury Trust Fellow, in joint partnership with Cambridge University, where she is undertaking research on trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Audrey has also in the last year successfully created and ran a campaign, supported by the Strategic Legal Fund and in collaboration with Commons Legal, to challenge the nationality requirement in criminal courts. Her fearless approach and forensic legal strategy helped to ensure that the requirement for criminal defendants to disclose their nationality prior to their trials was scrapped.
At a time when legal aid is being decimated, the LALY Awards offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the work of those who remain committed to ensuring access to justice is attainable for all.
Thanks must go to Chris Minnoch, Fiona Bawdon and the Legal Aid Practitioners Group for organising the event and making it such a success.
Finally, we would like to offer our congratulations to all the nominees and award winners who we hope will remain comrades in the fight to save legal aid.
The full list of winners can be found here: LAPG hosts the second 'lockdown LALY awards' to celebrate the vital work of social justice lawyers during the pandemic