Category: News

Bar Pro Bono Awards 2018

After being awarded the Bar Pro Bono Award 2017 for her work with Evolve, Tanya Murshed will now be on the judging panel for this year’s nominees.

 

This year’s awards will be expanded beyond the one Bar Pro BonoAward which has been presented to a barrister each year since 1997, in order to recognise the wider contribution barristers and chambers make to providing free legal advice and advocacy to the most vulnerable in society. For further details please see here.

 

Other judges on the panel include the Bar Pro Bono Unit Founder and President Lord Goldsmith QC,  the Lord Chief Justice and Chair of the Bar.

Christina Warner shortlisted for UK Diversity Legal Awards

Christina Warner

Christina has been shortlisted for the UK Diversity Legal Awards as Lawyer of the Year and Diversity Champion.

As well as regularly volunteering at LGBTQ/I+ and women’s charities, in her practice Christina often represents those who are fleeing domestic abuse. She also represents individuals who form part of alternative family structures, promoting their rights and those of their children as well as better visibility of the community before the family courts. Christina aims to raise awareness of social mobility and access to justice within the family courts, and provides voluntary support and training for charities who are all too often underfunded.​

Homelessness – there’s no such thing as ‘temporary’ accommodation after a positive decision

Nick Bano acted in a successful homelessness appeal which concerned a local authority’s decision that ‘temporary’ accommodation was suitable for the applicant even though council had decided that it owed her the ‘main housing duty’ under section 193(2).

In RR v Lewisham (5th July 2018, County Court at Central London (HHJ Parfitt)) the local authority had given the applicant poor-quality temporary accommodation while it made inquiries into whether it owed her a homelessness duty.  Lewisham then accepted that it owed her the ‘main housing duty’ but sent a letter notifying her that it had very limited availability, and that she might have to remain in her temporary accommodation for years.  Eventually, after an argument at the housing office about the condition of the accommodation, RR handed in her keys.

Lewisham decided that the housing duty had been discharged because RR had left, and because the temporary accommodation had been suitable.  RR appealed, arguing that there is no such thing in law as ‘temporary section 193 accommodation’, and that the suitability of the accommodation should have been judged by reference to a higher standard (whether it had been suitable as a performance of the open-ended main housing duty).

HHJ Parfitt ruled that there is no separate class of ‘temporary section 193’ accommodation.  Any accommodation provided under section 193 must be suitable as a performance of the main housing duty.  However, the court ruled that there was some ‘flex’ in the question of suitability and that local authorities were entitled to take into account the length of time that an applicant would be expected to stay: on the specific facts of the case, the council had not relied on the temporary nature of the accommodation to the extent that the decision was unlawful.

The appeal was allowed on a separate ground: that the reviewing officer had breached section 11 of the Children Act 2004 by failing to have due regard to the best interests of the children when deciding that a journey to school that took 80 minutes each way, via central London during rush hour, with several changes and a 20-minute walk, was reasonable.

Nick was instructed by Centre 70 Advice.

Mediation webinar

1MCB is launching a new series of webinars, offering solicitors and other litigators the opportunity to complete their CPD hours from the comfort of their own desks.

The first webinar in the series will be ‘mediation’ by Cynthia McFarlane, and will take place on 17th July 2018 at 6pm.  For further information, including details of how to sign up, please see our events page.

 

Not guilty of murder after 5-week trial at the Old Bailey

John Benson QC and Ranjeet Dulay, together with Salma Lalani led by Max Hill QC  successfully defended two of three men charged with murder. The prosecution alleged that the deceased was targeted after an argument with the accused the previous day at a family celebration. The case required painstaking scrutiny of CCTV material which captured the presence of the parties before and after the assault in which the deceased was fatally stabbed. A number of the key prosecution witnesses were granted anonymity, which added to the challenges in a complex case.

Ranjeet Dulay said: ‘This was a difficult and sensitive case. To meet the prosecution’s case as to what happened and the motive relied on required very careful analysis of the CCTV material and challenges to witnesses to the events which were said to have provided motive for the attack”.

Crime team takes action against further cuts

1MCB’s crime team will not be accepting work under representation orders granted on or after 1st April 2018.

Like so many others across the profession (including our professional clients, the Criminal Bar Association, the Bar Council and colleagues at other chambers) we are appalled by the ever deeper cuts to legal aid and to the justice system. Over recent years our members’ working conditions have become intolerably poor and – more importantly – the criminal justice system as a whole is in serious decline. We cannot accept any further damage.

We will attend and support days of action. Our members are overwhelmingly supportive of a ‘no returns’ policy and encourage colleagues to voice their commitment to unified action if the Ministry of Justice continues with its plans to implement these cuts.

 

29th March 2018

 

Refugee Legal Support Athens wins Lexis Nexis Pro Bono Award

1MCB congratulations Refugee Legal Support Athens on winning the Lexis Nexis Pro Bono Award 2018.

RLS was set up in April 2017 to show solidarity with refugees and those working with them.  The organisation runs a pro bono legal clinic at the Khora Community Centre, a humanitarian cooperative in Athens.  1MCB barrister Ariane Adam sits on the organisation’s executive committee.

Murder acquittal for John Benson QC & Salma Lalani

Following his extradition from the USA in November 2016, and after a three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court, John Benson QC and Salma Lalani secured their client’s acquittal on a count of murder. The charge related to the violent death by stabbing of a young man in Edmonton on New Year’s Day in 2008. Two other men who had been extradited from Jamaica were convicted of murder in 2013. The prosecution relied heavily on CCTV footage of the attack on the victim which followed an altercation on a night bus. The alleged joint enterprise involved four men, one of whom has never been apprehended.

John Benson said that it was a difficult case requiring painstaking analysis of events recorded over several minutes on CCTV, culminating in the final fatal outcome, in order to distinguish the participation of the defendant from others who were involved and who had already been convicted.

Christina Warner recognised by Amnesty International UK

Christina Warner has been recognised as part of Amnesty International UK’s Suffragette Spirit campaign for her voluntary work with women and those of the LGBT community fleeing domestic abuse. On 8th March 2018, International Women’s Day 2018, Amnesty International UK launched its Suffragette Spirit Map of Britain and credited Christina for her work in raising awareness of the need for access to justice in the family courts.

Iain Edwards trains prosecutors and judges on sexual and gender-based violence

On 8 February, Iain Edwards  provided training to a group of senior prosecutors and judges from seven Francophone African countries at the TMC Asser Institute in The Hague, Netherlands. The training was held in conjunction with the Antonio Cassese Initiative as part of an advanced course on strengthening domestic capacity to prosecute international and transnational crimes in Africa.

Iain spoke about practical challenges and strategies for the investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence in international criminal law. The training focussed on the experiences of and lessons learned by the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, as well as the International Criminal Court.

Intentional homelessness: council’s ‘arbitrary and capricious’ affordability decision

Nick Bano represented the successful appellant in G v Lambeth, a challenge to a local authority’s decision that the applicant was ‘intentionally homeless’.

The applicant, a self-employed painter and decorator with three children, had been evicted from a privately rented home for rent arrears. There was a dispute as to whether the family home had been affordable. G told the local authority that his family had spent £150 per month on a car and £120 per month on public transport and that – when added to the other costs of living – he had been unable to pay the rent. In assessing the family’s finances local authority discounted the cost of the car and reduced the other travel costs to £100 “for argument sake”, noting that the children travelled for free and the applicant’s wife was not in employment. That meant (on the local authority’s calculation) that the family’s expenses were £15 per month less than their income, and the property had therefore been affordable.

G appealed to the County Court. Recorder Cohen allowed the appeal, criticising in particular the decision to reduce the Appellant’s wife’s travel costs which, he said, ‘had no rational basis’ because a parent who is not in paid employment may have higher travel costs than someone who spends the day at work. Reaching the figure of £100, the judge ruled, was arbitrary.

The appeal succeeded (‘rather unusually’, the judge noted) on all six grounds. The other challenges were:

  • Failure to take into account the code of guidance (specifically paragraph 11.17, relating to ‘temporary aberrations’);
  • Failure to make adequate inquiries into the extent of the Appellant’s substance abuse problem;
  • Failure to make adequate inquiries into the family’s travel costs before reaching a decision;
  • Failure to make adequate inquiries into the necessity of repaying debts (the council had discounted £150 claimed towards paying off loans and fines); and
  • Failure to follow the Regulation 8 ‘minded to’ procedure (the judge ruled that the initial decision contained errors that were deficiencies that par excellence required the Regulation 8 procedure to be followed).

Ariane Adam speaks on ‘Journey to Asylum’ panel at the House of Lords

Ariane Adam, together with Nicola Braganza of Garden Court Chambers, participated in a seminar on ‘Journey to Asylum’ hosted by Lord Roger Roberts on 16 January 2018, which highlighted the work of the Athens Refugee Legal Support Project. Ariane and Nicola were members of a panel including representatives from Children on the Move in Europe and the Refugee Council. The seminar participants discussed the challenges faced by refugees in Europe, particularly those faced by unaccompanied asylum seeking children.